I’m currently reading two books. Both are non-fiction. Both are simply fascinating, excellent books. I’m reading each for totally different reasons, and in totally different places (one in shul, the other someplace else). One is Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary, by Juan Williams. The second is Community, Covenant And Commitment: Selected Letters And Communications by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, edited by Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot. Before discussing the books themselves (not in this post), I wanted to point out a single person who appears, albeit briefly, in both books.
The person is Dr. Milton Konvitz (1908-2003). In the Rav book, he appears as the addressee of the first letter in the collection. In 1950, he wrote to the Rav regarding the Interfaith Chapel that was being constructed at
I found it to be extremely interesting and also very inspiring that the same man would be mentioned in these very disparate contexts. The same man who stood for halakha in a prestigious university also stood up for the rights of black citizens decades before it was in vogue in liberal circles.
I cannot help but sense that these two facets of his personality were integrally connected. The same commitment to halakha which motivated him to protest human images in a place of worship also motivated him to fight for justice on behalf of those created in the Divine image.