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Martin Luther King Jr. Service

Congregation and local NAACP co-sponsor annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative service at synagogue.

Community Contact Information:
Temple B'nai Israel
Oklahoma City, OK
www.thetempleokc.org

Goals: 

  • Celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
  • Enrich bonds with the local African-American community. 
  • Create an ongoing opportunity for cross-cultural dialogue.

Overview:
The congregation welcomes the local NAACP to the synagogue for an annual commemorative service on the Sunday evening before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Preparation:
The rabbi and the president of the local NAACP recruit members for an arrangements committee. The committee members suggest presenters to invite.

When planning the event, the committee seeks to integrate different skilled members of the community, including: 

  • Entertainment: an appropriate local musical group or performer. 
  • Speaker: typically a local figure who can speak with authority about civil rights. Past speakers included a local civil rights-era integration activist, and a historian who discussed local race riots of the 1920s. 
  • Discussion: knowledgeable, trained facilitators to work with discussion groups.

Project Implementation:
The program can take many forms. B’nai Israel’s program includes: 

  • A musical performance, 
  • Words of welcome from the arrangement committee, 
  • Presentation by the invited speaker, 
  • Closing remarks, 
  • A closing prayer, led by the rabbi, 
  • Breakout discussions about the main presentation, 
  • Light refreshments and continuation of discussion.

Results:
The program has been presented annually for several years. Bonds between the congregation and the local African-American community have grown through regular interaction and cooperation.