Remember the 1993 Rabbi SAPERSTEIN Letter?

A memorandum addressed to Civil Rights leaders authored by White Jewish Rabbi David Saperstein and marked “Confidential and Personal” threatened Jewish reprisals if Minister Farrakhan were allowed to speak at the 1993 March on Washington.



Though he was invited to speak at the march by its Black organizers, Minister Farrakhan was dis-invited at the last minute  based on this memo. Here are excerpts from the August 13, 1993 memo:



To: Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Bill Lucy, Rev. Jesse Jackson, William Gibson, Rev. Ben Chavis, Lane Kirkland

From: Rabbi David Saperstein

cc: Rabbi Alexander Schindler, Lawrence Rubin

…In the past 24 hours, however, two major problems have arisen. The first is that I understand that a tentative decision was made yesterday to invite Rev. Louis Farrakhan. I do not need to tell you what a devastating blow this would be to the solidarity of the coalition supporting the March. While he participated in 1983, that was before all of the blow-up over his extreme statements generally, and his anti-Semitic statements in particular, beginning with his “Judaism is a gutter religion.”

For a decade, these problems have escalated….I thought this issue was resolved in 1988 when the decision was made not to invite him. The controversy over Rev. Farrakhan’s participation will overwhelm the entire March. The media’s obsession with such controversies, and Black-Jewish tensions particularly (around Rev. Farrakhan above all) will become the major story of the March. The substance of your talks and what the March represents will be totally drowned out.

Obviously, all of the Jewish groups, (and, I suspect, other groups) will be forced to withdraw from participation in the March….I am exceedingly disappointed, considering how closely I have worked with all of you over the years and how strongly you must have known the Jewish community would react to these decisions, that these decisions were not only made without my participation and ability to share my community’s concerns, but without even the courtesy of prior consultation. This feels like a major breach of good faith.

Please reach me at my office 202-387-2800 or my home 202-263-4375 any time that is convenient for you to discuss this further.

Leave a comment