‘Jewish Jihadi’ statement calls for reconciliation between Jews and Muslims

October 3, 2012 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The week of Yom Kippur, news broke about the vandalism of the controversial posters that the American Freedom Defense Initiative placed in the New York subway system, and about the MTA’s decision to clearly identify such posters as paid advertisements. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn-based founder of The Dialogue Project, Marcia Kannry, also posted in subway stations a response as part of her Yom Kippur reflections that, in social-media terms, “went viral.”

During Yom Kippur, the holiest and most solemn day of the Jewish calendar, Kannry reflected on the significance of repentance and of respecting one’s neighbor even when wider society may revile that neighbor. She also referred back to an original definition of jihad as an inner personal struggle against evil, rather than to a widely-held connotation of that word as “holy war.”

The text of Kannry’s reflection, titled, “I AM A JEWISH JIHADI:” reads, in part: “On Yom Kippur, I am fasting and reflecting. I am a Jewish Jihadi.

“Jihad is an Islamic process of reflection and struggle to bring thoughts, words and actions in alignment with prayer and best ethical practices. So too as Jews we practice sleichot (asking for forgiveness), and teshuva (return to good), offering compensation, asking for forgiveness from the humans whom we have offended.”

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Referring to the month of Elul (rather than to the current month of Tishri, which began on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah), Kannry pointed out the link between the Hebrew word “Elul” and the Arabic month Eylul. “Our roots are interwoven as is our spirituality. I ask my Muslim brothers and sisters to forgive those Jews whose fear and ignorance only points outward, rather than inward as this day of Yom Kippur asks us to do. To my fellow Jews – G’mar Hatima Tova.”

She updated her statement on her Facebook page, as well as on Twitter.  

Then Kannry and fellow Dialoguers got the idea to post her “Jewish Jihadi” message in subway stations immediately adjacent to the “Defeat Jihad” posters.  They felt it important to use adjacent space between posters, instead of infringing on anyone else’s First Amendment rights. In a couple of cases, though, they had to place their poster over an utility-company ad. Police immediately removed the poster at the Times Square station, the Dialogue Project reported on Facebook. Posters were also put up at Grand Central Station, 49th St. and on stops along the N train line.

The Huffington Post picked up the story.  A group named Rabbis for Human Rights also conducted a drive to raise funds for their own subway ad, with a message similar to Ms. Kannry’s.

Kannry, a past honoree of the Faye Schenck Zionist Professional of the Year Award for the Jewish National Fund/American Zionist Federation, founded The Dialogue Project in the spring of 2001. According to its mission statement, “The Dialogue Project is a conflict transformation organization. Our mission is to develop mutual trust, relationships and partnerships among ourselves – long-time citizens, new immigrants, Palestinians, Israelis and people of diverse faiths and cultures.

“We explore differences and common values; the intersection of new immigrant traditions with our western cultures, and move from personal empowerment to community empowerment. We identify issues and action projects that affect our lives in New York and our families in the Middle East and the world. We cultivate a space where we choose to take a risk with each other, and the opportunity to practice: active and generous listening, reflection, speaking from the “I” without attack, and acknowledgement. We meet regularly and with commitment. We find we have differences and we also learn how to make spaces for each other, as the unique humans we are, each of us inheriting a world view and narrative so different than the other.”


Local Episcopal churches participate In Openhousenewyork weekend

Several Brownstone Brooklyn Episcopal churches are participating in this year’s Openhousenewyork Weekend, coming up on Saturday and Sunday, October 6-7, including one severely damaged in a storm last summer.

Openhouse celebrates the architectural beauty of several historic sites throughout New York City, through tours and other presentations.

According to the Openhousenewyork’s online program guide, Christ Church-Cobble Hill, which suffered extensive structural damage in a storm last July, is one of the participants.

The Very Rev. Ronald T. Lau, rector of Christ Church, confirmed via email last week that “We are participating, in theory. A lot depends on if the street has been opened by then.  Whatever happens we will have Christ Church members to speak with folks and materials for people to read and take with them.  Obviously the interior of the church will not be open for view.” Fr. Lau added that he had spoken with the organizers of Openhousenewyork about Christ Church’s situation.

