Asbury Park School Superintendent Lamont Repollet brought a little faith of his own to Congregation Torat El last week and issued “a call to action” during the temple’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration held on Jan. 13.
Repollet, who was the keynote speaker, said there has been poor parental involvement in Asbury Park.
“The community matters. People need to stand up and say `enough is enough’ and take back their families, their communities, and their education,” he said. “Let us be united to save our students.”
Repollet said he is calling on people of all faiths to raise and lift students up, saying it is his “call to action.”
“And expose them to education and culture them. I challenge every adult to create a brighter future by reaching out,” he said.
Repollet pointed out that Judaism is a rich culture that in many ways parallels the American Civil Rights Movement, reminding people that Dr. King had many Jewish supporters, including some who were Freedom Riders.
“There is a strong relationship between Blacks and Jews in the Civil Rights Movement,” he said.
Congregation Torat El, on Monmouth Road in Ocean Township, was holding its 11th annual tribute to Dr. King and Rabbi Aaron Schonbrun said he couldn’t agree with Repollet more.
“To me, it’s all about Jewish values. The idea that everyone is sacred and equal and special. We work for fairness, justice and equality and these are the themes that Dr. King lived for,” he said.
Rabbi Schonbrun said Dr. King’s legacy reminds him of the Exodus, when enslaved Hebrews were set free in Egypt.
“And the Torah is about the same values. The Torah reminds us to care about other people and the Civil Rights Movement is a perfect fit for our values,” he said.
And he said the annual Dr. King Tribute will continue.
“Sometimes you have to take action and this annual program is the beginning that. It brings attention to show that the Jewish community also cares about the same issues- that’s a part of who we are. That’s why we come together every year and say these shared values are important and sacred. It is a nice, shared-humanity moment in a world that is all too polarized much of the time,” he said.
The theme this year was “Education, Equality and Community Partnership, emphasizing a collaboration between the Asbury Park School district and stakeholders in the surrounding communities.
Speakers were Rabbi Schonbrun, from Congregation Torat El; Repollet, Donald Warner; former superintendent of the Red Bank school district; and Frank Rother, Dean of Social Sciences at Brookdale Community College
Performances by choirs from both the Second Baptist Church in Long Branch and from Living Word Christian Fellowship in Neptune received enthusiastic applause from the crowd.