Today is January 16, 2021 -

Congregation Beth Israel

A spiritual oasis for the Jewish community

6 Dundee Park
Andover, MA 01810

(978) 474-0540

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The Leadership’s Corner


January is the month we honor and celebrate the legacy of the civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. The holiday, close to his January 15th birthday, is a day of service. It is written to be “a Day on, not a day
off”. MLK Day is the only Federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Ameri-
cans to volunteer to improve their communities. It is a day Americans pay tribute to the non-violent struggle
of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his colleagues, such as Rep. John Lewis who were making “good
trouble” to help right the wrongs.

For a few years I have thought it would be meaningful for CBI to find a forum to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After all, we Jews know oppression and know the support and kindness of non-Jews on our behalf who have been lifesavers. So, too, in a world when racism is still sadly dominant, we Jews must work in Anti-Racist ways so that compassion, respect, and egalitarianism, is the norm of our culture. We must each
tackle our own personal racist views or actions so we can be the “better Jew “we wish to be. We know this is
a process through education and honest discussions. It is a time we must try to take off our defenses so we are
more open to change. It may mean we are stepping out onto that veritable limb, knowing we could fall at any
time, but willing to risk, with the hopes of gaining new heights.

This new secular year, on Sunday, January 10th, CBI will honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
as we welcome Rev. Irene Monroe, an outstanding, engaging, and much sought after speaker to address CBI,
guest congregations, and the community, via Zoom. Rev. Monroe will speak on the “Intersectionality of

Racism, Oppression and anti-Semitism: One Tree with Many Roots”. We recognize this is an important top-
ic, which may feel immense and sometimes uncomfortable, but we also know “the limb” is where it’s at if we
each wish to grow and make changes. During the Sunday morning session, Rev. Irene will both give a talk
and give us an opportunity to have frank discussion, with time for questions and answers.

On a separate but similar subject, I was googling the history of Black History Month and I found it had its
roots back in 1926 in “Negro History Week”. Wikipedia credits Carter G. Woodson for announcing the
second week of February would be the designated week because it coincided with the birthdays of both
Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson contended teaching black history “was essential to
ensure the physical and intellectual survival of the race within society.”

Woodson wrote: “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the
thought of the world and it stands the danger of being exterminated…..The Hebrew keenly appreciated the
value of tradition, as is attested by the Bible itself. In spite of worldwide persecution, the Hebrew is a great
factor in our civilization.”

Only 4 months ago we were wishing each other Happy New Year and here we go again. Yes, as Jews, we are
lucky to have 2 chances in a 12-13-month cycle for new starts and new chances.

May 2021 bring joy to our hearts, health, appreciation for one another and our hamesha community of CBI.

Caren Jacobsen