Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JAN-FEB 2016

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About a year ago, during Friday night services, I heard a story that reminded me of how far we've come toward justice and how much work is left to do. My family and I were at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, the big temple at 65th and Meridian. Earlier that day, my buddy, Rabbi Brett Krichiver, and I bumped into each other during the morning ritual of walking our kids into school. Tere's another ritual we both enjoy: Shabbat services, though I'm inclined to believe the good rabbi's attendance is slightly better than mine. Rabbi Krichiver invited us to services at his synagogue, so of we went to a diferent shul and Shabbat. Te biggest diference for us came about halfway through the service, when the rabbi gives a sermon. I looked forward to hearing my friend speak, but on this night, he introduced a colleague, an African-American pastor named Clarence Moore. Tis was surely a diferent audience for him – talking to reserved Jewish congregants sitting quietly in their seats vs. preaching to the more vocal and responsive members of a black church. Pastor Moore spoke of his New Era Church and that he's always amazed how God "orchestrates" lives, specifcally mentioning Rabbi Krichiver. Te two of them work with others to bridge cultural divides through IndyCAN (Indianapolis Congregation Action Network). Te good pastor also shared how his popular church almost didn't get a chance to grow. It was the late 1940s, and the burgeoning congregation needed money to add onto its building. Unfortunately, banks of the day followed the rest of our country in embracing rampant discrimination and racism. Loans were nearly impossible for blacks to acquire. His church's forefathers ended up getting the funds from an unusual source: a Jewish builder who worked only in the black community (his projects included 17 churches and a rollerskating rink). Moore explained that the builder loaned the church $100,000 to complete its new sanctuary. An ironic twist: Te original church housed a congregation of white Methodists who had purchased the building from the Ku Klux Klan at the turn of the 20th century. Talk about God working in mysterious ways.Tis man crossed cultural boundaries to give opportunity to others. Many people told him not to make the loan, as the congregation wasn't worthy of, let alone capable of repaying, his help. He didn't listen. Te story struck home with me. First, there's a long history of the African-American and Jewish communities working together. And I liked that this rebel didn't listen to naysayers. I'd also fgured out that the Jewish builder was David Kreiger. Otherwise known as Poppy to everyone in my family, he was my great-grandfather, known for his huge heart. After services, I told Pastor Moore how moved I was. I said the Jewish builder was a heck of a guy and that I could only hope to become half the man he was. Ten I thanked him for talking about the loan, as it was a family story I hadn't heard. I also thanked Rabbi Krichiver for his community work and inviting us that serendipitous night. It started us on our path to fnding our spiritual home. Later, I thought of more recent examples of our communities working together. We strove with each other during the civil rights movement. Pastors, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., sought the aid of rabbinic friends, including IHC's former Rabbi Murray Saltzman, during numerous marches and rallies. When we celebrate Dr. King's day in January and Black History Month in February, we honor the clergy and community members who have fought and died before us. We're all connected by our shared humanity. May the tradition of diferent people working together keep calling us to help, as Pastor Moore put it, make Dr. King's dream a reality. Shalom. And Amen! Jefrey Cohen, Editor-in-Chief If you have a story about someone who did an unexpected good deed, I'd love to hear it. Send an email to From the Editor-in-Chief i s s l i g h t l y b e t t e T f o n a t h s p t h U r a H i s c h u r c h 30

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