Black Jews Find New Home in Marquette Park

Israelites March with Torah Scroll and Dedicate their New Synagogue
Rabbi Capers Funnye
Chicago, Illinois
June 4-5, 2004
6601 South Kedzie Ave
The second oldest congregation of African American Jews in the United States moves from the South Chicago community to Marquette Park, a community once riddled with racial tension. The new synagogue, which has twice the square footage of space than the old synagogue, was designated as a safe house for Martin Luther King Jr. when he marched in Marquette Park in the mid-’60s. The congregation’s former home located at 8927 South Houston Avenue, built in 1902, is the oldest Jewish edifice in continuous use in the Chicago metropolitan area. Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation was chartered under the name, Association of Ethiopian Settlement Workers, in 1915, a time when very few African-Americans adopted Judaism as a way of life.
Beth Shalom B’Nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation will join with approximately 300 friends and well-wishers from Christian and Jewish congregations around the country and the metropolitan area. We will march with the Torah Scroll from 67th Street and Kedzie Avenue to 6601 South Kedzie at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 5, 2004. We will dedicate the synagogue and unveil the new name plaque. “..Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

This weekend also celebrates the 10th year anniversary of the congregation’s reorganization. Following the morning service there will be tours of the two-story building. The theme of the commemorative weekend is taken from Joshua 13:1,”..and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed,” speaks to Rabbi Funnye’s visionary leadership. The festivities will kick-off on Friday, June 4, 2004, at 7:30 p.m. with an evening service and culminate on Saturday evening June 5, 2004 beginning at 9:00 p.m. with an evening of dinning, entertainment, and dancing. The public is invited. Tickets are $25.00 per person, and $12.00 for children.

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