Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for March 27

March 27, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pastor Gilford Monrose, director of faith-based and clergy initiatives for Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, is pictured at an information session in 2014. Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate

Freedom’s Feast at BAM Café Offers Chance to Share Each Other’s Traditions

April 4 Chosen for its Significance to Faith and Civil Rights Observances

A diverse society that unites people — that’s New York City’s trademark.

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

Freedom’s Feast, an interfaith celebration of hope, will bring together clergy members, civil rights activists and performing artists on Saturday, April 4 at BAM Café.

In addition to their congregations’ respective observances of Passover and the Easter Triduum, religious leaders all around New York City join forces to share and learn.

April 4 was chosen as the date for the feast because of its unique and important meaning in the Christian, Jewish and African-American communities — it marks the Jewish Passover Second Seder, the Christian Holy Saturday and Easter Vigil (eve of Resurrection Sunday) and the 47th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Freedom’s Feast will include highlights from the Hagaddah and the Biblical narratives of Passover and Easter, live music, multimedia interactive storytelling, a kosher for Passover feast and a call to action for justice, freedom and human dignity across America and all over the world.

Co-hosts are Forest City Ratner Companies, in partnership with Lab/Shul, Auburn Theological Seminary, Kolot Chayeinu and Bend the Arc.

A list of participating religious leaders and civic leaders (as of press time) included: Bruce Ratner, founder and executive chairman, Forest City Ratner Companies; Rev. Karim Camara, New York State Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services; and several Brooklyn clergy members, including Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Congregation Kolot Chayeinu; Cantor Lisa B. Segal and a large delegation from Kolot Chayeinu;  the Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry, The House of the Lord Pentecostal Church; and Pastor Gilford Monrose, Brooklyn Borough President’s Office.

Lab/Shul is an everybody-friendly, artist-driven, experimental community for sacred Jewish gatherings based in New York City and reaching the world. The Lab/Shul community is dedicated to exploring, creating and celebrating innovative opportunities for contemplation, life cycle rituals, the arts, life-long learning and social justice.

Freedom’s Feast runs from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 4. Tickets can be purchased online at: BAM Café is at 30 Lafayette Ave.

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Packed Rallies Call On Mayor to Keep Promises on Revitalizing Neighborhoods

More than 500 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants demanded immediate repairs from NYCHA Chair Shola Olatoye and welcomed new NYPD Chief of Brooklyn North Jeffrey Maddrey at an action assembly sponsored by East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) and Metropolitan Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF) on Tuesday, March 17.

Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church at 680 Mother Gaston Blvd. hosted the assembly, which was packed to capacity with an attendance of 500. The assembly’s slogan was “East Brooklyn Congregations Leaders to Mayor: Less Talk, More Walk.”

At this meeting, EBC leaders met with NYCHA Chair Olatoye and pushed her to repair hundreds of moldy bathrooms and crumbly walls. Olatoye and Police Chief Maddrey both spoke, as did eight EBC leaders.

EBC is composed of 25 congregations, schools, and homeowners’ associations in East New York, Canarsie, Brownsville, Ocean Hill and Bushwick, and at least one in the western part of the borough — Brooklyn Heights — with a longstanding bond to the coalition. EBC has built, or rehabilitated, more than 4,000 homes and apartments, sponsored new small high schools and helped shut down hundreds of drug and criminal sites. Metro IAF is the nation’s first and largest coalition of multi-faith organizations, with seven decades of experience winning tough battles across the nation.

Metro IAF and EBC had sponsored a packed assembly last year, on March 30, at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, at which Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke. That assembly’s purpose was to accelerate efforts to improve the standard of living for their fellow New Yorkers.

Mayor de Blasio, familiar with the work of Metro IAF, kept his commitment to attend that 2014 event and responded to the needs addressed at the assembly. The Rev. David Brawley, co-chair of EBC and Metro IAF and pastor of St. Paul Community Baptist Church, had expressed frustration at that gathering with other city commissioners whose response had so far been delayed, or nonexistent.

