50th Annual Mayor’s Community Breakfast spotlights efforts in social justice

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller emceed the city’s annual Mayor’s Community Breakfast on May 22. Screenshot from NewTV

“Go Celtics!” Mayor Ruthanne Fuller cheered as she took to the stage for the city’s 50th Mayor’s Community Breakfast on Wednesday morning at the UMass Amherst Mount Ida campus.

The annual event spotlights the city’s Harmony Foundation—founded under Mayor Theordore Mann in the 1980s to help build bridges of respect among people from different walks of life in Newton.

“It’s both the most simple goal and the hardest one in the world, to help our community build understanding and respect across racial, ethnic and religious divides,” Fuller said.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Javier Reyes spoke to the spirit of the foundation and his school’s focus on diversity and inclusion as well as exchange of diverse viewpoints.

“At a time when our nation and our world are so polarized, being able to have healthy and productive conversations grounded in fact, logic and reason has never been more critical,” Reyes said. “And we embrace our role in academia in facilitating these important conversations.”

Next, three people took the stage to represent the city’s interfaith clergy—Rev. Cheryl Kerr of United Parish of Auburndale, Islamic Center of Boston Vice President Saadia Baloch, and Rabbi Keith Stern from Temple Beth Avodah—and lead the morning’s invocation.

“A Jew, a Christian and a Muslim walk into a breakfast,” Stern joked as the three approached the microphone. “I’m still working on the punchline.”

Other speakers included Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and acting U.S. Attorney Josh Levy.

The entire breakfast was recorded by NewTV and is on YouTube.