Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for April 8

April 8, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann and Cantor Lisa Segal of Congregation Kolot Chayeinu join with Amichai Lau-Lavie of Lab/Shul to light the candles that symbolize the evening’s three faith observances.  Eagle photo by Francesca Norsen Tate
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Interfaith Freedom’s Feast Weaves Together Hope, Love, Solidarity

Prominent Faith Leaders From AroundNYC And Brooklyn Offer Reflections

How does one fit 180 people from different religious backgrounds in the same room and bring them into harmony with one another? It helps if the event is happening in Brooklyn, known as one of the most amenable interfaith places in the United States.

And it helped also that Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner Companies joined other key sponsors to organize what was a highly successful Freedom’s Feast at BAM Café on Saturday, April 4.

Ratner joined Lab/Shul, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of our Lives, Bend the Arc and Auburn Theological Seminary to co-sponsor Freedom’s Feast, an Interfaith Celebration of Hope, Second Seder and Holy Saturday. The spacious BAM Café was the venue. The anticipated attendance of 180 was at capacity.

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 marked the Jewish Passover Second Seder, the Christian Holy Saturday and Easter Vigil (eve of Resurrection Sunday), as well as the 47th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Freedom’s Feast incorporated the Hagaddah and the Biblical narratives of Passover and Easter with 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. Ordained and lay faith leaders expressed the importance of love and justice through poetry and personal reflections. The evening was divided into sections. For example, Kadesh focused on sacred time; Ur’chatz on sanctifying space; Karpas on opening our senses.

The opening reflection was a Mother’s Prayer for Peace led by Debbie Almontaser of the Muslim Community Network, the Rev. Kimberleigh Jordan of Auburn Theological Seminary (on Riverside Drive in Manhattan) and Nili Lotan of Lab/Shul NYC.

The Rev. Dr. Karim Camara of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services opened his reflection on “Sanctifying Space” by quipping that his own interfaith religious background — which included Muslim, Baptist and Pentecostal family members and training — would be complete by Yeshiva training. He then said that in his Christian tradition, foot washing was a rite of servanthood and love for one another. He invited the participants, in a blend of foot washing and the traditional Jewish rite of hand washing before meals, to wash each other’s hands.

During a segment titled “What Is Enslavement Now?” the “Let My People Go Litany” focused on different kinds of slavery: being imprisoned by poverty and lack of education; the extremist group Boko Haram’s kidnapping and trafficking of young women in Nigeria; the entrapment of fear that gay and lesbian youths experience; and the collective suspicion and accusations that American Muslims experience post-9/11. Bertha Lewis of The Black Institute, Barbara Costigan of Intersections International, James Lecesne of The Trevor Project, Debbie Almontaser of the Muslim Community Network and Candace Y. Simpson of Union Theological Seminary led this segment.

Stosh Cotler of Bend the Arc talked about the vital cocoon stage of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Cotler pointed out that the difference between change and transformation is that, in the latter, one cannot return to one’s former self. She said a shedding, or surrendering, of oneself, just as the cocoon becomes a liquid being, is necessary to be transformed.

Also giving reflections were Pastor Gilford Monrose of the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office; Sabrina Hayeem-Ladami, who sang a prayer from the Iraqi Jewish tradition; Rev. Kimberleigh Jordan, who presented a film clip from Joni Morrison’s “Beloved;” Rev. Kirsty DePress of the Marble Collegiate Church; Rev. Vince Anderson of CityLights Community; Kendell Pinkney of Kolot Chayeinu; and Amichai Lau-Lavie of Lab/Shul NYC. The Lab/Shul Band performed throughout the evening.

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Another Seder: For Senior Citizens

Seniors Take Joy in Passover at JASA Pre-Passover Meal

Senior citizens danced and sang with Rabbi Yossi Mendelson as they enjoyed a Passover Seder on Wednesday, April 1.

Hosting this Seder in Manhattan Beach was the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA), a New York-based nonprofit serving tens of thousands of older adults each year by providing social work, recreational, health, home care, housing, cultural and educational services to help sustain them in their homes and communities and offer opportunities for a better quality of life.