Pastor Brawley asked Mayor de Blasio, “Will you encourage the commissioners and heads of NYPD, HPD and DOE to meet with us in the next two weeks? We’ve got some plays to run. We’ve got to score some points. But we can’t do that if they don’t play.”

Rev. Brawley had also asked Mayor de Blasio, “Will you meet with us, just for 15 minutes, at City Hall? Just 15 minutes. Just so we can assess the progress on these matters?”

Mayor de Blasio had responded that a “whole new leadership in place that will change the direction of the city’s approach to all the communities of people affected by Sandy, and for creating jobs for all those affected by the storm. All last year I said it and I’ll say it again: we’re living ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ There are too many people suffering. We can’t continue policies that don’t address that. What we’ve said from the very beginning — with that basketball-like urgency — we try to create an energy and a rhythm; we’re making them aggressively and we’re making them fast. Because people are hurting and they need that change fast.”


That Was Then; This Is Now

However, in the year since that assembly, EBC members have grown frustrated with what they say is the mayor’s silence and lack of follow-through. And EBC leaders report that Mayor de Blasio was not present at the assembly last Tuesday.

“The mayor has been conspicuously silent about fixing many problems that ordinary New Yorkers face. The campaign is over. The movement can wait. We need money, accountability and imagination to get public housing repaired, new senior housing built, neighborhood parks fixed and illegal guns off our streets. It’s time for less talk and more walk from this mayor. It’s time for the mayor to start delivering,” said Pastor Brawley.

Likewise, Fr. Joseph Hoffman, pastor of St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church and EBC leader, said last Tuesday, “Last spring the mayor announced that he wanted to level the playing field by prioritizing neighborhood parks in the outer-boroughs. Now, we’re hearing that it will take three years to complete a bathroom and a turf field in two of Bushwick’s most needy parks. If the mayor really wants to make New York a more equal city, he should stop talking and start building.”

As of press time for this column, they were scheduled to convene part two of the Action Assembly on Sunday, March 22. Sunday’s assembly was part of Metro IAF’s and EBC’s week of action, during which more than 1,2000 leaders addressed the disconnect between what they called the mayor’s rhetoric and the city’s actual delivery of more affordable housing, reduced gun violence and upgraded neighborhood parks.

New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and Comptroller Scott Stringer were scheduled to join more than 700 EBC leaders and Bushwick residents to participate in the March 22 assembly at St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church, 138 Bleecker St., in Brooklyn’s Bushwick section. They planned to celebrate their victory of $4.25 million for parks renovations, call upon Parks Commissioner Silver to improve the administration’s sluggish capital process and applaud Comptroller Stringer’s efforts to work with their campaign to curb gun violence. Both these officials were, as of press time on March 20, confirmed to attend.

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International ‘Good Deeds Day’ Aims to Nurture a Kinder World

St. Paul Community Baptist Church members participated in the international day of service called Good Deeds Day on Sunday, March 15. They joined more than 900,000 volunteers across the world who were expected to take part in Good Deeds Day 2015.

This is an annual tradition of doing good deeds (the Hebrew word is mitzvah) for the benefit of others locally, as well as the planet. During Good Deeds Day, people of all ages across the United States performed an act of kindness and love for someone else, putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and positively change the world.

The 2015 event marked the second annual Good Deeds Day Expo for St. Paul Community Baptist Church. Members of all ages — from child to adult — at the 4,000-member church volunteered with partner organizations on-site, doing their part to make other peoples’ lives better. Activities included Project Sunshine, through which parents and their kids created journal-crafting kits for hospitalized children nationwide. These kits included markers, construction paper and handwritten notes of love. Volunteers also partnered with God’s Love We Deliver to write birthday cards for homebound elderly and sick people throughout the city; others worked with Sound Wave Recycling to collect old, used and broken cellphones that will be data-wiped and repaired for donation to victims of domestic violence. Still others teamed with Operation Wounded Soldier to write letters of gratitude to wounded American service members.

Good Deeds Day founder Shari Arison’s son, David Arison, was at St. Paul Church on March 15, participating in the volunteer activities. He addressed the congregation during their Sunday worship, thanking them for welcoming him and for their commitment to doing good.

