Rabbi: Jews, More Than Anyone, Helped Black Americans Achieve Equality

Orthodox N.Y. Rabbi Shneier speaks at event marking 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King assassination.

American Orthodox Rabbi Marc Shneier on Friday spoke at a ceremony marking 40 years since the assassination of U.S. Civil Rights leader Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr., and championed American Jews' support of African Americans during the Civil Rights struggle, saying no community in the United States did more to support Dr. King and the struggle for equality for African Americans.

Rabbi Shneier, an Orthodox Rabbi at two New York synagogues, was the only Jewish leader who took part in the ceremony in Memphis, held a short distance from the Memphis motel where King was mortally wounded by a sniper's bullet while standing on a balcony.

Shneier said the event was an opportunity to commemorate the "famous historical alliance between African Americans and Jews in the United States."

Shneier has long championed greater ties between the communities, and wrote the book "Shared Dreams" together with Dr. King's son Martin Luther King III on the subject of the Jewish-Black alliance in the United States.

Last August, Schneier made news when he joined with hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons to produce a short film to combat negative stereotypes of Muslims.

Several months earlier, Schneier and Simmons, the founder of Def Jam records, produced a short film on anti-Semitism which was shown in schools across the United States. The film featured appearances by rap stars such as Jay-Z, and was widely considered a success.

Schneier and Simmons are co-presidents of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which works to improve relations between Jews and other minorities in the United States.

Since its founding in 1989, the foundation has been particularly successful in improving relations between American Jewish and black communities.

According to Schneier, the fund has since turned its focus to improving relations between American Jews and Hispanics.