Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during the annual Shabbat Service honoring...

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during the annual Shabbat Service honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, Friday. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Gov. Kathy Hochul invoked the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Friday night in an interfaith service in which she called on allies to stand up against hate and antisemitism.

Hochul spoke at Temple Beth-El in Great Neck, where King spoke to about 1,200 supporters in 1967. In that address, the civil rights icon spoke about two Americas, one of prosperity and the other half “full of despair and injustice,” Hochul said.

The governor said many of those disparities still exist in America and also New York, especially for communities of color.

“We're still not achieving that equality that Dr. King envisioned all those years ago,” Hochul said. “But more than just talk, we have to do something about it.”

Hochul noted that Friday marked 100 days since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel, where 240 people were taken hostage and more than 1,100 were killed. More than 23,300 civilians have been killed in Gaza during the Hamas-Israel war, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

She said the hostages still include eight Americans and Plainview's Omer Neutra, who was captured while serving in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Hochul quoted King as saying: “The time is always right to do what's right,” in calling for the hostages to be brought home.

“It's shocking to me that 100 days later, there are still people in captivity," Hochul said. “We mourn the loss of every single innocent civilian. But I want our hostages brought home … Where are the allies today who should be standing with Jewish people against antisemitism?”

Hochul repeated King's quote, “The arch of the moral universe is long but does bend toward justice.” She then paraphrased him, saying “it doesn't bend toward justice by itself, it takes the people united together to bend it and unite it in that cause.”

The annual ceremony is an effort to bring the Black and Jewish communities together, said the synagogue's president Gary Slobin.

“We really have a lot more in common than what separates us. The Jewish community has also been pivotal in the civil rights movement, and marched with Dr. King and other civil rights leaders,” Slobin said. “We feel that it's important every year to bring our communities together to sing to pray, and to celebrate the life of Dr. King, and reflect on all the accomplishments we've had and all the things that we still have to accomplish.”

The service included a prayer for Jewish hostages held by Hamas while hundreds of missing hostage posters lined the wall of the temple. The service prayed that “one day those hostages may open their eyes to freedom.”

Slobin quoted King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

He said King's message was needed to fight hate and antisemitism.

“Dr. King's message was to bring people together to tear down barriers and fight hate. And we're seeing a lot of hate in this world,” Slobin said. "I think if Dr. King were here, he would stand with us to fight antisemitism and support the Jewish people. So, it's important to celebrate a man that you believe would stand with us as we stood with him.”

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