Brooklyn Religion Briefs for May 29
Maronite Cathedral Hosts 6th Annual ‘Celebrate the Flavors of Lebanon’
Last year, Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral’s annual Lebanese Festival hosted well over ten thousand visitors from all cultures and areas in a five state region. This weekend marks the sixth annual “Celebrate The Flavors of Lebanon” festival, offering exquisite Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, with the Cathedral parishioners cooking many of the entrees and other goodies. Featured are tabbouleh, kibbeh, manoushi breads, a wide array of delectable treats and desserts.
Cuisine is only one part of the Lebanese Festival, though. Fairgoers can listen to Middle Eastern music and marvel at the Cathedral’s folkloric dance troupe. Don’t be surprised if they bring you to your feet. Middle Eastern hospitality often includes the invitation to dance!
Other attractions include a live band, spinning DJ’s, rides, games and competitions and raffles. The Mega Raffle prize is a 2013 Hyundai Sonata.
The Lebanese Festival begins at noon on Friday, May 31. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. on May 31 and Saturday, June 1; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 2. Everyone is invited to share in the joy of Lebanese heritage.
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Synagogues Present Musical Tribute To World-Renowned Lubavitcher Rebbe
Chabad in Brooklyn, Congregation B’nai Avraham and Congregation B’nai Jacob present a one-of-kind Musical Tribute to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe was Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty. According to the movement’s website, Chabad.org, Rabbi Schneerson “is considered to have been the most phenomenal Jewish personality of modern times. To hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of sympathizers and admirers around the world, he was—and still is, despite his passing—“ ‘the Rebbe,’ undoubtedly, the one individual more than any other singularly responsible for stirring the conscience and spiritual awakening of world Jewry.” In some Jewish circles, though, he was widely controversial, in large part because of his discerned mission to usher in the messianic age.
According to Jewish Virtual Library (with material from Rabbi Schneerson’s June 13, 1994 New York Times obit), he was born April 18, 1902 (11 Nissan, 5662 in the Hebrew calendar) in Nikolayev, a town in the southern Ukraine. His father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchock Schneerson, was a renowned scholar. His mother, Rebbitzen Chana Schneerson, was born into a prestigious rabbinic family. His two younger siblings were Dovber and Yisroel aryeh Leib.
Menachem Mendel Schneerson displayed prodigious mental acuity as a young child, and was privately tutored. By the time that he became a bar mitzvah (son of the Commandment, around age 13), young Menachem Mendel was considered a Torah prodigy. As a teen, he delved into the intricacies of Torah study. His 1923 meeting with Rabbi Yosef Yitzchock Schneerson—at that time the Lubavitcher Rebbe—set the course for young Menachem Mendel’s life. Mentoring him, Rabbi Yosef Schneerson brought the young prodigy into his inner circle. Five years later, in Warsaw, Menachem Mendel married the Rebbe’s second eldest daughter, Chaya Mushka (1901-1988).
The young couple moved to Berlin, where Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson was studying mathematics and science. To escape the growing Nazi threat, he and his wife moved to Paris, where he resumed his studies at the Sorbonne. The Nazi occupation of Paris sent the Schneersons fleeing Europe; they arrived in New York, where Menachem Mendel had a job waiting—his father in law appointed him head of Lubavitch’s educational branch, social-service organization and publications.
During the next 44 years of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s leadership, Lubavitch grew from a small movement that had been nearly destroyed by the Holocaust to a worldwide community of 200,000 members, and more than 1,400 Chabad-Lubavitch institutions in 35 countries on six continents (excepting Antarctica). He was known for his widespread humanitarian aid, reaching out to all people, regardless of their cultural and religious backgrounds.
Chabad.org recalls that Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson had “an uncanny ability to meet everyone at their own level — he advised Heads of State on matters of national and international importance, explored with professionals the complexities in their own fields of expertise, and spoke to small children with warm words and a fatherly smile.”
Likewise, a tribute on Ohel’s website, credits him with the gift of recognizing the sacred in each person. “Anyone who had the good fortune to meet the Rebbe during his lifetime can relate the unparalleled attention and love that he offered each individual, regardless of background, situation or degree of religious involvement. Whether they came for blessing, advice, or encouragement, men and women from all walks of life found solace in the Rebbe’s kind words and luminous visage. Anyone who stood in his presence—even for a moment—could not leave without being deeply affected, if not changed by their encounter, an extraordinary experience that people carry with them to this day.”
(The term Ohel—literally, “tent”—refers to the structure built over the resting place of a Tzaddik, a righteous person.)
