Gay Rabbi Joshua Lesser spoke about what lead him to become involved in social issues, in a panel discussion on the power of protest in Atlanta
“Protests are meant to bring awareness. Protests are hopes that people that don’t look like us join the fight and join the conversations. Protests have led people to be empowered to become lawyers, police officers and district attorneys.”
So said Tereance Puryear, the president of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Young Professionals, when asked about the effectiveness of protest.
The panel included Congregation Bet Haverim Rabbi Joshua Lesser, activist Erin Schroeder and civil rights leader Xernona Clayton and was moderated by Sherry Frank, who founded the Black-Jewish Coalition with Congressman John Lewis 30 years ago.
Most protests, especially those challenging systemic processes established to oppress others, require support from outside groups. Rabbi Lesser said that’s why he is adamant about social justice activism and encourages it among his congregants at Bet Haverim.
Rabbi Lesser became active in social justice while working with people who have disabilities. He said the acceptance he received was instrumental in his life moving forward.
“I was also in the process of coming out, and the acceptance I received from that community and the partnerships nourished my soul,” Rabbi Lesser said. “That led me to be active in racial issues, LGBTQ issues and women’s issues.”