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Faith In Brooklyn for Nov. 12

November 12, 2014 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Rabbi Aaron Raskin is pictured at an event that took place earlier this year. Eagle Photo © 2014 by Francesca Norsen Tate
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New Jewish Day School Preparing to Open in Brooklyn Heights

Torah-Centered Program Builds on Success of Kiddie Korner Preschool

Brooklyn Heights Jewish Academy (BHJA), a new, Brooklyn-based co-educational Jewish day school, will open its doors in September 2015. Building on the success of the Gan Menachem Kiddie Korner Preschool in Brooklyn Heights, BHJA will offer a comprehensive Jewish and general studies curriculum, supported by extracurricular activities, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to become lifelong learners.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Under the auspices of Chabad Lubavitch of Brooklyn Heights, BHJA will be the neighborhood’s first Hebrew day school.

“Now is an opportune time for a K-12 Jewish day school to grace the streets of Brooklyn Heights,” said Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, the school’s executive director. “Investing in Jewish education ensures a Jewish future; we need to inspire the Jewish youth of today towards a committed Jewish life.”

The school’s curriculum holds this at the forefront and takes a holistic, integrated Torah perspective, in which secular units, such as math and science, are taught alongside Torah themes and content to create a wholesome and unified worldview. The academy’s objective is to equip students with the academic and life skills needed to confidently take their place in society, while, at the same time, instilling pride in their Jewish identity and a strong sense of purpose.

“BHJA will focus on the growth of the whole child, catering to the needs and abilities of each child. Teaching strategies will be employed to accommodate students’ individual needs, rates of development and learning styles,” Rabbi Raskin said, offering an assurance that “class sizes will be kept small, in order to reach a low student-teacher ratio and provide a more child-centered and personalized education.”

Enrollment is currently open for students at kindergarten level, with classes to grow with the students as the years progress. For further information, visit, or call 718-596-4840 x18.

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Maronite Eparchy’s Dinner Honors Claire Habib for More Than 60 Years of Service

By Salma Vahdat, Parishioner, Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral

Maronites and friends “took” Manhattan recently in what has become an annual event to support the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn.

The Eparchy (counterpart to the Latin-Rite diocese) administrates the forty four parishes it encompasses, as well as the seminary in Washington, D.C., retirement pension for our priests, support for the mission communities and critically needed renovation to Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral, the seat of the Eparchy, here in Downtown Brooklyn.

Chorbishop Michael Thomas, reading the story from Luke’s Gospel of Jesus’ visit to Martha and Mary, then turned his attention to the night’s honoree, Claire Habib.

He said, “Claire, you heard the words of the Lord, like Mary, and worked hard like Martha.”

Habib, beloved by many, has labored with love in return to the cathedral parish and to the extended Maronite community for more than 65 years. Following her college years, she volunteered and was involved in every parish event and special occasion: bazaars, street fairs, card parties, banquets, ordinations and patriarchal visits. She has been and is a member of the Parish Council and, in 2007, she was appointed a trustee of the cathedral. Habib’s business acumen also landed her the task of preparing the cathedral’s annual financial report for submission to the Eparchy from 1990 to 2007. She currently serves on the Finance Council for the Eparchy of St. Maron.

Habib has been and continues to be a source of inspiration and energy to the cathedral community. We thank her for her spirit of stewardship, her honoring of her heritage and her incredible years of unselfish service.

Bishop Gregory Mansour presented Habib with a rendering of an original architectural sketch of the cathedral she has served so well, as it appeared in 1846, when it was completed as the Church of the Pilgrims. The benediction was offered by the Rev. Dany Abi Akar, administrator of the Maronite Mission of Manhattan and pastor of St. Pope Paul II Church in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

We were honored by the attendance of so many distinguished guests. Among them were Archbishop Benedetto Auza, Holy See observer to the United Nations; Caroline Ziade, counsellor deputy permanent representative of Lebanon to the United Nations; the Honorable and Mrs. Majdi Ramadan, consul general of Lebanon in N.Y.; Bishop Gregory Mansour, bishop of the Eparchy of St. Maron; Msgr. James Root, rector, Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral; Sr. Marla Marie Lucas, founder, Maronite Servants of Christ the Light; Roseanne Solomon, president, Order of St. Sharbel; Rev. Geoffrey Abdullah, rector, Our Lady of Lebanon Seminary, Washington, D.C.; and members of CNEWA,WLCU, Knights of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, NAM and various members of the clergy.

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Acclaimed Organist/Composer Thierry Escaich Performs at Our Lady of Refuge Church

The Salvatones Choir Will Sing Some of the Improvisations

Our Lady of Refuge Church’s famed concert series brings in acclaimed organist Thierry Escaich, in what will be his only New York appearance this month.

The Nov. 21 concert will feature composed music and improvisation with a choir. It will also showcase the Midwood church’s Kilgen pipe organ, which was restored by A.R. Schopp’s Sons and Quimby Pipe Organs and dedicated last year. The restoration was all the more remarkable because it was largely funded through an online appeal using social media.

Escaich will play works by César Franck, Maurice Duruflé and Charles Tournemire and will improvise four pieces in specific musical forms based on submitted themes. Escaich’s image will be projected on a 10-foot screen, so that all in attendance can watch him perform.

The New York-based professional vocal ensemble The Salvatones, directed by Daniel Brondel, will sing themes on which Escaich will improvise — with styles ranging from plain chant to 20th-Century works.

