Thanks to all who joined us in honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Friday, January 17, 2014.
Congressman John Lewis was the featured guest speaker at our special Shabbat Service.
Watch Congressman Lewis' inspiring speech, introduced by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici:
Listen to the voices of the NW Community Gospel Choir and the CBI congregational choirs below:
Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Speaker: Congressman John Lewis
Original Big Six Leader of the Civil Rights Movement
Friday, January 17
6:00 PM Temple
Congressman John Lewis, representing Georgia’s 5th District, was the featured guest speaker at our special Shabbat service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Friday, January 17, 2014. Since 2007, Beth Israel has collaborated with the African American communities in Portland to present this lecture and Shabbat service honoring the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his life, and his achievements. This highly anticipated annual celebration also features performances by members of the NW Community Gospel Chorus and Beth Israel’s congregational choirs. Past speakers have included prominent leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, including the Honorable Myron Herbert Thompson; Rev. Robert S. Graetz; Rabbi Si Dresner; and original CORE member David Dennis.
Rep. Lewis, who is often called “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” has dedicated his life to protecting human rights, securing civil liberties, and building what he calls “The Beloved Community” in America. His dedication to the highest ethical standards and moral principles has won him the admiration of many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress.
Born the son of sharecroppers outside of Troy, Alabama in 1940, Rep. Lewis was inspired as a teenager by the Civil Rights activism of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. While attending Fisk University, he organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee and later volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides.
As co-creator and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader in the Civil Rights Movement. At the age of 23, he spoke alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the historic March on Washington in August 1963, an event in which his planning was instrumental.
A firm believer in the philosophy of nonviolence, John Lewis continued to work with voter registration programs throughout the South. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency. Rep. Lewis’ elected career began in 1981 with the Atlanta City Council and escalated with his election to Congress in November 1986, serving as U.S. Representative of Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District. He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Party in leadership in the House, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.
John Lewis is a graduate of both Fisk University and the American Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, he has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Harvard University, Brown University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
This Shabbat program is generously underwritten by the Carolyn G. and Millard S. Rosenblatt Lecture Fund, an endowment established in 1986 to support lectures focusing on Contemporary Jewish Problems or Topics. Past speakers have included noted author Anita Diamant and attorney Lawrence Kaye.