Ever since 1969, when a group called Jews for Urban Justice commemorated the first anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination with a Freedom Seder, African-Americans and American Jews have shared Passover meals. But interfaith events are much rarer at Christmastime, when there’s very little free time for building cross-cultural bridges.
This year, though, the Charleston Jewish Community Center Without Walls is sponsoring a Hanukkah Gospel Brunch. The Dec. 13 event features bagels, noodle kugel and choirs from Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim and Charity Missionary Baptist Church singing together.
The joint performance will occur later in the program, since organizers discovered after scheduling it that Sunday morning church services run longer than they thought. “The gospel choir can’t get there until 12:45 p.m., so we’ll start with the Jewish part, and then the gospel people will be walking in, singing,” Carol Berlin says.
On Sept. 1, the Charleston JCC became officially detached from any physical structure: The gospel brunch is the first major event since the shift. Berlin says the group was hunting for an inaugural event “maybe rooted with a little Jewishness, but broad enough to get everyone in the community.” After coming across an interfaith gospel brunch online, she appealed to KKBE’s Robin Shuler for help replicating the format locally; Shuler minted the event’s “let your little light shine” theme, which alludes to both gospel song and Hanukkah’s meaning.
In addition to the traditional brunch items supplied by the Charleston Delicatessen & Bakery, the menu includes latkes and jelly doughnuts. Because the story of Hanukkah pivots on one-day’s worth of oil miraculously lasting for eight days, it’s traditional to eat fried foods for the holiday, which begins this weekend.
“It’s a celebration of the season,” Berlin says, stressing that people of all religious backgrounds are welcome.
Tickets to the 12:30 p.m. event at Woolfe Street Playhouse are $18, and can be purchased online at brownpapertickets.com/event/2402913. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tywanza Sanders Race 4 Achievement Scholarship Fund. For more information, call 843-571-6565.