July 22, 2009   1 Av 5769

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Gov. Quinn's Landmark Solel Visit  


  Gov. Quinn and Rabbi Taylor

Sunday May 17, Solel hosted an amazing, historic afternoon.  At 3:00 p.m., approximately 700 citizens from the northeast corner of our state gathered for an assembly in our sanctuary with Governor Patrick Quinn.  The purpose of the assembly (sponsored by Lake County United, DuPage United, PACT, and United Power for Action and Justice) was to hear the Governor's perspectives-engage in a dialogue about the critical state of our significant issues: affordable housing, education, a fair tax plan, and dealing with political corruption. The Chicago Tribune coverage emphasized the governor's stance on Illinois political ethics and underscored the concern expressed by the gathering.

The energy and excitement in the room was palpable-and reminiscent of Solel's rich social action history. State Senator Susan Garrett and State Representative Karen May were also in attendance along with Patrick Collins who chaired Governor Quinn's Illinois Reform Commission. The News-Sun's take on the event can be read here.

(Photo courtesy of Ageless North Shore)

Religious Action Center  
Photos of Dr. King's Visit to Solel recovered after 43 years!  

Photos of Dr. King’s Visit to Congregation Solel
Recovered After Forty-three Years!

Solel History

On January 17, 2009, Congregation Solel commemorated the visit by Martin Luther King, Jr. on June 30, 1966. The North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis had  sponsored Dr. King’s speech in our sanctuary. Our event forty three years hence, marking this significant historical benchmark of our congregation, it became itself the subject of an extensive report in the Chicago Tribune (January 16, 2009), written by its correspondent Robert Channick. (To read the Tribune coverage, click here.)

Ever the inquiring reporter, Mr. Channick had raised a question about the existence of photos documenting the historic occasion. Entirely accurately, the Tribune reported our answer: “Solel has no video or photos of King’s visit and there’s no transcript of his speech that night.” Two months later Sharon Diaz, the executive director of our congregation, unexpectedly received a phone call from a staff member in the office of Highland Park’s chief of police. Sharon heard the following disclosure over the telephone: “We read the Tribune report, which reminded us that our files include a small batch of photos, including a candid picture of Dr. King walking through a crowd as he was about to enter the sanctuary.”

For more information concerning this historic discovery, read the full coverage in the May Pathfinder.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Remembered  

Memory & History: Gospel Choir Concert will Commemorate Dr. King's Visit to Solel in 1966

Loyola University Chicago's Gospel Choir performed at Congregation Solel after the Friday evening Shabbat worship service on January 16, commemorating the visit to our sanctuary by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on June 30, 1966.

The Chicago Tribune (June 25, 1966) reported: "Dr. King will outline the movement to eliminate Chicago slums being conducted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which he leads."

Dr. King's speech was sponsored by the North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis. At the time he was leading the Chicago Freedom Movement, whose goal was to eradicate substandard residences and to advance the cause of fair housing. A large audience, comprised of residents from several suburban communities, heard Dr. King's speech at Congregation Solel. One congregant has recalled that security was very much evident. The program also included performances by the youth choir of the First Baptist Church of North Chicago as well as Jimmy Collier, a folk singer from Chicago.

A stirring local controversy, played out in the pages of The Deerfield Review (clippings are on file in Congregation Solel's archives), surrounded Dr. King's visit to Highland Park. In the June 29, 1966 issue of the newspaper a letter-to-the-editor written by William Carroll sought to link Dr. King to domestic Communist organizations. Mr. Carroll urged Congregation Solel to invite a representative from the Jewish Society of Americanists to also speak. Milton Bram, a founding member of our congregation, answered this letter in the next issue of The Deerfield Review (July 6, 1966). His cited Rabbi Mordecai Simon, executive director of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, who identified the Jewish Society of Americanists as an affiliate of the John Birch Society. Milton Bram's letter concluded, "Mr. Carroll might consider suggesting to the Birchers that they hire their own hall and have their own meeting."

In the wake of Dr. King's visit, the secretary of the North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis wrote to Congregation Solel. In expressing his gratitude, Rabbi Harold L. Kudan of North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe regarded the event "a very successful program." And Rabbi William Frankel of Beth Hillel Congregation in Wilmette and president of the North Shore Fellowship, termed this occasion as "most memorable."

The January 16 commemoration of Dr. King's visit to Congregation Solel began with a Shabbat Dinner at 6 p.m., followed by a Shabbat worship service at 7 PM, and the gospel choir performance at 7:45 p.m.

Related Articles 

Highland Park congregation hosted Martin Luther King, Jr. http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/jan/16/local/chi-highland-park-mlkjan16


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