Churches, temples and community organizations will host a plethora of interfaith events over the coming weekend culminating on Martin Luther King Jr. Day next Monday to celebrate the Civil Rights icon’s legacy and combat hate, faith leaders said.
“We have to become what Dr. King said, a ‘beloved community’ where everybody is accepted for who they are,” said Richard Koubek, chair of Abraham’s Table of Long Island, an interfaith coalition formed in 2015.
Koubek of Dix Hills noted the urgency this year to take a stand, citing hate incidents where antisemitic flyers were tossed onto homes in several Island communities last summer.
“These acts of hatred begin with words and escalate,” he said.
Last year, the Anti-Defamation League said antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the country in 2021 and New York State reported the highest number of incidents.
On the Island, a Ronkonkoma mosque’s crescent-shaped sign was damaged by an incendiary device over the Fourth of July weekend. In October, a Medford man was sentenced to 3½ years in prison for attacking Hispanic day laborers. And last month, an Aquebogue man was indicted on charges of making antisemitic threats.
“The faith community needs to speak up now,” Koubek said. “We call this becoming a beloved community. We're not there yet. We have to work at it.”
About two dozen programs are set to take place from Friday through Monday from Roslyn to Stony Brook under the banner of "Beloved Community Interfaith Responses to Hate on Long Island" organized by Abraham’s Table. The events include a keynote talk by Frank Meeink on Jan. 16 at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center in Commack.
Meeink is a former white supremacist who spent several years in prison for kidnapping one man and beating another for hours. He later became an anti-hate activist.
Meeink’s story goes “to show that the most hateful people can become anew and that they can leave hate behind,” said Bat-Sheva Slavin, vice chair of Abraham’s Table and director of Jewish Education at the Suffolk Y JCC.
“Obviously with all the haters going on on Long Island against people of color, against the Jewish [community], against Asians, and against Muslims, we have to stand up shoulder to shoulder and show: ‘Yes, we are different. Yes, we are unique. But we can all work together,’” said Slavin of Roslyn.
Other events include:
- Jan. 13: 10 a.m., Beloved Community activities opening brunch, featuring speakers and musical presentations at the Suffolk Y JCC in Commack.
- Jan. 15: 3 p.m., Getting To Know You: An Evening of Diverse Multicultural Music and Dance at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn Heights.
- Jan. 15: 3 p.m., the Poor People's Campaign is hosting a State of the State program at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Roman Catholic Church in Wyandanch.
- Jan. 15: 5 p.m., dinner and conversation with Calvin Alexander Ramsey, author of children’s book “Ruth and the Green Book” and the play “The Green Book,” at Kehillath Shalom Synagogue in Cold Spring Harbor.
- Jan. 15: 5-6 p.m., the local chapters of NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League are hosting a webinar, "Building Bridges: A Discussion Between the Black and Jewish Communities."
For more event listings, visit www.abrahamstableli.org/events.html.