Then he led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven. And they were on their knees, worshipping him. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God.
(Luke 24: 50 – 53)
Julius Rosenwald was a generous man. After serving as president of the Sears company from 1908 – 1924, he concentrated on philanthropy, giving away $63 million – $630 million in today’s dollars – to educational and cultural institutions and Jewish charities.
Of special interest to him was the African American community. In partnership with Booker T. Washington, he used challenge grants to fund 5000 public schools to give poor rural African American children the opportunity to learn to read and write, and also paid for 4000 libraries for existing schools. In an era when Y.M.C.A.’s were for whites only, he led the effort to create 25 Y.M.C.A.’s and Y.W.C.A.’s for African Americans in cities across the US.
Whether it was helping impoverished Eastern European immigrants in Chicago or giving African Americans greater access to education and housing, Julius Rosenwald, a great man of great wealth, cared about and came to the assistance of the outsider and disadvantaged. The Ascension of Jesus is about the power of change and the possibility of transformation, about a God who was willing to reach down to humanity and bring it up into divine life. We can participate in that process by reaching out ourselves and helping to change the life of our neighbour.