Shannon Meminger, activities coordinator for St. Paul Community Baptist Church, said, “Many members of our congregation desire to volunteer; however, with their busy lives, don’t have the opportunity to search for projects that interest them. Through Good Deeds Weekend, we teach our youth to be stewards of their community and always look to be agents of change and improvement.”

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More on ‘Good Deeds Day’ Founder, Shari Arison

Business leader and philanthropist Shari Arison initiated Good Deeds Day in 2007, which was launched and organized by the non-governmental organization Ruach Tova, part of the Ted Arison Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Arison Group.

“Participating in Good Deeds Day can inspire and lead to doing good year-round,” said David Arison, Shari’s son. “Even holding the door open for someone is a good deed.”

Today, Good Deeds Day has grown to become the largest and most far-reaching day of good deeds, with more than three million volunteering hours given globally. Volunteers include a full spectrum of society, representing more than 50 countries. More than 10,000 Good Deeds Day 2015 projects include painting homes for senior citizens, cleaning beaches and parks, renovating community centers, creating public gardens and caring for animals in shelters.

In the United States, Good Deeds Day took place in 37 states, including New York. Good Deeds Day was observed in Israel on Tuesday, March 24.  

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Catholic Blogger Praises Brooklyn Oratory for Beauty and ‘Transcendence of Liturgy’

The Brooklyn Oratory at St. Boniface Church received an enthusiastic shout-out this month from one of the major Roman Catholic bloggers.

Elizabeth Scalia, in her blog, The Anchoress, described a visit she and friends made to the Oratory, a small church of German origins that sits in the midst of Brooklyn’s busy MetroTech business district. Scalia is a Benedictine Oblate and the managing editor of the Catholic Portal at Patheos.

Scalia’s post, titled “A Novus Ordo Even a Latin Mass Fan Could Love,” describes her experiences participating in a panel discussion that covered social media and how it serves the church and expectations of Pope Francis’ presentations at an upcoming synod.  

But it was the liturgy — the “work” of the people in worship — that was the most memorable to Scalia and she described it as “transcendent.”

“For all of those who despair of Catholic liturgy — particularly those who believe it is not possible to find the liturgical sweetspot where prayerful depth meets accessibility within the Novus Ordo — this Oratory church hits the bulls-eye,” she wrote. “I think even my Byzantine and Orthodox-inclined friends would find in this liturgy the ‘heaven on earth’ we all seek. This was my first experience of worship in an Oratory church, but I hope it will not be my last.” Scalia continued, “After loving my dear Saint Philip Neri all these years, I finally saw what it is he created — the fruit of his vision — in the Oratory. Saint Philip oratories were meant to be a sacred space, not only for mass, but for talk, for engaging persons and minds, for the sharing of thoughts and of art; a place for wondering because, as Gregory of Nyssa said, ‘wonder leads to knowing.’”


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‘Havana Curveball’ Blends Love of Baseball and a Bar Mitzvah Project

Mica loves baseball and needs a Bar Mitzvah project, so he sends mitts and balls to kids in Cuba. This is the story that unfolds in “Havana Curveball,” a Patchworks Films production by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, which is coming to the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue on Sunday, March 29.

“Havana Curveball” is an official selection of the Global Peace Film Festival and of the Boston Jewish Film Festival. There is no charge for the viewing of this timely and heartwarming story, which begins at 3 p.m., with a reception to follow.  

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Forum @ St. Ann’s Hosts Poetry Reading

The Forum @ St. Ann’s presents an afternoon of poetry called, “A Branch Grows in Brooklyn,” inspired by the art of Nancy Azara. Her works have been on display since the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. The reading takes place on Palm Sunday, March 29.

Brooklyn Poets sponsors this afternoon of poetry, from 2 to 4 p.m., which will feature the work of six emerging talents. The poetry they share will reflect on nature, life, death and the borough of Brooklyn. A suggested donation of $5 will benefit future programming of The [email protected] St. Ann’s. A reception follows.

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