Rabbi receives standing ovation for powerful speech at Muhammad Ali's funeral

Published: June 11, 2016
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We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people, Rabbi says. ESPN SCREENGRAB

We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people, Rabbi says. ESPN SCREENGRAB

Representative of the Jewish faith at Muhammad Ali’s memorial service, Rabbi Michael Lerner received a standing ovation as he delved on the mistreatment of Muslims in America, during the ceremony.

“Send your blessings to Muhammad Ali and send your blessings to those who mourn for him and the millions around the planet,” Lerner began.

Muhammad Ali feted by the famous and fans in final farewell

The crowd cheered when Lerner, editor of the Jewish interfaith magazine Tikkun, made a rousing reference to Hillary Clinton, Bill’s wife and the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Lerner also took a swipe at Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who has called for a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the country.

“We will not tolerate politicians or anyone else putting down Muslims and blaming Muslims for a few people,” said Lerner.

ESPN SCREENGRAB

“I want to say how do we honour Muhammad Ali? And the answer is the way to honour Muhammad Ali is to be Muhammad Ali today, the representative said as the crowd applauded.

Lerner further showed love to Palestinians by calling on the government of United States to take action against the oppression Palestinians face from the Israel government.

Muhammad Ali was extolled on Friday as a boxer of incomparable grace, a magnetic entertainer and a man of conviction who gave a voice to the oppressed, as a two-day celebration of “The Greatest” came to a rousing end in his Kentucky hometown.

Key quotes from Ali memorial service:

Former US president Bill Clinton:

“Besides being a lot of fun to be around and basically a universal soldier for our common humanity, I will always think of Muhammad as a truly free man of faith.”

Muhammad Ali cheered in Louisville as world says goodbye

Sports journalist Bryant Gumbel:

“The greatness of this man for the ages was that he was, in fact, a man for all ages…. He fought not just the biggest and baddest inside the ropes but, outside, went toe-to-toe with critics.”

Ali’s wife Lonnie:

“If Muhammad did not like the rules, he would rewrite them. His religion, his name, his beliefs, were his to fashion, no matter what the cost.”

Senior presidential aide Valerie Jarrett, reading a tribute from President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle:

“Muhammad Ali was America. Muhammad Ali will always be America.”

Rabbi Michael Lerner, speaking about Ali’s refusal to serve in Vietnam:

“At the key moment when he had that recognition, he used it to stand up to an immoral war and say, ‘No, I won’t go’.”

Senior Pastor Kevin Cosby, St Stephen’s Baptist Church:

“He dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves.”

New York renames Manhattan street ‘Muhammad Ali Way’

Long-time friend John Ramsey:

“He had charm and charisma and swagger, before we knew what that was.”

Rabbi Joe Rapport:

“Muhammad Ali was the heart of this city — the living, breathing embodiment of the greatest that we can be.”

Attallah Shabazz, daughter of slain Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X:

“Having Muhammad Ali in my life somehow sustained my dad’s breath for me just a little while longer — 51 years longer until now.”

 

Comedian Billy Crystal, sporting a full beard, joking about length of the service:

“I was clean-shaven when this started.”

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Jun 11, 2016 - 12:45PM

    Great leader. Great Rabbi. More men like him are needed
    in the world.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Jun 11, 2016 - 7:43PM

    @Motiwala:
    Very true, but tell that to the ‘enlightened’ ones running CII..Recommend

  • Pukar
    Jun 11, 2016 - 11:30PM

    Respect for Ali and his friends specially Rabi. This is what we want, friendship with all communities.Recommend

  • ZAK
    Jun 12, 2016 - 4:14AM

    Interfaith harmony is extremely important for tolerance and eradication of terrorism.
    The only way people who believe different religion can live together.Recommend

  • Kizz Reagan
    Jun 12, 2016 - 5:04PM

    The world shall forever miss such a great faithful fighter whose aim was to use the game as a platform to fight oppression of the poor and people of colour. Allah bless Ali as he restsRecommend

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