Commemorate MLK Day with these service and learning events

Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1963 March on Washington
Martin Luther King Jr. during the 1963 March on Washington (Rowland Scherman/Public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

By Lisa Woolfson

With Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on Jan. 18, right around the corner, there are plenty of activities to commemorate the occasion in the Baltimore Jewish community. These include opportunities to serve, such as by making a blanket at home or serving food in person, as well as to learn about social justice.

Friday, Jan. 15
Turn the Tables: Martin Luther King Jr. Shabbat
Presented by Repair the World Baltimore, One Table and Jews United for Justice
Time: 5-6:30 p.m.
A Shabbat dinner will be held over Zoom to learn about and celebrate MLK. You can pick which “table” (Zoom breakout room) you want to sit at. This event will include discussions about the legacy of Coretta Scott King, Jews, civil rights and allyship, the real and radical MLK, renters’ rights and racial reckoning.

Those who register by the day before the event will get a $10 gift card toward their Shabbat dinner. Participants are encouraged to go to Social Justice Services with Bolton Street Synagogue after dinner.

Social Justice Services with Bolton Street Synagogue
Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
At these services, Sean Johnson, a Baltimore community member, will discuss his experience growing up in Chicago, being beaten by police and having to keep going to school while dealing with what happened.

Sunday, Jan. 17
Jewish Volunteer Connection’s Martin Luther King Jr. Days of Service
(continues on Monday, Jan. 18)
Volunteers can choose to participate in service to-go projects (volunteering from home), on-site service (volunteering in the community) and virtual experiences. Ashley Pressman, the executive director of JVC, who resides in Reservoir Hill and attends Beth Am, said she expects a good turnout for the event. “People are really eager to make a difference right now,” she said. “I think there’s also a real appetite and an interest in understanding some of the systemic issues that we’ve been confronting as a nation for a long time.”

‘Baltimore’s Strange Fruit’ Film Screening
Presented by Repair the World Baltimore in collaboration with Black Yield Institute and Baltimore Hebrew Congregation
Time: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
This event is a film screening and discussion of “Baltimore’s Strange Fruit,” a documentary on how race, land, food and class politics intersect. In Baltimore’s African American neighborhoods, there are few grocery stores, and unhealthier options like fast food and corner stores are more common, leading to dietary issues in the African American community. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Eric Jackson, who co-directed the film with Maddie Hardy, and Rabbi Jessy Dressin, executive director of Repair the World Baltimore.

“It’s important to lift up food apartheid as a comparable issue that kind of builds onto, unfortunately, that history of oppression,” Jackson said.

Remington Community Clean-Up
Time: 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Hosted by Repair the World Baltimore and the Greater Remington Improvement Association
Volunteers will meet at the Repair the World office, located at 2801 Sisson St., to learn about Remington, then scatter throughout the neighborhood to pick up trash and beautify the area.

Monday, Jan. 18
Soul to Soul Virtual Concert
Time: 4 p.m.
Presented by the JCC Association of America, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and The Gordon Center for Performing Arts
This annual concert honors MLK Day by celebrating the close cooperation and alliances of the American Jewish and African American communities that have formed as a result of their intersecting histories and shared cultural legacies through music.
Tickets will cost $12 and be available for purchase through the Gordon Center website. People can watch the nationally broadcast concert through an online platform provided by the National Yiddish Theater and Goldenland Concerts and Connections.

Lisa Woolfson is a freelance writer.

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