Israeli president comes to Brooklyn

Israeli president comes to Brooklyn
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

The president of Israel visited Brooklyn on Sunday to discuss the importance of the relationship between the African-American and Jewish communities and the communities’ common goals at the Christian Cultural Center in East New York.

Thousands of residents attended the international ceremony, which featured a speech by Reuven Rivlin — Israel’s 10th president — on the history and future of the two communities, who have historically fought together for equality. Rivlin said the two civil-rights-minded communities must continue to be catalysts for change, and remind the world of the atrocities of slavery and the Holocaust to prevent future generations from forgetting their communities’ painful pasts.

“We must remember, we must educate, for the lessons of the past to be learned — that is the key to our freedom,” Rivlin said.

The service, which featured live music in English, Spanish, and Hebrew, was held — not coincidentally — between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Revlin said he drew inspiration from King, who often marched alongside rabbis, and said that — just like the famous civil rights leader — he hopes there will be peace for the people of Israel and the rest of the world.

“I also have a dream,” said Rivlin, who was interrupted by a surge of applause. “I have a dream that, once again, God will knock on our door. I dream that Jerusalem, a microcosm of the world, will serve as a model of coexistence between different communities and religions.”

An elected official who attended the ceremony said the two communities have always worked together to fight for equality — and he said that he knows residents will continue fighting together for a fairer future.

“The African-American community and the Jewish community have a great history together, and as long as we continue to work together — stay together — I’m confident that our two communities will remain close and strong, and one day soon, our people will together cross over into the promised land of a better way of life,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Bergen Beach).

A volunteer at the cultural center said Christians and the Jewish community are bound together with their similarities that — just like faith — can’t always be explained with words.

“Culturally, the faiths are so connected,” said Andrew Pulao. “There is a bond that goes beyond physical connection — it is a spiritual bond.”

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.
Ceremony celebration: Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin and Christian Cultural Center pastor A.R. Bernard exchange plaques with one another.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto