The MLK Community Breakfast of San Fernando Valley

Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation, has long been invested in racial equality. In addition, he is passionate about Jewish and Black community relations, and religious pluralism. In 2009, Rabbi Steven Jacobs spoke at the annual Martin Luther King (MLK) Community Breakfast in San Fernando Valley.

Every January, the San Fernando Valley African American Leadership Organization (AALO) hosts the MLK Community Breakfast at no cost to attendees. The event celebrates the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and is sponsored by the community’s churches and businesses.

Each year, AALO invites keynote speakers to the community breakfast. They share their thoughts on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy. One such speaker, Rev. Dr. Jannah Scott, reminded attendees that Dr. King spoke of things that had not yet happened as if they already had. She encouraged them to do the same, pointing out that it would make the younger generation aspire to make those possibilities a reality. Other guests have included “We Are Blessed,” a singing group whose inspiring melodies entertained the attendees.

In addition to hosting the annual MLK Breakfast, AALO seeks to provide a forum to address important issues facing San Fernando Valley’s African American community.

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Faith in Public Life’s Online Tools

Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs founded the Progressive Faith Foundation with various aims, including the encouragement of interfaith dialogue, and the enhancement of connections between practitioners of the different Abrahamic faiths. In addition, Rabbi Steven Jacobs is a member of the executive board of Faith in Public Life (FPL).

FPL presents faith as a facilitator of the causes of compassion, the common good, and justice in the public sphere. The organization’s goals include supporting the faith community’s efforts to shape debate in the public square with the design and implementation of campaigns, coalition-building, and other initiatives.

The organization offers a range of resources and tools on its website. One is Bold Faith Type, a blog that is updated regularly through the work week. Its authors write about the latest news from the faith community, and its analyses and fact-checking are of benefit to reporters, FPL partners, and other bloggers. Another tool is the Faith Map. This interactive map allows users to comb through a massive database of more than 3,000 faith-based organizations in the United States.

The FPL site also hosts Poll Spot. This tool carries polls from 2006 onwards involving religion and politics. Users can employ it to find direct links to polls sponsored by various external entities and those commissioned by FPL, as well as summaries of their findings.

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Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. – A Brief Biography

The founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs has dedicated his career to civil rights, education, and spiritual leadership for more than 40 years. In 2001, the Interfaith Alliance awarded Rabbi Steven Jacobs with the Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award, recognizing his tireless efforts in racial justice, labor rights, and the facilitation of interfaith communication.

One of the most popular American broadcast journalists and anchormen of his time, Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. is best known for his work with the CBS Evening News between 1962 and 1981. During his tenure, Walter Cronkite delivered the shocking news of President Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963.

Cronkite began his career as an editor and news content writer for United Press and Scripps Howard in the mid-1930s, and entered radio broadcasting shortly afterwards. Cronkite gained significant attention for his coverage of World War II, as well as for his reporting work following the Nuremberg Trials.

After joining CBS News in 1950, Walter Cronkite delivered frank, dependable coverage of Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, the United States space program, and the Watergate affair, among other significant events. Eleven years before his death, the Interface Alliance, of which Cronkite was the honorary chairman, established the Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award, recognizing democratic values and honorable community participation.

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The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding

On the executive board of the Progressive Faith Foundation, Rabbi Steven Jacobs maintains a busy schedule in his pursuit of healing the world—tikkum olam—and of achieving fairness for all. The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding invited Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, who received that organization’s invitation to gather with Muslim and Jewish leaders in Los Angeles, to begin the process to form a Greater LA Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee.

Based in New York City, the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU) supports racial harmony. The non-profit organization commits to promoting relations among ethnic groups. FFEU programs address Muslim-Jewish, Black-Jewish, and Latino-Jewish community relations.

Internationally recognized for its efforts to promote Muslim-Jewish relations, FFEU holds an annual event, the Weekend of Twinning. Additional Muslim-Jewish events include international delegations and conferences that feature Jewish and Muslim leaders. FFEU hosted the Delegation of Muslim and Jewish Leaders from the Southern Hemisphere in June of 2013.

