That’s the rallying cry of Atlanta Falcons fans as the hometown football team prepares to take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
“Rise Up” also happens to be the title of a gospel song written by a rabbi and embraced by Atlanta’s most prominent and historic African-American congregations.
Rabbi Micah Lapidus is the Director of Jewish and Hebrew Studies at The Davis Academy in Dunwoody. It’s really in his work as a composer, however, that Lapidus carries on the tradition of interfaith dialogue in Atlanta.
His song “Rise Up” has been performed for the past five years at The Temple’s annual MLK Shabbat with Ebenezer Baptist Church. In an interview with Lois Reitzes, Lapidus said that “a song like ‘Rise Up’ really resonates with a lot of different audiences” – like football fans, churchgoers and Civil Rights activists.
But with “Rise Up” as the slogan of an NFL team, Reitzes wondered how a clergyman like Lapidus felt about mixing the sacred and the profane.
“I’m of the opinion that sacred and profane is a little bit of a false distinction,” he said. “I think that we have ‘sacred’ and ‘not-yet-sacred,’ so that everything has the potential to be sacred, and it’s just a matter of realizing that potential.”
The rabbi admits that he wasn’t always a Falcons fan, let alone a professional football fan, which he attributes to his Los Angeles upbringing. Now you can count him as a member of the Falcons nation, adding that “on and off the field, particularly at this moment, the Falcons are a pretty sacred encounter for the city of Atlanta.”
At the risk of further mixing (or confusing) metaphors, “Rise Up” now has a music video with a sort of blessing from Civil Rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis.
On Lewis’ opening remarks, Lapidus said, “there’s certainly no more distinguished and honorable American hero … than someone of his stature and with his legacy of commitment to making the world a better place.”
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