January 21, 2008
by Matthew Dolan, Sun Reporter
If any member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation at first appeared to be subdued during the joint service with First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church, Senior Rabbi Rex D. Perlmeter offered an explanation.
"You lift your hands in prayer, and by tradition we have sat on our hands in worship," Perlmeter said of his Reform congregation's custom of relatively reserved services.
But the stillness was short-lived yesterday as both the Baptist and Jewish congregations in Baltimore took to their feet with cheers praising God at the sprawling Park Heights Avenue temple. They united for more than two hours in a song-filled, tear-soaked, dancing-in-the-aisles service for the first time this weekend to celebrate the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
In recent years, local Reform synagogues and African-American churches have held joint activities around the holiday for the slain civil rights leader in an effort to foster understanding between African-Americans and Jews, two communities that have had somewhat strained relations in the past.