Jews across western Pennsylvania and West Virginia will join in the celebrations marking the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr.
In some areas, Blacks and Jews will come together to worship while others will mark the day with service to the community.
Musical groups from Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation and Community Day School will take part in the 29th annual Martin Luther King Celebration and Kelso Lecture, Sunday, Jan. 20, at East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 S. Highland Ave. East End Cooperative Ministry and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary are sponsoring the event.
The TOL*OLS ensemble will include Mary Dawn Edwards, on flute, Alex Friedman, on vocals and percussion and Steve Weiss on guitar.
“The ensemble has been participating in Shabbat services since 2007, originally as the Tree of Life Ensemble launched by then-cantorial soloist Michelle Gray Shafer and Rabbi Stephen Listfield,” Friedman said in an emailed response the Chronicle. “We have performed in a volunteer capacity at Yom Ha’atzmuut, Purim, MLK and religious school events. We believe music is a vital part of the Jewish experience.”
Rodef Shalom Congregation will be represented as well. A student, Asher Grinberg, will deliver a reading from the Torah.
Civil rights attorney John C. Brittain, professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law, will be the keynote speaker. Other musical groups from Missionary Temple Ministries, Hope Academy and Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church also will perform. Music begins at 3:30 p.m.; the service starts at 4 p.m. There will be a reception following the service.
Admission is free, and all are invited. Donations of canned goods for the EECM food pantry are requested and will be collected at the door.
Contact EECM at 412-361-5549 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Across town, leaders from various Jewish organizations and congregations will take part in a national day of service with Habitat for Humanity, Monday, Jan. 21. Participants will gather at the South Braddock Community Center, 416 Library St., at 8:30 a.m. for the social action project, then disperse to sites around the area.
Among the participants will be Gregg Roman, director of the Community
Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
“Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once stated, ‘Racism is man’s gravest threat to man — the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason,’” Roman said in a prepared statement. “The advocacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel embodied the positive African American and Jewish American experience that has been prevalent throughout the last century in the struggle against racism and pursuit for equality and civil rights.
“In Pittsburgh, the Jewish Community has supported our African American friends for decades,” he continued. “The Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh continues to honor Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel’s work through our rich and deep partnerships with Pittsburgh’s African American Community. The cooperation between both communities will only be strengthened as we work closer in the months and years ahead.”
In Wheeling, W.Va., Jews and Blacks will worship together at a Shabbat service, Friday, Jan. 18, 8 p.m., at Temple Shalom. Members of the Bethlehem Apostolic Temple will be at the synagogue where their senior pastor, the Rev. Darrell W. Cummings, will deliver a sermon to mark the occasion.
Also, a community march in Wheeling in remembrance of King’s birthday will begin Sunday at the synagogue and wind its way to Wheeling Jesuit University where a service will be held.
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at email@example.com.)