“Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow” and Friday Night Services at B’nai Jeshrun in NYC

Written by Amanda Mauri, Friends Select High School (OU 2009) and Ben Perelman, Penn Charter (OU 2009)

This morning we visited “Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow”, an exhibit at The Museum of Jewish Heritage.  The exhibit showed similarities between African-Americans and Jews during periods of common struggle and discrimination. It was a very informative and emotional museum. Later in the day, we visited Crown Heights and ate lunch with Mr. Green. Mr. Green is the leader of an after school in Crown Heights that deals with African-American children. He has become a leader in his community, and is often looked upon for help in times of distress. For example, there is often tension between the Hasidic Jews and African-Americans in Crown Heights. Mr. Green acts as a mediator between the two communities, and often sits down with leaders from the Jewish community to discuss their differences in a peaceful manner. He also gave us lunch, which is always appreciated.

We then went back to the YMCA to prepare for Friday night services at B’nai Jeshrun on the Upper West Side.  The service was a shock to all of us because it was not your typical synagogue. Rather than using the traditional methods of prayer, this congregation uses several different instruments to liven up the service. This made everyone extremely comfortable and excited to be a part of the service. Thus far, it has been an incredible and thought provoking experience, and we cannot wait for the rest of our journey.

Until then, we’re gonna go get some sleep. Nighty night.

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