St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church on Clinton and Montague streets is also joining the historic city sites welcoming visitors as part of Openhousenewyork. Guided tours will be offered of world-famous stained glass windows. Visitors may also conduct self-guided tours. Gregory Eaton, director of music, will offer mini organ concerts each day on the 1925 Peabody Memorial Organ, a landmark in its own right.

St. Ann’s will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, with organ concerts at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Window tours will be given at noon, 2 and 4 p.m. On Sunday, the church will be open at 1 p.m., following 11 a.m. worship. Organ concerts will be given at 2 and 4 p.m., and a window tour will be given at 1 p.m. Open House on Sunday runs until 5 p.m.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (199 Carroll St/Clinton St, in Carroll Gardens) hosts its tour of Openhousenewyork on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, following worship, from noon to 5 p.m.  The church, was architect Richard M. Upjohn’s parish church “and among the first of his famous High Victorian Gothic buildings. The interior contains much of Upjohn’s original design, stenciling, woodwork and stained glass,” according to the program guide.

The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew (520 Clinton Ave. at Fulton St, Fort Greene/Clinton Hill) participates in Openhousenewyork on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. The church, with an Italian Romanesque-style exterior, was designed by John Welch in 1888, with renovation in 1915. The interior includes one of the largest rose windows in Brooklyn—28 feet in diameter.


Grace Church singers and friends give benefit for “Water is Life-Kenya’

Professional Broadway and concert singers who are part of the Grace Church Choir will present a benefit for Water Is Life-Kenya.

This fourth annual benefit concert will raise funds for Water is Life–Kenya (WILK) to help this organization in its continued efforts of developing critical water resources for poor, rural communities in Kenya. Such developments include drilling of deep and shallow water wells, construction of water pipelines and rainwater harvesting, and income generation through bead work and improved livestock rearing practices to sustain water supply, improve life and access to education.

The concert celebrates various musical genres with performers including Grace Church’s own Michael Fawcett; Mary Bowen and Val Vollmer, professional Broadway singers; Keen Dance Company, NY Song & Dance Co., Professional African Drumming Group, professional opera singers and more. Joyce Tannian, the founder of Water Is Life–Kenya, will be present to tell her story.

The concert takes place at Grace Church, in the sanctuary, on Monday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, with children under age 10 free).

All money raised will go to Water is Life–Kenya.

Reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres will follow in Guild Hall. The benefit also features a There will also be a raffle, Kenyan jewelry sale and a silent auction!


Barclays Center will host finale of Verizon-sponsored Gospel Fest

The Barclays Center at the nexus of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, which opened last Friday, hosts the grand finale of Verizon’s “How Sweet the Sound” Gospel Fest.

This Gospel Music celebration features Feature today’s major Gospel stars, including Donald Lawrence, Yolanda Adams, Erica Campbell of Mary Mary, Fred Hammond, Bishop Hezekiah Walker and CeCe Winans.

New York –Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound™ Gospel Celebration, considered the nation’s premiere and most prestigious gospel music competition, is back for its fifth year. Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound™ Gospel Celebration pays tribute to gospel music and provides choirs a platform to showcase their talent. This year, regional events have been held in Dallas, Atlanta, Washington, Newark, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles, with the Finale being held at the Barclays Center on Nov. 4.

Choirs have the opportunity to rejoice in song and praise; sing in front of gospel greats and fans; and compete for a chance to win up to $50,000 in cash and prizes.

“Verizon is pleased to once again bring this dynamic program to the community,” said Marquett Smith, vice president of corporate communications and community relations, Verizon Wireless. “Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound™ allows us to connect with our customers and celebrate the impact that local church choirs and gospel music have on the community.”

Grammy award-winning, songwriter, producer, arranger and music director Donald Lawrence returns as host. Joining him is Grammy award-winning entertainer, producer, author and syndicated radio host Yolanda Adams. Erica Campbell of Mary Mary, Fred Hammond, Bishop Hezekiah Walker and CeCe Winans will serve as resident judges for this year’s competition.

Last year, Tarboro, N.C.-based Salvation and Deliverance Church Choir won the grand prize and the title “Best Gospel Choir in America.” The choir used the prize money to support “Weight On The Lord,”  a program designed to help people in their community make healthier lifestyle choices. They were also able to kick off their “How Sweet The Tidings” program just in time for the holidays. The program afforded them the chance to adopt five families for the holidays, giving them food and gifts.