The Nov. 21 concert marks Escaich’s only concert appearance in New York City this fall. Escaich has been lauded in Le Monde, Gramophone, Guardian and many other mainstream media publications. The French magazine L’Express, in an article titled “Les nouveaux génies français,” called Escaich “Prince de l’harmonie.”

Escaich has been honored with commissions to compose works for The New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris and the New York City Ballet, among others.

When Our Lady of Refuge reached out to people who love organ music to help pay for the church’s organ restoration, they said the instrument would be used to enrich the cultural lives of people of the city. With each concert since the organ’s re-inauguration, the audience has grown. A recent silent film program, with organ accompaniment, generated a nearly full house. Come experience the sound of the restored pipe organ, of which Michael Barone, host of the nationally syndicated radio program “Pipedreams,” said, “[it] .. is quite extraordinary and its restoration revealed a surprisingly versatile instrument, which, despite its modest specification, has been proven capable of playing a wide variety of music in an authoritative and compelling way.”

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Advance ticket purchases at a discounted $15 price can be made online at, available online until noon on Nov. 18. Remaining tickets will be available at the door for $20, cash only.

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St. Charles Borromeo Music Director to Perform at Carnegie Hall

Sergio Sandí, music director at St. Charles Borromeo Church, will perform at Carnegie Hall later this month in the debut concert of the Sandí-Cullell Piano Duo.

AZLO Music Productions presents this debut as part of the “Amazonas” concert series, with a program of two-piano transcriptions of national dances and folklore tunes from Spain, France and Latin America — some of them composed specially for this occasion.

A native of Costa Rica, Sandí is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Manhattan School of Music. He is a recipient of Costa Rica’s National Prize in Music. Ferran Cullell, a native of Spain, studied at the Barcelona Conservatory, the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory, and the Manhattan School of Music. He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in many countries.

The concert takes place at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. For ticket purchases, visit

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Solo Performance of St. Mark’s Gospel Seeks to Place Listeners in First-Century Rome

Text Will Be from Kings James Version of Bible

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Carroll Gardens presents a rare solo performance of the Gospel According to St. Mark, among the first to be seen in New York since Alec McCowen’s legendary production nearly 20 years ago.

Actor-musician Christopher Johnson presents Mark’s complete original text as an after-dinner entertainment, the form in which it is believed to have been most likely “published” in a private home in first-century (Common Era) Rome.

In this version, which uses the text of the Authorized King James Version (1611), the anachronistic standard ending of Mark is replaced with the final chapter of Luke. This is a rare opportunity to experience the earliest gospel as the urgent “good news” it was meant to be:  a thundering yarn, with unforgettable characters, lightning dialogue and a hero who may be God, but is most certainly man.

Johnson trained as an actor at Boston University and appeared in a wide variety of classical and modern plays at Center Stage (Baltimore) and at the Playwrights’ Laboratory at Tanglewood.  He received musical training at the Manhattan School of Music, Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and has played, conducted and led workshops and reading sessions throughout the United States and in Britain. A committed reader-aloud, he credits his children with inadvertently leading him to St. Mark and to the performance-project of his life.

The Adult Christian Education program of historic St. Paul’s Church sponsors this performance, in the church’s recently restored nave, on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. The church is at the corner of Clinton and Carroll streets (199 Carroll St.). Proceeds will benefit the church’s building fund. Tickets are on sale now, via

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Catholic Migration Services Receives Major Citizenship Grant

Brooklyn-based Catholic Migration Services (CMS) announced this week that it has received a citizenship grant from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

This federal grant is awarded on a highly competitive basis and comes with an award of $250,000 to be dispersed over a two-year period to fund legal and educational services for lawful, permanent residents interested in applying for U.S. citizenship. Catholic Migration Services was one of only 40 organizations nationwide chosen for this grant and so joins the list of organizations in 24 states and the District of Columbia that will receive nearly $10 million from USCIS for citizenship services.

“We are thrilled and honored to receive this grant from USCIS,” said Rev. Patrick Keating, chief executive officer of Catholic Migration Services. “With this federal funding, and through our partnership with Brooklyn Public Library, we will be able to do so much more to reach the hundreds of thousands of lawful permanent residents that call New York City home. There is a great need for quality citizenship preparation services in this city, and we are very happy to be working toward meeting the needs of our city’s diverse immigrant communities with this program.”

Since the inception of its Citizenship and Integration Grant Program in 2009, USCIS has awarded a total of $43 million to immigrant-serving organizations in 35 states and the District of Columbia, helping more than 93,000 permanent residents prepare for citizenship. Thanks to this grant funding, CMS will expand its existing naturalization legal services, while, at the same time, its partner and sub-grantee, Brooklyn Public Library, will offer free citizenship instructional courses at several local library branches located throughout the borough.

Catholic Migration Services is a nonprofit legal services organization that was established in 1971 by the then-Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn Most Reverend Francis J. Mugavero to serve the needs of immigrants and refugees in Queens and Brooklyn. Originally operating in a small storefront office as the immigration services arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn, today the organization is a fully independent 501(c)(3) corporation, offering a wide range of legal services related to immigration, housing and employment. Since its founding, CMS has served tens of thousands of immigrants — regardless of religion, race, or legal status — from at least 167 countries, who speak more than 80 languages. For more information about CMS and how to access its legal services, visit  





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