Allan Nadler, in an article published in the June 11, 2010 edition of the Jewish Forward, wrote: “The powerful psychological and spiritual processes that took place within Schneerson’s psyche over the next decade — not least the trauma of the Holocaust — transformed him from an aspiring Parisian engineer to the most famous, influential and controversial Hasidic rebbe in Jewish history, one who became possessed of the belief that he would usher in the messianic age.”
The Rebbe suffered a stroke while praying at his father-in-law’s grave in March, 1992, and died on June 12, 1994 (3rd day of Tammuz, 5754). Shortly afterwards, Rep. (now U.S. Senator) Charles Schumer and colleagues in Congress introduced a bill to honor the Rebbe’s memory with the Congressional Gold Medal. Both the House and Senate approved the bill unanimously, honoring Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson for his “outstanding and lasting contributions toward improvements in world education, morality, and acts of charity.”
The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s memory will be honored again just before his Yahrzeit on 3 Tammuz. The Musical tribute, on Sunday, June 9 (the turnover 1-2 Tammuz) features original vignettes that invite the listeners to an exquisitely soulful journey with illuminations from the Rebbe’s teaching and examples, with Rabbi Ruvi New of Boca Raton, FL. The tribute is hosted at Congregation B’nai Jacob, 401 Ninth St. in Park Slope, and begins with a 6 p.m. dinner. The program follows at 7 p.m.
Co-sponsors for this program include: Chabad in Brooklyn Heights, Clinton Hill-Fort Greene, Park Slope, Pratt University, Prospect Heights W, and Windsor Terrace. Additional sponsors are welcome: donor levels are $100 / $180 / $360. The suggestion donation for general admission is $10/person. RSVP by Wednesday, June 5 via email to [email protected]
Rabbi Aaron Raskin, spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Avraham, is also teaching a series on the Chassidic Philosophy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Wednesday nights from 8 to 9 p.m., at his synagogue in Brooklyn Heights.
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WarehouseNYC Outreach to Younger Jews Features Shabbat with New Styles of Worship
As one community of Jews recalls the legacy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, another generation is creating news ways to celebrate Shabbat.
TheWarehouseNYC, the Josh Nelson Project and Brooklyn Jews welcome all to engage in a new form of Shabbat worship—starting with appetizers and beverages.
This Friday, the Brooklyn Lyceum (227 4th Avenue, NE corner of 4th Ave. & President St.) will be the scene for a 7:15 Pre-Shabbat Schmooze (appetizers, wine and beer), and an 8 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat service. The experience is geared for New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s, and is also conceived as a point of reentry for under-served & unaffiliated Jews in major metropolitan areas in North America.
According to its Facebook page, WarehouseNYC defines itself as a religious organization and offers “a fresh model of contemporary worship, a groundbreaking experience held in an unconventional physical space, utilizing innovative music & new media. By creating a worship event that meets the aesthetic, cultural, & spiritual needs of this demographic, The Warehouse offers an opportunity for reengagement that feels organic, inspired, & relevant.” Josh Nelson and Rabbi Leora Kaye will be leading the service. Central Synagogue provides generous support.
Interested readers can learn more through the WarehouseNYC’s website: http://www.thewarehousenyc.org/, and for those on Facebook, their page titled The Warehouse NYC.
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Class of 17 Ordained to Diaconate Reflects Brooklyn’s Ethnic Diversity
Seventeen men were ordained to the diaconate for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn last Saturday, May 25.
Auxiliary Bishop Frank Caggiano, Vicar General of the Diocese of Brooklyn, presided at the ordination liturgy, hosted at Our Lady of Angels Church in Bay Ridge.
The new deacons underwent a multi-year discernment program to test whether their calling to the diaconate was authentic. They then completed their theological studies in preparation for ordination. The deacons and will serve the Church at parishes in Brooklyn and Queens by proclaiming the Gospel, assisting at Mass, and serving in the wider community to foster, justice, charity and peace, according to the diocese’s web page on vocations and diaconal formation. Men discerning their Christian vocation in the diaconate either become permanent or transitional deacons. Transitional deacons have already undergone the rigorous requirements to become Roman Catholic priests and must be unmarried, celibate men. By contrast, permanent deacons can be single or married, provided that he got married at least five years before starting the vocation process, and that the marriage is solid. Wives are required to be an active part of their husbands’ discernment process, as diaconal service impacts one’s entire family. Permanent deacons also hold down secular jobs.
