Rep. John Lewis praised for commitment to Atlanta’s Jewish community

ATLANTA — Members of metro Atlanta's Jewish community are remembering Congressman John Lewis, praising the civil rights icon for his commitment to the fight against anti-semitism.

Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke with one of Lewis’ closest friends, who explained how his support helped improve the lives of Jews across the world.

Jewish activist and author Sherry Frank said she will always cherish the close relationship she had with Lewis and his family for more than four decades.

“He never missed an opportunity to stand with us to speak about his support for Israel’s security,” Frank said. “He was righteous and he cared about the whole community and he was a treasure within the Jewish community.”

Frank said that she first met Lewis in the 80s while he was serving on the Atlanta City Council.

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"We asked him to speak to a group of Blacks and Jews about the renewal of the voting rights act," Frank said. "It was an electric meeting and everyone in the room said, 'Let's not stop with the program. Let's create a coalition."

In 1982, Lewis became one of the founding members of the Atlanta Black Jewish Coalition.

Dov Wilker, the regional director for the American Jewish Committee, said Lewis was a leading voice in the legacy of Black-Jewish relations.

"Cecil Alexander and John Lewis came together for the renewal of the voter rights act," Wilker said. "And they felt our communities needed to come together."

“He knew that Blacks and Jews had marched together, died together and he lived the beloved community that Dr. King had preached,” Frank said.

Frank said she's grateful for the lessons she learned from a civil rights giant who she was lucky enough to call a friend. Frank said that when Lewis was sworn into congress, both Lewis' son and her son were on his knee.

“I thank God a thousand times that I was able to go and see him and tell him how much I loved him,” Frank said.