Continuing its long tradition of honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Temple Beth-El of Great Neck will hold a special Shabbat service virtually on Friday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. with Nigel Gretton’s Gospel Quartet, The Afro-Semitic Experience and poignant speakers from Mother Emanuel Church of Charleston, South Carolina, among others. This year’s Humanitarian Award will be presented to Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman.
Award-winning conductor Nigel Gretton is director of performing arts at St. John’s University. In 1988, he organized Voices of Victory, a 40-member choir that performs gospel music flavored with touches of world music, classical, jazz and R&B in churches, schools and concert halls and has been featured in Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater, HBO, NBC, FOX Network and Warner Brothers Records.
The Afro-Semitic Experience, a jazz ensemble of African-American and Jewish-American musicians, is dedicated to preserving, promoting and expanding the rich cultural and musical heritage of the Jewish and African diasporas. The group’s music combines many elements of these cultures and is a celebration of the collaboration and shared struggle for racial equality and peace in America.
In commemoration of the five-year anniversary of the tragic murder of nine African-American congregants at Mother Emanuel Church of Charleston, South Carolina, Pastor Eric S.C. Manning will share a message and Blondelle Gadsden, the sister of Myra Thompson, one of the worshippers killed during Bible study, will share from her new book. An exciting main speaker will also address the congregation.
This year’s Humanitarian Award will be presented to third-term Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman. Elected to the Fifth District in 2005, she represents the villages of Saddle Rock, Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza, Russell Gardens, University Gardens, Lake Success, North New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, Floral Park and other unincorporated areas.
She has been the program director of the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce since 1975, where she promoted environmental conservation, health care, small business concerns, the economy of Long Island and computer science.
In 1995, Seeman was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and later reappointed by President George W. Bush, as a member of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. In this role, she was instrumental in establishing one of the largest cemetery monuments in Poland, dedicated to those who perished in the Holocaust.
The state Democratic Committeewoman since 1970 has also been a longtime member of the League of Women Voters, the World Jewish Congress, Hadassah, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Sierra Club.
The active Temple Beth-El member was married to the late Murray Seeman, former mayor of Great Neck Estates. She has four children and seven grandchildren.
Temple Beth-El is Great Neck’s oldest synagogue, serving the community for more than 90 years. Learn more at www.tbegreatneck.org or by calling 516-487-0900.