Louisville, KY – Two rabbis have spoken at the interfaith memorial service for Muhammad Ali, with one of them receiving four standing ovations and leaving the crowd chanting, “Ali! Ali! Ali!”
Rabbi Michael Lerner gave a fiery political speech in which he declared that American Jews stand in solidarity with Muslims, saying they will not tolerate politicians demonizing an entire religion by the actions of a few.
He says Ali stood up to an immoral war and risked fame and fortune to speak truth to power.
“How do we honor Muhammad Ali?” he asked. “And the answer the way to honor Muhammad Ali is to be Muhammad Ali today.”
He listed progressive causes: ending war, leveling the gap between the rich and the poor, eliminating racism in the criminal justice system.
“The way we get security is for the United States to become known as the most generous and caring country in the world, not the most powerful,” he said.
He referred to the next president as “she.” The crowd went wild and the camera found former President Bill Clinton, husband of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the audience, smiling and clapping.
Later, Rabbi Joe Rapport of Louisville said Ali was “the heart of our city … and that heart beats still.”