Brooklyn Religion Briefs

January 15, 2013 By Francesca Norsen-Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Forum Addresses ‘New Jim Crow’ Imprisonments

The imprisonment of young men of color is the topic of a Community Forum next week at First Unitarian Church.

First Unitarian Church’s Weaving the Fabric of Diversity Committee of Fist Unitarian Church of Brooklyn joins forces with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Harlem to present “THE NEW JIM CROW: The mass incarceration of young men of color.”

This forum, open to the community, will discuss the reality of this justice crisis  in today’s society, and the social consequences for the country as a whole, based on issues raised in Michelle Alexander’s best-selling book of the same title.

Presenters will be
New York State Senator Eric Adams, Chris Johnson, head of Horizons Leadership Project; Glenn E. Martin, VP of Development and Public Affairs of The Fortune Society, a non-profit organization devoted to the successful reentry and reintegration of individuals with criminal histories; and Jason Meyers, adjunct professor of writing at William Patterson University and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Prior to his election to the State Senate, Adams served as a police officer in the
New York City Police Department for 22 years, during which time he co-founded 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, an advocacy group for black police officers, and he often spoke out against police brutality and racial profiling.

As head of the Horizons Leadership Project, Chris Johnson works with youth at risk. He is a former coordinator of the New York Religious Coalition Against Police Brutality through the New York Civil Liberties Union.

A parishioner at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Harlem
will also give testimony about personal experience with these issues.

Moderating the forum is
Alex Wolf, a member of First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, and Instructor of Biology at Bronx Community College.
Attendees will be given an opportunity for questions after the speakers’ presentations. The First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn, a Unitarian Universalist

The forum takes place on Saturday, January 19, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. in the Chapel of First Unitarian Church (Enter to the right of the main sanctuary building’s front steps. Admission is free.


The Abolitionists Series Airs On PBS’ American Experience

Many readers may have viewed the first episode of new PBS American Experience series, The Abolitionists, which began this past week. This three-part documentary (with re-enactments) follows the path of five abolitionist allies—Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown and Angelina Grimké—as they turn a despised fringe movement against chattel slavery into a force that changes the nation.

A featured player is Harriet Beecher Stowe, sister of the famed Plymouth Church founder Henry Ward Beecher. Stowe, the author of the controversial but enlightening book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, earned fame of her own. The PBS series offers a skillful portrayal of the fight against slavery and the world of pre-Civil War America.

Those who missed the first episode will have other chances to view it Part 1 of “The Abolitionists” repeats on WNET/Channel 13 this Sunday, January 13 at 10 p.m., with additional broadcasts on Channel 13 and WLIW/Channel 21 this week. The episodes can also be viewed on The Abolitionists web page, which also contains a variety of resources, including a Teacher’s Guide. A link to the interactive map is included.

Parts 2 and 3 of The Abolitionists  air the next two Tuesdays, Jan. 15 and 22, at 9 p.m.


Forum Explores Changes In American Judaism

Congregation Beth Elohim and the newspaper Jewish Week present a forum that will examine changes in American Judaism over the past several decades and discuss the evolving landscape.

Guest speakers are
Rabbi Rick Jacobs (president of the Union for Reform Judaism), Joy Levitt (executive director at The JCC in Manhattan) and Asher Lopatin (Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago and incoming head of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah) They will also examine the questions: “What is the future of our movement structure? What unites and divides the diversity of practice and ideology of American Jewry.” Moderator will be Congregation Beth Elohim’s Senior Rabbi Andy Bachman.

The forum takes place at Beth Elohim next Thursday, January 17 at 7:30. Those wishing to attend are advised to reserve tickets—which are free—in advance, to book seats and facilitate quick entry. Enter at 274 Garfield Place (near 8
th Ave.) in Park Slope.

The event’s co-sponsors include, as of press time:
Altshul, Brooklyn Jews, Temple Beth Emeth v’Ohr Progressive Shaari Zedek, Kolot Chayeinu, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Prospect Heights Shul, Union Temple, and the Bay Ridge Jewish Center.


