Bay Area Christian, Jewish communities gather in memory of MLK Jr. amid heightened global tensions

"This is what the world needs to see. There's too much division. too much hate."

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Sunday, January 14, 2024
Bay Area Christian and Jewish communities gather in memory of MLK Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a couple of day's away, but the celebrations in the Bay Area have already begun.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For almost four decades, the members of Congregation Emanu-El and the Third Baptist Church have gathered together in song and in prayer every MLK Day weekend.

"This is what the world needs to see. There's too much division. too much hate," said Rev. Amos Brown.

The gathering brings together people both young and old from across San Francisco.

The idea behind it, an interfaith and intercultural exchange between two minority communities to better understand one another.

All of it, in remembrance of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"More people want to be together and to listen to each other's stories and be there for one another than not," said Rabbi Beth Singer.

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The connection between the black and Jewish communities here in the US extends far beyond Third Baptist Church and Congregation Emanu-El though.

It's actually a relationship that goes back decades.

Rev. Amos Brown is the head of Third Baptist Church.

He says Jewish Americans were instrumental in helping the black community during the civil rights movement, and even helped found the NAACP back in the early 1900s.

"We have a commonality of experiencing oppression because of our race, because of our religion, and that commonality has brought us together," Rev. Brown said.

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The weekend features two events.

The first one at a local synagogue Friday night for shabbat services.

And the second on Sunday at Third Baptist for a church service.

Although long popular among many members of both communities, many tell us this year's show of unity is more important than ever given world events.

"We're all the same. We have the same color blood, the same cell system," said Stephanie Michaels.

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And while the weekend might be a highlight for those involved, organizers say it's important for them to keep the conversation going all the time.

"This dialogue, it's not just on this weekend but it's a dialogue that goes on throughout the year," said Rabbi Jonathan Singer.

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