African American-Jewish Alliance

An interfaith effort to bridge understanding and cooperation between African-Americans and Jews.

Community Contact Information: 
Central Synagogue 
New York, NY 


  • Create an occasion for the African-American and Jewish communities to work in partnership
  • Celebrate a shared vision of an America rich in opportunity, free of oppression
  • Build bridges of understanding and cooperation between African-Americans and Jews


Organizers were drawn to tie the event to the thirty-fifth anniversary of the murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, murdered in 1964 in Philadelphia, Mississippi, recent history’s most vivid example of African-Americans and Jews struggling together, and tragically dying together. 

Project Implementation: 
The congregation, together with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolence and a local predominantly African-American church, presented Advancing the Promise, an evening of inspiration and hope. Approximately 1,000 people attended the event, which featured prominent African-American and Jewish keynote speakers. The event also included a joint choir and a joint dance troupe, made up of members of both congregations. At the program’s conclusion, the attendees sang “We Shall Overcome” with one voice.

In meetings and rehearsals of choir and dance group, the relationships we sought to establish between our communities developed and flourished. 

The success of this event led to the establishment of an African-American/Jewish Alliance, made up of members of both congregations, which co-sponsored several programs:

  • Joint Heritage Seder: a Passover Seder where members of the Alliance would tell the story of our common experience as slaves and our common hope of redemption. The seder used a revised version of “A Common Road to Freedom,” the Haggadah created by the CSA.
  • MLK Inter-religious Celebration: The MLK Center’s inter-religious celebration to honor the memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King with attendees marching together from one house of worship to the next.
  • Annual Interfaith Mitzvah Day.
  • Community Dialogue: A series of dialogue sessions. Initially hoping to attract ten to twelve members from each congregation ended with over 35 attendees for the first session.

As relationships develop, the group intends to take a leadership role in setting an agenda for the synagogue and church to address together the myriad of social justice issues we face in our community, our city, state, and country.