Religions and Spirituality

Martin Luther King Jr. Day "Vigil for Peace" and His Connection to Springfield

Rabbi Mallach Credits: Ellen Dickson
Deputy Mayor Vassallo reading Proclamation Credits: Ellen Dickson
Township Committeewoman DuBois Credits: Ellen Dickson
Credits: Ellen Dickson
Credits: Ellen Dickson
Credits: Ellen Dickson

SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Rabbi Mark Mallach of Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael convened the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Remembrance in Township Hall this year as he has done in many previous years. This event continues to be sponsored by the Interfaith Clergy Council. Proclamations recognizing the significance of the day were read on behalf of the Township by Deputy Mayor Vassallo, and on behalf of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders by their Chairman Bruce Bergen.

Rabbi Mallach asked everyone to form a circle and share their thoughts on the importance of the day to them.  Jonathan Trent was the first to speak and he stated “I brought my daughter Abby and her friend Sophia to understand the importance of today and why she is off today.”

Newly sworn in Township Committeewoman Erica Du Bois said, “Social justice issues are a passion of mine. While we have come a long way, as an educator and as a wife of an African American man I can say we still have a long way to go.” 

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A recurring theme was that because of the high level of negativity in society it was important to be here today and reflect on how Dr. King wanted society to come together. The minister from the Presbyterian Church had numerous quotes from Dr. King including one that summed it up best, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love do that.”

During the discussion, numerous references were made to a New Jersey Monthly article from April 11, 2011 Dr. King and the Rabbi. The article had been shared in the Facebook site of the Springfield Residents Forum.  The article was about Rabbi Israel Dresner who in 1961 was a young rabbi at Temple Sha’arey Shalom.  At the time he joined the Freedom Riders to help integrate the south. He was arrested and jailed four times but he also met and became close friends with Dr. King.  

The article also mentions that Dresner’s experience on that trip is featured in a documentary from PBS called “Freedom Riders”.  Dr. King visited the temple and gave speeches to the congregation.  According to the article, “By his second visit, (to the Temple) King was already a national figure having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his dedication to the civil rights movement”. 

Here is the link to the article -

Here is the link the PBS documentary “Freedom Riders”-

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