Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Oct. 7

October 7, 2014 By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This group of children enjoyed last year’s Sukkot at Luna Park.
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Luna Park Set to Host Large Sukkot Spectacle

Jews around Brooklyn find innovative, fun ways of celebrating the joyful festivals. This year, Brooklyn’s famous amusement park at Coney Island will be transformed into a Sukkot Spectacle.

Sukkot is the festival of booths. Taking place in autumn, Sukkot celebrates trust in God and the gathering of community. Luna Park in Coney Island is preparing to host a Sukkot Spectacle for one of the most joyous holidays in the Jewish religion.

Sukkot begins at sundown on Wednesday, Oct. 8, and lasts until Oct. 15. From Oct. 12 to 14, Luna Park will be transformed into a Sukkot Spectacle, complete with rides and games for the entire family, and will include a huge Sukkah, featuring kosher food from HMS Glatt Kosher Caterers.

Luna Park is home to the newest roller coaster to be built in Coney Island, the Thunderbolt, as well as the historic Cyclone roller coaster, which celebrated its 87th anniversary this year. In addition, the park features more than 50 attractions that cater to every age level — from the classic Wild Tea Party to the new pendulum-swinging Luna 360.

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Brooklyn Tabernacle Joins in Launch Of NYC CityServe Outreach Ministry

Hundreds of church and nonprofit leaders from Brooklyn and around New York City are collaborating in a historic effort to love and serve New York City in the name of Christ as part of NY CityServe and CityFest, an initiative organized by the Luis Palau Association.

Approximately 1,000 leaders representing the faith, business and marketplace sectors recently launched NY CityServe and CityFest at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan.

Among the Brooklyn churches participating were The Brooklyn Tabernacle (17 Smith St. in Downtown Brooklyn) and the Christian Cultural Center (12020 Flatlands Ave. in East New York).

Multiple speakers explained the twofold vision behind NY CityServe and CityFest: first, to identify, develop and nurture church-connected, neighborhood-focused collaborations throughout New York City, focusing on justice, mercy and education; and second, to help churches saturate their neighborhoods with the Good News of Jesus Christ through regional outreaches and evangelistic gatherings, culminating in a multicultural, evangelistic outreach with Luis Palau in the summer of 2015.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sent a video greeting to the gathering.

“By uniting the faith community with nonprofits, businesses and government in the spirit of service, NY CityServe can play a transformative role in so many lives,” Mayor de Blasio said. “I welcome your efforts to inspire even more New Yorkers to greatness and look forward to building a city where we can all rise together.”

The launch included presentations from Rev. A.R. Bernard, Christian Cultural Center; Jim Cymbala, The Brooklyn Tabernacle; Bishop Hector Bonano, CONLICO; Kittim Silva Bermudez, Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ of Queens; Robert Guerrero, Redeemer City to City; Mac Pier, New York City Leadership Center; Rev. Que English, New York City Clergy Roundtable; Rev. Gabriel Salguero, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Floyd Flake, Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral; and Kevin Palau, Luis Palau Association. Grammy award-winning artist Bishop Hezekiah Walker also performed.

More information about NY CityServe and CityFest can be found at To learn more about how churches and nonprofit organizations are working together to serve the city, visit

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Rabbi Joseph Potasnik Receives Humanitarian Award

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik received the Jan Karski Humanitarian Award during a recent ceremony at the Consulate General of Poland in New York. Now rabbi emeritus at Congregation Mount Sinai, at which he has served for more than four decades, Potasnik is also the longtime executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis and a Fire Department chaplain. Potasnik is credited worldwide for having spent decades promoting Jewish outreach to religious and ethnic groups in order to promote mutual understanding and amity.

According to an announcement from the New York Board of Rabbis, “The Jan Karski Humanitarian Award is presented to individuals who show grace and bravery under mounting pressure of bureaucratic inertia, totalitarian fiats, or public indifference to those less fortunate withstanding cultural and/or physical debasement.”

These are considered to be some of the biggest obstacles to helping those most in need.

Jewish Forward columnist Masha Leon wrote in a recent “On the Go” column that “The Jan Karski award is named in honor of a Polish patriot, a Catholic, and hero of the Polish Resistance, who brought news to the West of the destruction of Eastern European Jewry who had been secretly smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto by a Zionist and a Bundist to be an eyewitness to the destruction. He is recognized at Yad Vashem as ‘Righteous Among Nations.’”

The award was also presented posthumously to Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. In 2007, the year before her death in Warsaw, Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Peres and the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński.

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Harpsichordist Lucille Gruber Returns to Plymouth Church

Brooklyn Heights-based American harpsichordist Lucille Gruber will perform in concert at Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, returning here following a concert tour in France.

Gruber presented an enthusiastically received recital last fall at Plymouth Church and returns by popular demand. Her program at the Sunday, Oct. 19 concert includes works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Jacques Duphly, Jean Philippe Rameau, Domenico Scarlatti and Padre Antonio Soler.

