Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Various services to honor Martin Luther King

When I was a child and something went wrong in one of our deceased neighbors’ homes — something like maybe the children weren’t living up to their parents’ teachings, my mom had some choice sayings to express her feelings:

One was, “It’s a crying shame how that child has turned out,” or “It’s a sin AND a shame, how so-and-so is acting,” or “I know his momma or daddy is turning over in his/her grave at his actions.”

I never understood how something could be both a sin AND a shame. One of them was bad enough in my opinion. Then, I couldn’t picture in my young mind how shame could even cry. Not to mention someone turning over in his/her grave at somebody’s negative actions.

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, churches, synagogues and civic organizations will celebrate the Jan. 15, 1929, birth of this great peacemaker with multiple events. I have lived long enough to understand my mom’s comments on negative character and/or behavior.

The new year had barely made its appearance when the killing started all over again. I’d held out on the hope that those who live violently would want to make a change of heart and seek peace in our communities. But it seems that the peace that Dr. King sought is a thing of the past.

It shouldn’t be this way. As we celebrate the birthday of Dr. King, it should also be remembered that he was a man who preached and lived a non-violent life. I’m sure, that if he could, he would be “turning over in his grave” at how the violence has overtaken our country’s communities.

He would probably say, as my mom would say, “it’s a crying shame” how the drive-by shootings have become the norm in some communities.

Still, some people remember Dr. King and what he stood for and this weekend, starting Friday, some of us will celebrate his peaceful life.

Others will probably take the day to do business as usual — seek to promote their violent way of life. While I am praying that those who do the violence will take the time to reflect on Dr. King’s life and the peace he stood for, I know that is only a dream for some of us.

And that my friends, is a “sin AND a shame.”


Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom will have a special Friday night service in honor of the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., at 8:15. . The guest speaker will be Henry Crespo Sr., the managing director of The Relocation and Development Firm. He also is the co-host and co-founder of Gray Zone Media, a political radio show in Miami that can be heard on 880 AM Radio.

Light refreshments will be served following the service. Everyone is invited. The synagogue is at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami.

For more information call 305-205-3846.


Temple Sinai at 18801 NE 22nd Ave. in North Miami Beach, will honor Dr. King’s memory during a special interfaith Shabbat at 7 p.m. Friday. The Rev. Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr. will be the guest speaker.

Dr. LaFayette is an ordained minister, a longtime civil rights activist and an authority on nonviolent social change. In 1960, he co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and was a core leader in the civil rights movement with Dr. King, who appointed him to be the national program administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and national coordinator of the 1968 Poor People's Campaign.

Dr. LaFayette currently is Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta and the chair of the national board of SCLC.

Since 2008, Rabbi Alan Litwak has led the annual interfaith MLK Shabbat with Bishop Victor T. Curry, the senior pastor at New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith in Northwest Miami. Both congregational choirs will sing and celebrate together.

The on-going relationship between the Jewish and African-American Christian communities is important, Litwak said, because “We have a responsibility to be in dialogue.”

“Dialogue is not about persuading or advocating or competing with others of the validity of our point and rejecting the ideas of another, but rather it is understanding that we are all part of a common humanity. When we dialogue with each other, we appreciate our differences and celebrate our commonalities.”

Everyone is invited. For more information call 305-932-9010 or email:

Also, Rabbi Litwak, the Rev. Richard Dunn and other local leaders from SCLC will hold a press conference at 11:45 a.m. Thursday at the temple.


The memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be honored in song and worship at two services Friday at Temple Israel of Greater Miami.

At 6:30 p.m., a “Service of the Heart,” led by Rabbi Tom Heyn, will be held. Musical guests will be the Overtown Music Project’s Mel Dancy and Tree Top.

Dancy is an accomplished pianist and lyricist, jazz maestro who has collaborated with Dizzy Gillespie, Thad Jones and the New York Jazz Quartet.

Tree Top is a South Florida blues, soul and R&B veteran, who has been performing for more than 50 years. He has shared the stage with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, and B.B. King.

The Shabbat evening service will start at 7:30 p.m. with Rabbi Heyn and director of music Dr. Alan Mason and the Temple Israel Singers.

An Oneg and schmoozing will follow. Families are welcome; the temple offers free childcare. Temple Israel is located at 137 NE 19th St. in downtown Miami.


The city of Miami Gardens will host a community celebration to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Betty Ferguson Sports Complex, 3000 NW 199th St. in Miami Gardens.

There will be community resource information, live entertainment, bounce houses, food trucks and lots of fun.

It’s free and open to the community. Call 305-622-8000 or visit for more information.


Producer and Orchestral/Opera conductor Jeffrey Eckstein will again present a concert called “Flamenco Sephardit,” which is a fusion of pure flamenco with Jewish Ladino and classical music, at 7 p.m. Sunday at Temple Emanu-El, 1701 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach.

Last year, when Eckstein presented the program, he said about 1,200 people were in the audience.

The show will feature international opera stars, flamenco masters and members of the New World Symphony.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the performance and are available online at: or by calling 305-538-2503.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.