How Jewish New York is spending Martin Luther King Day this year


(New York Jewish Week) – This weekend honors the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Jewish communities around the city are using the opportunity to discuss Judaism’s relationship with social justice and the African-American community, and to organize volunteering events. 

The New York Jewish Week has gathered a list of Jewish community events surrounding MLK Day, which is observed as a national holiday on Monday, Jan. 16:

Shabbat dinner and volunteering with Repair the World

Repair the World, a national Jewish volunteer movement framed around the pursuit of justice and tikkun olam, is organizing a number of events around the city this weekend. Join them for Shabbat dinners centered around social change in Manhattan and Brooklyn, or volunteer packing hygiene kits for asylum seekers, painting community murals, preparing meals and rebuilding community gardens and compost systems. Find all Repair the World MLK Weekend Shabbat and volunteer opportunities here.

Annual interfaith celebration Shabbat at Temple Emanu-El

Temple Emanu-El is celebrating an interfaith Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday, Jan. 13. For the fourth year in a row, the synagogue welcomes the Rev. Gary V. Simpson and the congregation of The Concord Baptist Church of Christ. Simpson will deliver a sermon alongside Senior Rabbi Joshua Davidson. The event will be in person and live streamed on the Temple Emanu-El website and Facebook page starting at 6:00 p.m.

Kabbalat Shabbat and interfaith services in Brooklyn with Congregation Beth Elohim

Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope will host an MLK Kabbalat Shabbat featuring testimonies from four participants of the congregation’s adult civil rights group who recently traveled to the South to learn about the country’s legacy of racism. The event will also be livestreamed starting at 6:30 p.m.; a Shabbat dinner will follow for those who attend in person. Find more information here.

At 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, a cohort from CBE will also attend a special “In His Words” service at Antioch Baptist Church in Bed-Stuy (826 Greene Ave.). The service will feature excerpts from King’s speeches.

Cinematters Annual Film Festival

Taking place throughout the weekend at Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, the film festival presents three films in honor of Martin Luther King Day that explore themes of inequality, injustice and social responsibility: “Stranger at the Gate” (Jan. 16 at 4:00 p.m.), “Black Mothers Love & Resist” (Jan. 16 at 5:30 p.m.) and “Repairing the World: Stories from the Tree of Life (Jan. 18 at 7:00 p.m.). The films will be followed by Q&As with directors and producers of the movies. Learn more about the film festival here

“Warriors Don’t Cry” theater production

On Sunday, Jan. 15, at 1:00 p.m., the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan will stage “Warriors Don’t Cry,” a play inspired by Melba Pattillo Beals’ memoir of the same name. Appropriate for ages 6-12, the play centers around a high school student named Ya Girl who learns about Beals’ battle to integrate Little Rock Central High School as a member of The Little Rock Nine in 1957.

The production is a collaboration between The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and TheaterWorksUSA and is a part of the Books That Changed My Life Festival at the JCC. Tickets are $10. Find more information here.

An afternoon of learning about volunteering and social justice

UJA-Federation of New York will host “In Service of All: An Afternoon of MLK Learning,” a virtual event on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 4:00 p.m. After a keynote address from Ruth Messinger, global ambassador of American Jewish World Service, breakout sessions and interactive workshops will address questions like, “What does service look like right now? How can volunteerism bring people of all backgrounds together? What do Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jewish texts have to say about changing the world?” Register for the free program here.

Additional volunteer opportunities with UJA

UJA has a helpful guide to the many volunteer opportunities taking place throughout the city on Sunday and Monday, from assembling care packages to organizing meal and grocery drives to donating blood. Take a look here