April 1’s Seder gave seniors, including those that are homebound, the opportunity to continue participating in an unbroken tradition and feel like an important part of the community on this special occasion. Rabbi Yossi Mendelson gave a walkthrough of Israelite history, incorporating song, dance, insights into thankfulness, trust and love and abundant humor. He related well to the gathering, bringing even the shiest of seniors into the conversation and singing.

Starting the Seder with the traditional lighting of candles was Edith Dolowich. Four members of the community — Etta Dorf, Carl Yablonka, Sylvia Fields and Boris Dubrovsky — standing in this occasion as “children,” asked the Four Questions, starting with “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

During the meal, popular entertainer Shlomo Haviv sang and danced a variety of popular Hebrew, Yiddish, Broadway and jazz melodies. He is known for singing in 17 languages.

JASA events connect homebound seniors and isolated seniors to their communities and help them feel more engaged in their lives.

JASA serves the wider community as well, improving the lives of more than 43,000 older adults each year. On a daily basis, JASA provides life-sustaining social services for seniors and peace of mind for their loved ones.

JASA, now more than 45 years old, is considered one of New York’s largest and most trusted agencies, serving older adults in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Long Island. JASA aids older New Yorkers of all races, religions and economic backgrounds. For more information, visit , or call (212) 273-5272.

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Assemblyman Cymbrowitz Announces New Budget Will Benefit Senior Citizens

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-District 45-Brooklyn), who represents the district in which the above-mentioned April 1 Passover Seder at the Scheuer House of Manhattan Beach took place, announced last week that the newly passed 2015-16 state budget provides valuable help for senior citizens.

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, whose district stretches from Midwood to Manhattan Beach and includes Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend and Brighton Beach, said that the new budget successfully preserves Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) prescription coverage for seniors, community services for the elderly and other vital programs that are essential for the well-being of New York State’s older adults.

“Protecting our seniors and other vulnerable populations is always a top priority when crafting the budget and I’m pleased that the state’s new spending plan delivers in many important ways,” he said.

New York’s EPIC program will be fully funded at $126.5 million to cover the prescription drug needs of seniors.

The budget also increases support for a wide array of programs and initiatives that serve seniors, including community services, expanding NYConnects, In-Home Services for the Elderly EISEP program, informal caregiver programs for family members who are responsible for their elderly loved ones, respite and adult day care services and Naturally-Occurring Retirement Communities.

The new budget also includes funding for Alzheimer’s programs, prevention of elder abuse, education and outreach and the Seniors Council Action Hotline, as well as the Community Services for the Elderly Program, a unique funding stream that allows counties to use the money as needed on a wide array of supportive programs for older adults and their caregivers. Counties can use this flexible funding to provide meals, respite, social adult day, transportation, senior centers, or whatever other services older adults need to help them stay at home and in the community.

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Way of the Cross Procession Marks 20th Year in Brooklyn

Worshipers Pack St. James Cathedral Before Crossing Brooklyn Bridge

Worshipers joining a Good Friday procession across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge on April 3 joined other Christians in 180 U.S cities and 70 countries around the world for Communion and Liberation’s 20th Annual Way of the Cross.

St. James Cathedral-Basilica on Jay Street was at standing-room capacity for a service incorporating the First Station of the Cross, part of a devotional that was prayed at various stops on the Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall, Ground Zero and St. Peter Church on Barclay Street in Lower Manhattan. The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, presided. Also leading reflections and Stations of the Cross were Communion and Liberation in New York Ecclesiastical Assistant Fr. Richard Veras, Brother Giles Barrie, CFR, Timothy Fortin, Timothy Herrmann, Melva Osakwe and Johanna Provenzano. The cross bearers were Richard Vega (New York member of Communion and Liberation) and John Bartlett (Firefighter, Engine 167, Staten Island).

