Rabbi Fred Guttman Leaves Lasting Impressions on Congregation, Community | Local

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In this September 2011 photo, Anthony Stewart (foreground) listens to Temple Emanuel’s Rabbi Fred Guttman address the crowd at the Phill G. McDonald Plaza during a rally of opponents of a state constitutional amendment which would have banned same-sex marriage. While voters later passed the amendment, the courts ruled it unconstitutional.


Lynn Hey, News & Record


‘I can do it’

When Guttman discovered that there would be no Jewish component to mark the 50th celebration of the “Bloody Sunday” marches from Selma to Montgomery, which were instrumental in 1965 in passing the landmark law on the right to vote, he picked up the phone. and started making calls.

Often, imprisoned Jewish rabbis sang their prayers in Hebrew to the tune of “We Shall Overcome,” the song of the movement.

Guttman convinced the leaders of the small synagogue in Selma, which was not used regularly by aging members, to allow him to hold a special service there before the march.






Rabbi Fred Guttman

Fred Guttman (left) and U.S. Representative John Lewis pose for a photo together in 2014.


Fred Guttman, on condition


Other notorious Jewish voices were quick to respond to Guttman’s call, including David Goodman, brother of civil rights activist Andrew Goodman, whose story is told loosely in the 1988 film “Mississippi Burning.”

Susannah Heschel, the daughter of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a civil rights leader who helped praise Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., said she would be there. The same goes for folk singer Peter Yarrow from Peter, Paul and Mary.

But the building only had one bathroom, no heating, and no space to feed anyone.

“Above all, he’s a hard worker,” Nancy Guttman said of her husband’s determination. “Where other people might say, eh, it’s not worth it, he’ll say, ‘I can do that.'”


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