FFEU’s work to promote healthy Black-Jewish relations derives its inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King’s work with the Jewish community in the United States. In its work for improved Jewish-Latino relations, FFEU promotes justice by encouraging individuals and groups to speak up in the face of racial and religious bigotry.

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Observing Shabbat Services

Through the Progressive Faith Foundation, Rabbi Steven Jacobs spreads the positive values of interfaith acceptance. He strives to bring together followers from many faiths, including Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Over the course of his life’s work, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs has received letters from members of his congregation who experienced emotional and spiritual awakenings at the services he has led, a body of effort which includes hundreds of Shabbat services.

Christians observe the Sabbath, a day of rest, on Sunday. For people of the Jewish faith, the Sabbath takes place every Friday evening through Saturday evening and offers a time to reflect on their families, their community, and spiritual growth.

On Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, individuals are given the opportunity to attend Shabbat services. These can take place virtually anywhere, indoors or outdoors, as long as the space allows worshippers to come together for prayer. The dress code is usually business casual or formal. Each worshipper receives a siddur, or prayer book, to use for the service. One type of siddur is the Mishkan T’filah; it contains traditional prayers in the Hebrew language, interpretative and literal translations, and other useful information. Interspersed with readings from siddur, worshippers get to raise their voices in song as well as conduct special prayers written to emphasize the thoughtful, people-first themes of the Sabbath.

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Honoring Humanity – The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Holiday

Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs, the founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation, tells two stories from his youth that helped mold his life. The first occurred when he was just 8 years old and witnessed the race-based harassment of a young Black boy. The second happened when he was just 13 and held a drowning victim, a boy of just 9, in his arms as he died. Both events aroused a passion for justice in his heart, and taught him that his life’s work would be as a rabbi. A few years later, as a young rabbi from the Miami area, his passion for justice sent Rabbi Steven Jacobs to Washington, D.C., where he marched shoulder to shoulder with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in protest against the Vietnam Wwar.

Every year in mid-January, Americans pause to reflect on the life, the tumultuous times, and the tragic death of Dr. King. Born on January 15, 1929, he would have turned 85 in 2014, but an assassin’s bullet cut him down in 1968. In the years since Dr. King’s death, the nation has acknowledged the importance of his life by declaring his birthday a national holiday, celebrated on the third Monday in January.

Although he stepped onto the national stage as a civil rights leader, Dr. King was so much more. When he took Rabbi Jacobs’ hand that day in Washington, D.C., he was marching not for the rights of “minorities” to be free of the ravages of racial prejudice, but for the rights of all people to be freed of the ravages of war. When he was killed in Memphis, Tennessee, he was there to support the rights of striking sanitation workers to be treated with dignity and respect.

Dr. King asked that his eulogy make no mention of the honors and awards he had been given in life; instead, he asked to be remembered for trying to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit those in prison. He wanted to be remembered for being againstright about war, and for trying to love and serve humanity.

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Robert Goodman – The First of Jesse Jackson’s Diplomatic Successes

Rabbi Steven Jacobs is the founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation and a strong advocate for social equality. During his many years fighting for civil rights, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs has worked closely with the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Recently, Jesse Jackson was reunited with US Navy pilot Robert Goodman, a man he helped free from Lebanon in 1984. Lebanon, which at the time was controlled by Syria, represented a challenge in the realm of American diplomacy. Jackson, who was running for the American presidency, stunned audiences by returning home with Goodman. He had no ties to the Syrian government and was not expected to prevail. Precedent indicated that presidential candidates visiting other countries in order to boost foreign relations had little luck, but in this case, Jackson succeeded.

Although he failed to receive the Democratic nomination, Jackson’s accomplishments in foreign policy continued to astound over the years. Following the release of Robert Goodman, Jackson played a role in freeing 22 Americans in Cuba, prisoners in Iraq prior to the Persian Gulf War, and POWs being held in Yugoslavia during the war in Kosovo in 1999.

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