Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for April 1

April 1, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Manhattan Beach Jewish Center. Photo credit: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
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Manhattan Beach Jewish Center Nominated For State, National Registers of Historic Places

Assemblymember Cymbrowitz Calls Hurricane Sandy-Ravaged Building ‘A Real Survivor’

The Manhattan Beach Jewish Center (MBJC) has achieved the distinction of being one of just 22 properties, resources and districts in New York State recommended for addition to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) announced on Thursday, March 26.

According to the NYS Board for Historic Preservation, the MBJC at 60 West End Ave. is historically significant in the areas of ethnic history and religion as a mid-20th century synagogue surviving in Brooklyn. Its design by Brooklyn architect Jacob W. Sherman reflects developments in Bauhaus-influenced European synagogues of the 1930s. The MBJC’s website describes itself as “celebrating over 90 years of providing our community with all services traditionally provided by an Orthodox Jewish synagogue.”

The website mentions that a new building and seven-story community center were constructed in the 1950s and ’60s to provide a variety of programs.

“Our goal is to integrate all elements in the surrounding Jewish community into as many of our programs as possible, taking [into] account the backgrounds of the people attending the programs,” the site reads. The immediate neighborhoods it serves include Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay.

Assemblymember Cymbrowitz said the MBJC suffered significant damage during Superstorm Sandy and the nomination to the Historic Registers “is a testament to its rich past and bright future.”

“Shortly after Sandy, I remember watching the state pump 350,000 gallons of oil and water out of the basement of the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center. More than two years later, the MBJC is still recovering, but it’s a real survivor. I think the nomination reflects that fact,” he said.

Assemblymember Cymbrowitz noted also that being listed in the State and National Registers makes property owners eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits – a significant boost for property owners seeking funds to revitalize.

The MBJC is the only property from Kings County and one of only two from New York City to be nominated. (The other is in the Bronx.)

Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation office, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register. Once they are reviewed and approved, they are then entered on the National Register.

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Valerie Lieber of Kane St. Synagogue Named One of America’s Most-Inspiring Rabbis

A Cobble Hill rabbi has been named one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis.”

Rabbi Valerie Lieber of the Kane Street Synagogue is one of 33 rabbinic men and women nationwide to be listed on the Jewish Daily Forward’s annual list of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis.” A Forward article by Anne Cohen and Maia Efrem titled “33 Men and Women Who Move Us” provides stories of the rabbis at a time when inspiration is most needed.

The authors write, “In the few short months since the dawn of 2015, the Jewish world has been stunned by terror, torn apart by partisan bickering, confronted with resurgent anti-Semitism in some communities and a seeping apathy in others. Read these stories and that troubling present melts in the face of genuine spiritual leadership and grace. Thanks to hundreds of nominations by our readers, we’ve identified 33 of the most inspiring men and women from North America who are defining and redefining what it means to be a rabbi in the 21st century.”

A graduate of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Rabbi Lieber is commended for “a constant source of new ideas and fun.”

Nominators wrote in to offer testimonials on her work with youth, such as volunteering at soup kitchens and collecting tzedakah (charitable donations) outside the local Trader Joe’s supermarket.

Another congregant wrote, “Rabbi Val is passionate about respecting the earth. She procured a grant from Hazon’s Jewish Greening Fellowship to found our Green Team. She also created a partnership with the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and led us on cleanups. Under her leadership, we installed energy-efficient lights in our historic sanctuary. A leader who balances thinking and action, Rabbi Val gets it done while inspiring everyone around her to pitch in, too.”

Ariel Krasnow contributed to the Jewish Daily Forward article. Readers can view the full story at

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Assembly Yields Promises from City Officials To Speed Up Capital Process, Reduce Gun Violence

More than 650 leaders from East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) participated in the second of two assemblies to call on elected leaders to improve housing and neighborhood infrastructures. The Sunday, March 22 meeting was hosted at St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church.