Discussion and Film Series Explore Growth of Zionism and Israel

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue presents two companion series—one with films— on Israel and Zionism.

Rabbi Molly Kane leads the first series, on Sunday afternoons and in two parts, is titled Zionism: Old & New Paradigms. Participants will engage with Zionist thought from the past and the present as a kickoff to the Israel film series offered later this winter titled Israel Talking @ the Movies. Previous Israel education or movie participation is not required.

Curious about how Theodor Herzl’s dream of a Jewish state still influences Israeli society today? Wondering about new Zionist thought and whether it addresses the current state of affairs?

The first program, on Sunday, January 27, is titled: Old Paradigms: An exploration of Classic Zionist Thought. The content will include an overview of the Jewish community in late 19th century Russia, including the pogroms (violent, destructive demonstrations against Jews); and the thinkers and writers of Zionism, from Leo Pinsker through the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

The second program,
Zionism: New Paradigms, taking place on February 3, will provide an exploration of Modern Zionist Thought, examine the dynamics of the vibrant Jewish communities in Israel, in the United States and around the world; the writings of modern scholar Noam Pianko and other modern Zionist thinkers Participants will discuss questions such as: “How do their thoughts shape our views of the current state of affairs in Israel and of Jewish life today both here and abroad? How have their thoughts departed from the old paradigms and how have they stayed the same?

Both discussions will run from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and will include a light lunch. RSVP is mandatory via
[email protected]. The program is free to members of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. The cost for non-members is a nominal $5 per session. For more information on Israel programming at BHS including Israel Talking @ the Movies please visit

The second component focuses on Jewish identity in Israeli films.
Israeli cinema is receiving international recognition.  Participants will discuss how the Jewish challenges of identity, diversity, and responsibility are reflected in its cinematography. Isaac Zablocki, executive Director of the OTHER ISRAEL FILM FESTIVAL, will facilitate each of the four discussions that follow the screenings.

Israel Talking @ the Movies has four segments: Thursday, February 28, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, March 3, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; Thursday, March 14, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 17, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The cost for BHS members is $5 for each film, $20 for series; and for non-members: $10 for each film, $30 for series.  RSVP is needed: via  
[email protected].


Progressive Temple in Borough Park Celebrates New Year of the Trees

Progressive Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom in Borough Park invites all to celebrate Tu B’Shvat-The New Year of the Trees in Judaism, at a special worship on Saturday, January 26.

The celebration begins with worship at 10:30 a.m. followed by a Tu B’Shvat seder (which often includes nuts and fruits from trees) starting at 12:30.
Cantor Suzanne Bernstein leads the service and seder. Reservations are required by next Friday, Jan. 18; call the Temple at 718-436-5082. Progressive Temple Beth Ahavath Sholom is at 1515 46 Street.


Religion Newsmakers

Libbie Schrader, a member of the Rosary group at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope, has written an article about Mary Magdalene—a main figure in the Gospels—which has been submitted to the Anglican Theological Journal. She will give a PowerPoint presentation of her paper at a special program on Saturday, January 19 following the 5 p.m. Mass and Pot Luck Supper. The community is invited to attend. The church is at 139 St. John’s Place, west of 7th Ave.

During February, The Beijing Circle will sponsor a discussion group on the book
Radical Welcome by the Rev. Stephanie Sellers, the new diocesan canon for missional vitality for the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, of which Brooklyn is a part. Mother Sellers was a keynote speaker at the Diocesan Women’s Conference in Garden City last October.

Danish Seamen’s Church Marks 56 Years at Willow St. Brownstone

The Danish Seamen’s Church, which today serves Danes living and working in all industries around the New York region, held its inaugural service at its current home on 102 Willow Street on January 13, 1957, some 56 years ago this weekend. The building, a brownstone with an entrance that was refurbished within the past five years, was also dedicated on that date. A close look at the photo will reveal the building number and the words Dansk Sømandskirke. One can also see the bell displayed in the front yard at street level.

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