The role of deacon dates back to 1st-century Christianity, and is recorded in the Christian New Testament, particularly the Acts of the Apostles. Church history indicates that the role of deacon was not always prominent. Pope Paul VI in 1967 reinstituted a liturgy for ordaining permanent deacons.
Writing before the ordination liturgy, Diocesan Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio remarked, “I am profoundly grateful to the 17 men who will be ordained on Saturday. “Their generosity and that of their wives and children is a wonderful expression of the vitality and new life present in our diocese. I wish I had the opportunity to be there with you, but I was called to Rome to meetings.”
The 17 newly-ordained deacons come from various backgrounds. Most are from Brooklyn and Queens, but almost a dozen are foreign-born, reflecting the diversity of the “Diocese of Immigrants.” Their native lands include the nations of Colombia and Ecuador in South America; El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in Central America; and Puerto Rico, which is an United States territory in the Caribbean.
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City at Large
Fordham University Offers Scholarships For Latinos Wishing to Explore the Ministry
Fordham University’s Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education offers a new scholarship supporting Latino/Hispanic members of the community who are interested in various aspects of ministry, counseling or spirituality.
According to an announcement in the St. Charles Borromeo Church Sunday bulletin, The Frs. Vincent and Joseph Novak Scholars program will provide two full scholarships per academic year to students of Latino background. Fordham would allow students to seek degrees or certificates in the many areas of its curriculum: Doctor of Ministry; Master of Arts in Pastoral Care, Master of Arts in Religious Education; Certificates in Spiritual Direction, Faith Formation
Readers wanting more information may visit the university’s website at fordham.edu/academics.
Fordham University is a Jesuit-run school. St. Ignatius of Loyola, a Spanish knight founded the Society of Jesus—the Jesuits—in the midst of the Reformation and the turmoil it brought. He was a leader of the Counter-Reformation. Pope Francis I, who was elevated in March, 2013, is a Jesuit.
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Barn Dance Benefit Celebrates Space Actively Used in Landmark Parish’s Life
St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church invites the whole community to kick up its heels at a Barn Dance and FUN-raiser next weekend.
The Barn Dance in the church’s Parish Hall is geared to offer family fun. Caller Dave Harvey of New York City Barn Dance will inspire everyone from the most expert to novice dancers.
Funds raised will benefit St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and Episcopal Charities of Long Island.
The Rev. John Denaro, the parish’s Priest-in-Charge, noted that this coming fall, the Parish Hall and the building above it will be closed for long-overdue renovation. “We want to make use of the Parish Hall while we can,” Fr. Denaro said. “The Barn Dance is an opportunity to celebrate this space, which, along with our sanctuary, has been hallowed ground for worship, performance, protest and play over the generations. We hope everyone who likes to dance or wants to try will join us.”
The Barn Dance and FUN-Raiser runs from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 9. Tickets will be sold the day of the event and are $50 per person or couple with children. Burgers, dogs and soda are included. Beer will be for sale.
For more information of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church and its ministries, readers may visit www.stannholytrinity.org.
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Plymouth Church Joins Oklahoma Tornado Relief Effort
Starting last Sunday, Plymouth Church is collecting a Special Offering for Oklahoma Tornado Relief.
Funds will be sent to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO), who had disaster relief teams on the scene from the beginning. With 30 percent of Oklahomans being Baptist and the Oklahoma Baptist University nearby, BGCO has the resources and the manpower to serve those in need. Here in Brooklyn, Plymouth’s Christian Help Committee has already sent $5,000 from its disaster relief funds for these efforts.
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Fr. Powers Retires After 26 Years As Rector Of St. John’s-Park Slope
St. John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope will bid farewell to the Rev. Clark Powers, who retires after 26 years as rector of this parish.
The service of Thanksgiving for the 26 Years of Shared Ministry will take place this Sunday, June 2 at a 4 p.m. Gala Evensong. The liturgy has been scheduled for the afternoon so that Fr. Powers’ clergy colleagues and friends. (Many of the clergy have Sunday morning services to lead at their own congregations.)
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Former Interim Pastor, Dr. Cari Jackson Returns to Heights for Her Book-Signing
Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt is a new book The Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson, formerly an interim pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn.
She will return for a discussion and book signing on Thursday, June 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. Dr. Jackson writes, “Often, without realizing it, we can become attached to our loved ones, jobs, reputations, income, homes, or other things in our lives to give us a sense of safety and specialness. When we do, we can have strong emotional knee-jerk reactions if it appears that these things or people will change or end. Explore how to recognize and let go of your own knee-jerk reactions to experience greater joy and peace in your life.”