Israel, Jewish and Community Affairs
November 9, 2018: Kristallnacht Commemoration
On Friday, November 9, congregants from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and Manetto Hill Jewish Center united in friendship and against hate. Wearing t-shirts declaring that unity, the communities shared in a joint program commemorating the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass” that began the Holocaust. The shirts were donated by GARAGE68, Inc. and sold for $10 each. The proceeds will be sent to the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Lutherans and Jews Unite Against Hate
The program began at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church where members of both communities participated in an inspirational ceremony. Rev. Eric Olsen, pastor of Good Shepherd, burned pages from the anti-Semitic writings of his faith’s founder, Martin Luther, in the baptismal font.
Being a good Lutheran and Christian, he said, means acknowledging the bad as well as the good. He relayed a story to about 150 people gathered at Manetto Hill Jewish Center that he was deeply disturbed as a seminary student to come across these writings and to learn how they inspired Nazi Germany. He made it his mission to ensure that his congregants would know about them and denounce them.
The two religious institutions have been united in friendship for many years, coming together every year to commemorate Kristallnacht. Rabbi Neil Schuman said, “Pastor Eric and I meet regularly to share ideas that will build community and stimulate meaningful religious experiences for our congregants. It’s been both our experiences that spiritual leaders from varied religions have more in common than they do have differences. The joint Kristallnacht program was one example of this: we both experienced pain, purification, healing, and hope for the future.”
Falling on the Jewish Sabbath this year, a moving service was held at Manetto Hill Jewish Center commemorating Kristallnacht and featured guest speaker Marisa Fox-Bevilacqua, a New York journalist who discovered her mother had a secret nearly 20 years after her death. She was one of thousands of teenage girls trafficked as Nazi slaves. Fox shared that story which is a documentary in the making called “My Underground Mother.”
June 20, 2018: MHJC hosted a program on bullying and safety presented by the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District
March 24, 2018: March for Our Lives
Rabbi Neil encouraged students and congregants to attend the March for Our Lives in Manhattan. A group met at the synagogue, participated in a short service and then took the train to NYC to participate in the march. Many other congregants attended the march held in Huntington and some joined the nation in front of the Capitol in Washington, D. C. Even though the marches occurred on Shabbat, the rabbi and the ritual committee agreed that participation in this critical event was a priority, because as the Talmud teaches us: “He/She who saves one life, is as if he/she saves the entire world.”
September 17, 2017: Rabbi Neil and Manetto Hill Jewish Center participate in an ad in Newsday condemning anti-Semitism and bigotry
June 29, 2017: An Important Message From the Rabbi
Two events centering around Israel took place this week for which we need to take notice. Flagrant anti-Semitism at the Chicago Dyke March, and the Israeli government’s decision to renege on its promise to create an egalitarian space of worship at the Kotel.
We all must be vigilant and take necessary measures to stem the tide of anti-Semitism. Curbing anti-Semitism starts with education. The following are ways in which we each can get involved:
• Contact your school districts and request that they run programs on anti-Semitism
• Contact your local officials as they can assist in speaking with school officials to institute such programs
• Keep abreast of the news and if you hear of any legislation on this issue, contact your elected officials and state your position
• Let those companies and organizations who support BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel) know that you are against this policy and will not support those organizations if they continue to enforce that policy. You can learn more about BDS by visiting ADL’s website.
• If you are attending college, about to attend college, or if you have college or high school age children, attend (and have your children attend) workshops on how to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Contacts for Legislative Officials – click here
Saving Lives in Israel
MHJC is proud to have raised funds for United Hatzalah, a nonprofit organization comprised of volunteers who are secular Jews, Orthodox Jews and Arabs living in Israel. The one common denominator is that they all believe in saving lives. They use ambucycles, motorcycles equipped with everything one would expect in an ambulance minus the bed.
Ambucycles are operated by volunteer paramedics throughout Israel who respond to emergencies in three minutes or less. In life or death situations, time is of the essence and due to the ambucycles being able to maneuver through traffic or on sidewalks, volunteers can reach those in need quickly.
Funds raised from MHJC members provided new radios.
To learn more, see the videos below:
Ambulance for Israel
In 2008, the MHJC Israeli and Jewish Affairs committee spearheaded a community wide campaign that raised funds from area synagogues, the Mid Island JCC and day schools for the ambulance and the MDA National Blood Services Center in Ramat Gan.
The photo at left includes Northeast Region Director Gary Perl with MHJC members Roberta Cohen and Harvey Cohen at the Plainview Old Bethpage ambulance dedication.