The Brooklyn Way of the Cross was established on Good Friday in 1996, with about 30 participants, and has grown to a few hundred since then, particularly on the first Holy Week after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Communion and Liberation, an education and discipleship movement in the Roman Catholic Church, began this tradition, which incorporates traditional readings from the Gospel and passages from contemporary Catholic writers and choral pieces. Christopher Vath conducted the choir of Communion & Liberation during Friday’s Way of the Cross.

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Famed Organist Walter Klauss Will Give Organ Recital Here

Walter Klauss, professor of music emeritus of the C.W. Post Center of Long Island University, will perform a recital concert at the First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn Heights this coming Sunday, April 12, at 2:30 p.m.

The recital will commemorate the “Sweet 16” of the rebuild of the organ by Mann & Trupiano in 1999. In 1900, the original Hutchings organ was given to First Unitarian in memory of Edward H.R. Lyman by his daughter, Annie White. By the mid-1970s the organ was mechanically precarious and a contract was signed with Mann & Trupiano of Brooklyn to rebuild and restore it. As much as 75 percent of the original Hutchings pipework remains.

Klauss’ program will feature organ works from the 16th through the 20th century, including “Prelude” and “Fugue in C Minor” by J.S. Bach, which was played at the original dedication of the organ 16 years ago, and a quartet of concerti by G.F. Handel.

Also planned are works by J. N. Hanff (c.1663-1711), Hans Friedrich Micheelsen (1902-1973), Francis Linley (1771-1800), Jean Langlais (1907-1991) and Maurice Duruflé (1902-1984).

Klauss served as minister of music at All Souls Unitarian Church in Manhattan from 1976 to August 2014. He also founded New York’s critically acclaimed Musica Viva concert series at All Souls. Klauss’ career began in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, with an organ recital at age 17 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Four years later, he was invited to give the premiere American performance of Jean Langlois’ Organ Concerto with members of the Cleveland Orchestra. He received his master of arts degree from Case Western Reserve University before moving to New York City. He chaired the music department at C.W. Post Center of Long Island University before retiring with the title of professor emeritus. He has performed and conducted concerts all over the world, including Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, South Korea, England and Zimbabwe. He is on the music faculty of Queens College (CUNY) and artist in residence at the Old Whalers’ Church in Sag Harbor, N.Y. Klauss continues to appear as a recitalist and guest conductor of festival choruses and to lead workshops in choral conducting and performance techniques.

“I am thrilled to be able to present this program at the rededication of this important instrument,” Klauss said. “It is my hope that the musical selections will illustrate the versatility of the organ and showcase its beautiful sound.”

Tickets sell for $15 in advance or $20 at the door. All proceeds will be used to support music and other programming at The First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn. Advance tickets can be purchased at

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‘Anchor of Our Soul’ Conference Geared to Christian Singles

Join Christian singles of all ages and from all walks of life from throughout the tri-state area for a life-changing conference featuring teaching, worship and fellowship.

Oasis Christian Singles sponsors this daylong conference on Saturday, April 18, titled “The Anchor of Our Soul.” Doors open and registration begins at 9:30 a.m. The program itself, running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is geared to those who find themselves being “tossed to and fro by the storms of life.”

Believers have a choice to face life in their own strength, or to allow Christ to live His life through them. This conference will teach in practical ways how to walk in the Spirit moment by moment.

Speakers Don Steve, MABC, and his wife Leis Steve met at a Christian singles event and have a heart for singles ministry. Don is pastor and counseling director at Grace Christian Church in New Jersey. Leis is the staff counselor. Musical guest Aaron Louie is the worship leader.

The cost for the conference is $25 at the door. An additional cost for a manual is $20. This is optional, but strongly suggested. To purchase, or reserve a manual, visit and click on the “words workbook” payment link. All workbook orders need to be in place before April 13.

Participants also need to bring their own lunches. This special day of ministry is also open to pastors and their spouses for a two-for-one admission fee.

For directions and info, visit The conference will be held at First Evangelical Free Church, 6501 Sixth Ave. at 66th Street.

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