Gruber just returned to Brooklyn Heights from France, where she performed three concerts in historic churches in the Haute Savoie and the Auvergne.

The New York Times has acclaimed Gruber for her “sensitive and technically impeccable performances.”

Gruber’s programs are creative and varied, so as to capture the interest of the listener in the harpsichord and its repertoire. Her spoken program notes, as entertaining as they are insightful, highlight the historical context of the music and bring the listener into the world of the composer.

Lucille Gruber began her music studies at the Third Street Music Settlement in New York City, later attending the High School of Music and Art. She studied composition and music at Brandeis University (Boston) and theory with Harold Shapero, Arthur Berger and Leonard Bernstein. She holds a bachelor of arts and master’s degree in music composition.

It was Gruber’s interest in improvisation that attracted her to the harpsichord and a new graduate program in baroque performance practice at Case Western Reserve University, where she earned a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Case Western University has, for many decades, offered a joint graduate degree program in early music performance practices (now named historic performance practice program).

A year abroad with her family made it possible for Gruber to study with the renowned harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt in the Netherlands and to perform throughout France. On her return to the U.S., she made her New York debut at Alice Tully Hall and subsequently performed at Carnegie Recital Hall (Weill), where she was acknowledged by the New York Times as “a musician who commands both her instrument and its repertory.”

The Times review of a second recital at Weill Recital Hall two years later praised her “fire, spontaneity and ebullient wit.”

Gruber is a longstanding volunteer for the Brooklyn Promenade Conservancy and, with her baking skills, helped to launch a semi-annual bake sale to benefit the Conservancy.

Tickets for the Oct. 19 concert, which begins at 4 p.m., will be available at the door. General admission is $15; students and seniors pay $10.  Plymouth Church is on Orange Street, between Henry and Hicks streets, in Brooklyn Heights.

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St. Ann’s Church Set to Welcome New Interim Music Director

Michael Chad Levitt has been appointed as interim director of music at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, starting Nov. 2. The Rev. John Denaro, rector of St. Ann’s, made the announcement in the parish’s weekly e-newsletter, titled “The Messenger,” on Oct. 2.

As interim director of music, Levitt’s chief responsibility will be to serve as organist for the 11:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist on Sundays.  

Levitt began his musical studies at age 15 as a private student of Boyd Jones, professor of organ at Stetson University. Levitt holds a B.A. (2007) in music from Rollins College (Winter Park, Fla.).

As an undergraduate, he was appointed as student-faculty at Valencia Community College (Orlando, Fla.) and directed both choral and instrumental ensembles there. He served on the executive board of the Central Florida chapter of the American Guild of Organists from 2004 to 2007. He holds a master of music degree in performance at the Manhattan School of Music.

He has performed at such venues as Saint-Croix de Bordeaux and Notre Dame de Epernay in France, Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Times Square and Central Synagogue in New York City, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church) in Boston, Mass. He is also frequently in demand as a singer and has toured throughout the U.S. with many professional choral ensembles. Levitt currently lives in the New York City, where he teaches and performs.

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Bible Study Examines New Testament Epistles

The earliest Common Era Christians (dating back to the 1st Century), forming new faith communities around Rome, Greece and the ancient Near East, received letters from some of the earliest apostles, encouraging them in their faith and chastising and guiding them whenever inevitable interpersonal conflicts arose. These letters were later compiled into the canonical books of the New Testament and were called Epistles (the word originating from both Latin and Greek).

Sunday morning Bible study takes place again this week as Associate for Parish Life Matt Leaycraft leads a series called “Letters to the Early Church: The Epistles of James, Peter and John.” The class will continue to ponder these Epistles on Sundays, Oct. 12, 19 and 26, following the 11:15 a.m. Holy Eucharist. The series began on Sunday, Oct. 5. St. Ann’s is at Clinton and Montague streets in Brooklyn Heights. 
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Brooklyn Reads: Blurbs about books grounded in faith and borough

Tablet Diocesan Newspaper Reviews Vincent Manago’s ‘The Third Attic’

Readers who came of age in Brooklyn may be interested in Vincent Manago’s new book “The Third Attic and Other Brooklyn Stories.” Ed Wilkinson, editor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn’s newspaper, The Tablet, reviewed “The Third Attic and Other Brooklyn Stories” in this week’s edition.

Manago, a graduate of Bishop Loughlin High School in Fort Greene, centers the book about life in St. Lucy’s Church on Kent Avenue. One of the highlights is the story of how a Jewish couple helped build St. Lucy’s Church. He points out also that Bishop Francis J. Mugavero, who led the diocese from 1968 until his retirement in 1990, was baptized at St. Lucy’s. (Bishop Mugavero died in July 1991, according to an obituary published in the New York Times.) Now retired from a successful career in finance as a CPA, Manago lives further out on Long Island and is active at his parish,


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