Temple Beth-El To Host Charleston Families

Rabbis Tara and Meir Feldman with the victim’s family during their visit to Charleston in July
Rabbis Tara and Meir Feldman with the victim’s family during their visit to Charleston in July

The Great Neck community is invited to join Temple Beth-El at Friday evening services on Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. with family members of Myra Thompson, one of the nine murdered this past June during Bible study at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC.

This is a rare opportunity to join together as an interfaith community to pray, sing and to learn from those who, in the face of unspeakable hatred, maintain a passion for forgiveness.

The interaction will continue Saturday at 10 a.m. with Torah study and Shabbat morning prayer. Join them to celebrate Shabbat and explore the Biblical texts which continue to inform the spiritual journeys and lives of these guests and learn more about their beloved teacher, Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

In July, Rabbis Meir and Tara Feldman visited Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Zion Church. In light of the mass shooting which had occurred only two weeks before, and an overwhelming influx of visitors from all over the country, the Feldmans, with no formal invitation, didn’t know what to expect. Yet upon their arrival, they were welcomed with graciousness and warmth.

Formed in 1791, Charleston’s Mother Emanuel is the oldest A.M.E church in the south, with its beginnings as a congregation of free African Americans and slaves. Welcomed into its time-worn sanctuary, the Feldmans were able to imagine the prayers, hopes, sorrows and dreams of those who had prayed there.

The Feldmans were invited to join the community for the 6 p.m. Wednesday evening Bible study, the very same class at which the shooting occurred only two weeks before. The experience of hearing these beautiful souls speak about forgiveness and healing left them forever changed.

An unexpected result of this journey was an ongoing connection with the family of Myra Thompson, formerly a public school teacher, who was studying to be a minister and was teaching the Bible on the night she was killed. Thompson came from a large and deeply connected extended family. Through letters, email correspondence and phone calls, a friendship has evolved with Blondelle Gadsden, one of Thompson’s eldest sisters.

In early October, Gadsden made clear her hope to bring her sisters to Great Neck. On Nov. 6 and 7, the hope will become a reality and Temple Beth-El will welcome them to the community at 5 Old Mill Rd.

For further information, call 516-487-0900.

Submitted by Temple Beth-El of Great Neck

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