The leaders and gathering called on Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver to commit to a completion date for capital projects at Heckscher Playground and Green Central Knoll Park, for which EBC won funding last spring. They also pushed Commissioner Silver to reform the slow capital process that EBC leaders criticized in a Daily News op-ed last week.

“We think a process where the most simple fixes take three years is no process at all, just a mess. We know you didn’t create this process, but as our city’s parks commissioner it’s your responsibility to fix it … What are the most two important steps you are taking to fix this broken capital process?” said Adriane Williams, St. Barbara’s parishioner and leader with EBC.

Commissioner Silver committed to completing capital renovations at Heckscher Playground by April 2017 and the construction of a comfort station at Green Central Knoll by October 2017.

Commissioner Silver also responded by outlining a plan to reform the capital process that included streamlining the parks design by standardizing the scoping process and limiting the number of designs used for simple projects, calling on the mayor to allocate $2 million in this year’s budget to pre-test 40 sites a year and working with other city agencies to reduce the lengthy procurement process by changing cumbersome state laws. He set a goal of completing future capital projects in one to two years.

After the assembly, Williams said, “We’re glad the commissioner came today with a plan to clean up this mess, but now he has to follow through. We won’t be satisfied until our parks are finished and no neighborhood has to wait three years for a bathroom.”

Comptroller Scott Stringer also joined representatives from 70 cities and police departments from across the country in signing a letter to the largest gun manufacturers. The letter demands that Berreta, Glock, Sig Sauer and several other companies provide information about their distribution practices and willingness to invest in better gun safety technology.

“Thank you, Comptroller, for your leadership. We hope the mayor can learn from your example.  We’ve got a lot of problems in our city that require less talk and more action by the mayor,” said Rev. David Brawley, pastor of St. Paul Community Baptist Church and co-chair of EBC.

-Contributed by Matthew Marienthal, East Brooklyn Congregations

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Christian Holy Week Observances Offered Around Brooklyn

Grace Church offers a Contemplative Way of the Cross liturgy on Wednesday of Holy Week, April 1. The candlelight service, which begins at 7 p.m., will include Scriptural Stations of the Cross interspersed with prayer, meditative Taizé chant and silent contemplation. Grace Church Brooklyn Heights is at 254 Hicks St. Call (718) 624-1850 for more information.

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The Catholic group Communion and Liberation has, for two decades, sponsored the annual Good Friday Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge.

This year, Good Friday falls on April 3. Participants will gather at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, 250 Cathedral Place, just north of Tillary Street, for the 20th Way of the Cross walk. The procession will stop at the Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall and Ground Zero and will arrive at its final destination, St. Peter’s Church, 22 Barclay St., in lower Manhattan. The event will conclude at 1 p.m.

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St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Carroll Gardens has announced its 2015 Holy Week Schedule.

The observances and liturgies included a Palm Sunday Procession into the sanctuary and Blessing of Palms and mass on Sunday, March 29. A morning prayer will be offered at 7:30 a.m. on Maundy Thursday (which is named for the Latin mandatum, or new commandment, which Jesus is believed to have given his disciples, to love one another). Also on Thursday will be a 7:30 p.m. mass with foot washing and the Procession to the Altar of Repose, which commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus’ giving of that commandment. Good Friday services include the noon formal liturgy for Good Friday and a 5:30 p.m. Stations of the Cross for children.

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St. Paul’s Church will also host the Deanery’s Great Vigil of Easter with the Liturgies of Light at 7:30 p.m. The Deanery of St. Mark is composed of the local Episcopal parishes in western Brooklyn along the waterfront. Throughout the history of Christianity, newly instructed catechumens were baptized into the Christian Church on the Easter Vigil. According to that tradition, the liturgy on April 4 will include baptisms and the first Eucharist of the Easter season.

The Solemn Mass of Easter Day will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 5, the Feast of the Resurrection. Visit for more information.



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