How you can mark MLK Day in the Jewish community

DCJCC’s Community Service Coordinator, Elena Frenkel (left), Leslie Dow (center) and Jared Lang (right) touch up the paint around a Martin Luther King Jr. mural at the Community for Creative Non-Violence, the largest homeless shelter in metro D.C., as part of the DCJCC’s MLK Day of Service on January 19, 2015.

MLK Day has become an opportunity to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering, advocating and learning on topics related to the civil rights leader’s legacy, such as anti-racism and anti-poverty work.

But it’s important not to let this activism be a one-day event, said Rabbi Sarah Krinsky of Adas Israel Congregation, which is hosting its own activities on the weekend of MLK Day.

Instead, MLK Day should be “a chance to lift up and to highlight and to recommit to work that we’re doing year round,” she said.

“It has to be about what happens every day of the year, not just on this one weekend,” Krinsky continued. “Jews do this all the time. We do this with our own spiritual lives on Yom Kippur. If it’s helpful to have a day to take stock of where we are in our commitments to justice and anti-racism and how we are living that out, then let’s use this day to take stock, but let’s not allow it to be a one-time event.”

Here are some opportunities to get involved with the Jewish community this MLK Day weekend:

Friday, Jan. 13

Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend
Adas Israel Congregation
2850 Quebec St. NW
Washington, D.C.
Beginning with a Friday Night Shabbat Festival, Adas Israel Congregation is hosting a weekend of programming for MLK Day. This includes happy hours, a guest speaker and a Shabbat morning service with music honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
More information at

MLK Shabbat: Visions of Freedom and Justice
7 p.m.
Sixth & I
600 I St. NW
Washington, D.C.
Sixth & I and the Turner Memorial AME Church are holding this service commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. There will be words of inspiration, as well as music from Turner Memorial’s praise team and Sixth & I musicians.
More information at

Temple Emanuel’s Annual
Martin Luther King Jr. Shabbat
7:30 p.m.
Temple Emanuel
10101 Connecticut Ave.
Temple Emanuel is hosting guest speaker Gloria Shepherd for its annual MLK Shabbat. Shepherd is the executive director of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, and part of her work is advancing projects that address racial injustice.
For more information, contact
[email protected].

Sunday, Jan. 15

Beth El Hebrew Congregation’s MLK Jr. Day of Service
10 a.m.-noon
Beth El Hebrew Congregation
3830 Seminary Road
This is Beth El Hebrew Congregation’s first MLK Day of Service. Participants will hear from a keynote speaker from the Boys and Girls Club and complete service projects, including care kits for the homeless and Undies for Everyone packing.
More information at

Monday, Jan. 16

Congregation Etz Hayim’s MLK Day of Service
8:45 a.m.-2 p.m.
Washington-Liberty High School
1301 N. Stafford St.
Congregation Etz Hayim is one of the sponsors for Volunteer Arlington’s MLK Day of Service at Washington-Liberty High School. To be a part of Etz Hayim’s volunteer team, contact [email protected].
More information at

Washington Hebrew Congregation’s
MLK Day of Service
10 a.m.-noon
Washington Hebrew Congregation
3935 Macomb St. NW
Washington, D.C.
Washington Hebrew Congregation is joining with volunteers in the interfaith community for a variety of volunteer projects that participants can do at Washington Hebrew Congregation or at home to be dropped off at the synagogue on MLK Day of Service, as well as projects that can be done at home anytime.
More information at

MLK Family Mitzvah Day 2023
10:30 a.m.-noon
Edlavitch DCJCC
1529 16th St. NW
Washington, D.C.
At the Edlavitch DCJCC, MLK Family Mitzvah Day attendees will be able to participate in a variety of volunteer activities, as well as in story time and advocacy. This event is in partnership with PJ Library.
More information at

Tzedek DC’s MLK Day of Service
2-3:30 p.m.
Tzedek DC’s headquarters at the UDC School of Law
4340 Connecticut Ave. NW
Suite 319
Washington, D.C.
Join Tzedek DC for some coffee and hot chocolate and help make activity kits for children who are accompanying adults to legal and social services appointments. RSVPs are required.
For more information, contact [email protected]. ■

Selah Maya Zighelboim is a freelance writer.

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