Reflections on MLK Day

By Lori Rubin


When my kids were little, our synagogue began partnering with an agency that delivered meals to homebound adults. Every year for the Martin Luther King Day of Service, the Social Action and Tikkun Olam committee asked members to make pints of soup.  We had a goal of making 1000 pints.  They made it easy for members by preparing sleeves of 10 pint containers with labels that you could pick up at the synagogue office.  I was the Educational Director at the time and a busy mom of three and I left the building without the pints.  The chair of the SATO committee stopped me and asked me if I would make the soup.  I couldn’t say no, so I took the sleeve. 

My kids and I thought about what kind of soup we’d like to prepare.  I hadn’t really made soup with them before.  They wanted to make vegetable noodle soup. They chopped and stirred and had a blast.  The following year, we picked up several sleeves and invited some friends over to join the soup-making party.  As the kids got older, we chose MLK Day weekend to invite camp friends to stay overnight and soup-making was always part of the plan. 

When I left the role of Educational Director, I started working for an agency that served PJ Library families.  We noticed that families were interested in programs on days when their kids didn’t have school, so we started creating programs on MLK Day.  For eight years, I worked with an assisted living facility to bring together children and seniors to make beautiful artwork to adorn their walls.  But after I facilitated the program, I was sure to go home and make soup, too!

I have spent the last 15 years or so thinking deeply about how to spend time on MLK Day and how to invite others to spend their time.  There are many ways to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He stood for civil rights, diversity and inclusion, and unconditional love. One quote of his that sticks with me is, “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”   We can “do right” in so many different ways not just on MLK Day, but every day.  We can:

·         Feed the hungry – drop a can in a canned food drive, stock a local food pantry, volunteer to deliver meals through a program like Kosher Meals on Wheels.

·         Help the homeless –Keep a box of granola bars in your car and share them with those who may be food insecure, buy an extra pair of mittens, hats, or scarves, and donate to local shelters.

·         Bring joy to others –Bake cookies for a neighbor as a surprise or send handwritten cards to family members who don’t live nearby.

Above all, we can treat each other the way we’d like to be treated, and choose to be kind.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr would have wanted and it is what I aspire to do every day.