Vi at Aventura Resident Was a Witness to Historical Event

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Rabbi Seymour Friedman Remembers Rabbinical Delegation to Birmingham That Met With Reverend Martin Luther King 50 Years Ago

Vi at Aventura resident Rabbi Seymour “Sy” Friedman

Vi at Aventura resident Rabbi Seymour “Sy” Friedman

We felt it was the right thing to do. In the Jewish faith we believe it is about dignity of the human individual.

Fifty years ago this week, a resident of Vi at Aventura was present in Birmingham, AL for one of the most important events in recent history.

Resident Rabbi Seymour “Sy” Friedman was one of a contingent of 19 rabbis from the Northeast U.S. who flew to Birmingham, AL in May 1963 to show support for the injustices suffered by African Americans.

Rabbi Friedman has been a resident of Vi at Aventura, a continuing care retirement community where he has lived for more than 10 years with his wife Dvora. He continues to lead and participate in religious services at the community.

The four-day rabbinical mission to Birmingham predates the historic March on Washington which is being celebrated this week across the country. In fact, the Birmingham mission thrust the religious leaders into the throes of the civil rights movement and created a personal connection to Reverend Martin Luther King.

Four months before the famous Washington March, rabbinical leaders from the New York area passed a resolution to send a delegation to Birmingham. The Rabbinical Assembly of America met and posed a question about how spiritual leaders “could be concerned only with Nazi cruelty when acts of injustice to fellow human beings were taking place in our country.”

The rabbis flew to Birmingham and visited numerous African American churches and demonstrated support by meeting and singing with parishioners. As Rabbi Friedman explained, “We felt it was the right thing to do. In the Jewish faith we believe it is about dignity of the human individual.”

In recalling the visit Rabbi Friedman said: “We were participants in their church services and my role was to lead the parishioners in singing. We taught them and they sang an ancient Hebrew hymn.”

The rabbis also met with Reverend Martin Luther King who had just been released from a Birmingham jail. “King was a very inspiring, charismatic leader,” said Rabbi Friedman. About Rabbi Friedman, Vi at Aventura Executive Director James Edwartoski said: “He has spent his entire life educating and mentoring people both inside and outside his faith. His early involvement in the civil rights movement is a perfect example of the caring individual that he is. He certainly was way ahead of his time when he went to Birmingham.”

About Vi
Vi (pronounced vee), recently celebrated its 25th anniversary as a developer, owner and operator of senior living communities. The company is dedicated to enriching the lives of older adults by providing quality environments, services and care. Vi currently operates ten continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) nationwide. For more information about Vi Aventura on West Country Club Drive, call 305-692-4501 or visit

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