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Heschel, King events slated around the world

NEW YORK, Jan. 12 (JTA) — Jewish communities around the world are gearing up for commemorations of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The 25th anniversary of Heschel’s yahrzeit is Friday, Jan. 16.
Many of the events in the United States will also pay tribute to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader for whom America observes a federal holiday, which this year falls on Jan. 19. Among the events slated: * Manhattan’s Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, a synagogue whose active commitment to social action is said by many to best embody Heschel’s vision, will remember the rabbi with speeches from his daughter, a member of Congress, a prominent Protestant minister and others during the Shabbat following his yahrzeit. * A Manhattan day school named for Heschel will also have commemorations involving his widow and daughter. * In Washington, D.C., at least 20 different Jewish groups are holding activities related to Heschel and King. Among them are a Jan. 15 panel discussion at Reform Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Md., which is slated to include King’s biographer, a senior staffer who worked with both King and Heschel on their anti-Vietnam War campaign, a representative of the Catholic Bishop’s Council and two of Heschel’s students. * Julius Lester, a black Jew who teaches at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, prepared a booklet excerpting Heschel’s writings to be used for study on the yahrzeit weekend and once a month through the rest of 1998. Lester, a lay leader at Beth El Synagogue in St. Johnsbury, Vt., has also distributed Heschel’s work online. * Rabbi Eliezer Havivi of Beth David Synagogue in Greensboro, N.C., is lecturing about Heschel and encouraging each member to read a copy of Heschel’s “The Sabbath,” which the congregation is providing. * In Berlin, Germany, an egalitarian havurah has begun to study Heschel’s work and has organized a Heschel study day in which the full spectrum of liberal and Orthodox congregations will participate. * In Jerusalem, three congregations in the Baka neighborhood — one Orthodox, one Conservative and one Reform — have slated an evening of prayer, study and song on Heschel’s yahrzeit. In addition, Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel are gathering for a full day of joint study of Heschel’s life and legacy. * An organization in Israel’s capital, named Compassionate Listening, which is devoted to Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, will also study Heschel’s work and writing. * In Tel Aviv, a havurah has joined with a workers’ rights group to aid and lobby for the rights of foreign workers in Israel, in Heschel’s memory. Later in the year, on May 17th, the Jewish and black communities in New York will share a march by combining Manhattan’s annual Salute to Israel Day Parade and its annual pageant saluting King’s memory.

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