Tickets to the 2012 Verizon How Sweet the Sound™ are on sale now. For more details about Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound™ including video content, judging criteria, ticket sales information, and official rules, please visit www.HowSweettheSound.com.


Milestones in Faith: Congregation Beth Elohim marks sesquicentennial by creating new Sefer Torah scroll

Congregation Beth Elohim. Photo by Josh Ross

Congregation Beth Elohim’s opening ceremony of its 150th anniversary celebration takes place this Sunday, October 7, with keynote speaker Nicole Krauss.

The centerpiece of the 150th anniversary celebration is the Sefer Torah Project: L’Dor Vador, which incorporates every member of the Temple. Each individual and family will have the opportunity to join a scribe in writing the words of a new Sefer Torah for the congregation,  with soferet Linda Coppleson.

The celebration begins in the Social Hall with a breakfast featuring a Q&A with Assistant Rabbi Marc Katz and the Soferet. The 150th Anniversary and Sefer Torah Opening Ceremony follows, where members will write the first words of the new Sefer Torah.

RSVP are required for the 9 a.m. breakfast through the temple’s website.

After the ceremony join our annual Sukkot Block Party with a bouncy house, food trucks, fire truck, kids’ activities and social action fair.

In the midst of a proliferation of mid-19th century synagogues being established, Congregation Beth Elohim was founded between September 1861-March 30, 1862 when a group of 41 Jewish men of German origin convened to create “a new community in line with their Central European background and particular practice of Judaism,” according to an online history of this congregation. In February, 1862, Congregation Beth Elohim was legally incorporated, and Rabbi George Brandenstein was hired at $150 per year. A month later, the congregation purchased the former Calvary Baptist Church building at Pearl and Concord streets, near the site of present day Concord Village.


Book Club explores C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters

The writings of C.S. Lewis have endured as classic Christian literature. The St. Ann’s Book of the Month Club will be exploring Lewis’ satirical Christian novel, The Screwtape Letters at its next meeting on Thursday, October 11.

First published in book form in 1942, The Screwtape Letters comprises 31 letters written by a senior devil, Screwtape, to his obstreperous and incompetent nephew, Wormwood, a “young fiend.” The subject of the correspondence is a human being, newly converted to Christianity, whom Screwtape refers to as “the patient.” In this humorous and perceptive exchange between two devils, C. S. Lewis delves into moral questions about good vs. evil, temptation, repentance, and grace. Through this tale, the reader emerges with a better understanding of what it means to live a faithful life.

The book club convenes at 6:45 p.m. St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Parish Hall entrance is at 157 Montague St.


Church presents Health & Wellness Fair

Queen of All Saints Church in Fort Greene hosts its 5th Annual Health and Wellness Fair: on Sat, Oct 6 from Noon until  4 p.m. Take advantage of the opportunity to speak with health professionals and service providers. Address: 300 Vanderbilt Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11205. Call 718-638-7625 or email [email protected] for more information.


Brooklyn-based heritage ensemble returns to Heights library

Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble returns to the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library for a second year with a free, multi-cultural, audience-interactive musical performance, October 20.

Downtown Brooklyn resident Eugene Marlow is a musician, composer/arranger and leader of The Heritage Ensemble. He has spent the last 30 years exploring the melodic and rhythmic commonalities among Jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and Judaic musical cultures, in the process creating the group’s unique brand of world music arrangements and infectious danceable rhythms.

This free interactive live musical performance will also include a discussion of the world rhythms underlying The Heritage Ensemble’s arrangements which directly reflect the multi-cultural community of Marlow’s Downtown Brooklyn neighborhood.   “The underlying purpose is to explore the commonalities among the various cultures from which all these musical cultures are inherited. This is part of the reason the word ‘heritage’ is in the ensemble’s name,” says Marlow.

In addition to Marlow’s inventive arrangements and lively presence at the piano, this highly talented ensemble includes five-time Grammy nominee drummer Bobby Sanabria, NEA Performance grantee saxophonist Michael Hashim, Nuyorican virtuoso percussionist Oba Allende, and the powerful yet poignant bassist Frank Wagner.

The program, on Saturday, October 20 at 2 p.m., is made possible through generous underwriting support from local businesses, including: Park Plaza Diner, All in One Deli, Concord Cleaners, and Piano Technician Peter Favant, among others.


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