Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for June 12

June 12, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
One of two youth dabke dance troupes performs at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral’s Lebanese Festival. Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate

Festival Celebrates Flavors, Joy of Lebanese Culture

Brooklyn’s outdoor festivals take on the ethnic personalities of the borough. On May 30, Remsen Street was once again was enlivened with dabke dancing and the fragrances of Middle Eastern cooking, thanks to Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral’s annual festival.

Readers familiar with Remsen Street in Brooklyn Heights know that it is the block between Henry and Clinton streets that is a center of festivities — both for the cathedral, which is home to Maronite (Eastern Rite) Catholics, many of whom are of Lebanese and Syrian heritage, and for two synagogues.

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Members of the Orthodox Congregation B’nai Avraham and the Reform-branch Brooklyn Heights Synagogue pour out into the streets on Simchat Torah every autumn to dance with Torah scrolls. The Simchat Torah festival celebrates the joy of the cycle of reading Torah. But B’nai Avraham also has hosted street festivals, such as last August’s smart-device-free “Rest Is Coming” Shabbat block party.

The weather was beautiful for the May 30 “Celebrate the Flavors of Lebanon” festival, which attracted around 7,000 visitors, according to one longtime volunteer. Highlights were the performances of two youth dabke dance troupes and, of course, the homemade sajj culinary delights, which the parishioner volunteers prepared.

A “dabke” is a “step” dance that is native to Lebanon and neighboring Middle Eastern nations like Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq.

“When there is a festivity, you can always count on the dabke line springing up and winding through the assemblage to the accompaniment of the ‘derbeke’ (the drum) keeping the beat going. It’s lots of fun watching the leader of the line do a bit of fancy footwork as she/he twirls a kerchief above the head,” remarked Salma Vahdat, a frequent contributor to “Faith in Brooklyn.” After the two youth troupes, decked in the colorful costumes and colors of Lebanese (red, white and green) danced, some of the young men formed a boisterous dabke line, and many of the cooks and the kids — still in costume — eagerly joined in, keeping step with each other.

Local merchant sponsors included Teresa’s Restaurant, Damascus Bakery, Dellarocco’s Pizza and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. Individual sponsors also helped underwrite the festival.


Also among the wider-community sponsors were the World Lebanese Cultural Union (New York and New Jersey chapters); Cedars Authentic Middle Eastern Foods; and the Fill Factory. The festival customarily takes place on the last weekend of May each year.

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Kane St. Synagogue’s Rabbi Is Awarded Honorary Doctorate for Service to Community

A longtime Brooklyn rabbi was among 40 members of the Rabbinical Assembly who received honorary doctorates recently from the Jewish Theological Seminary for their decades of service to the community.

The Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan (near Columbia University) honored Rabbi Samuel Hersh Weintraub, the spiritual leader of the Kane Street Synagogue since 1996, and his colleagues in the Rabbinical Assembly who have served the Jewish community with distinction for 25 years or more. Thus, JTS celebrated the achievements of important spiritual leaders and expressed appreciation for their manifold contributions to Jewish life.

Professor Arnold M. Eisen, chancellor of JTS, conferred the degrees and delivered the convocation address. Rabbi Daniel S. Nevins, dean of the Division of Religious Leadership and Pearl Resnick Dean of The Rabbinical School, and Barry Lovell, chair of The Religious Leadership Advisory Board of JTS, sponsored the honorees. The rabbis receiving this distinction included congregational clergy, Jewish communal professionals, educators, and chaplains from across the United States as well as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, and England.

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Jewish Board Takes on $75 Million of Vital Social Service Programs

On June 1, $75 million of essential programs and services were transferred from Federation Employment & Guidance Services (FEGS) to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (The Jewish Board).

This represents the largest group of programs to be transferred from FEGS, a human services agency that had declared bankruptcy in March. The Jewish Board now becomes the largest human services agency in New York City, with a total annual budget of approximately $250 million.

David Rivel, chief executive officer of the Jewish Board, said, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague organization, which has worked for 80 years to provide services for some of New York’s neediest, but we are pleased we were able to save these valuable programs, both for the people served and the staff employed by them. We are grateful for the support of New York State and the UJA-Federation for making this unprecedented transfer of the scope and range of these services as smooth and straightforward as possible.”

The Jewish Board currently serves more than 10,780 clients in Brooklyn in a wide range of programs, including: care management services; mental health clinics; preventive services; an emergency shelter for survivors of domestic violence; supported housing and apartment treatment programs for adults with mental illness; and residences for individuals with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. Many of the Brooklyn services cater specifically to the needs of the Orthodox Jewish community.

The FEGS programs in Brooklyn that have been transferred to the Jewish Board include:  Brooklyn Apartment Program, Judge Caroline K. Simon Residence and Duryea Place Community Residence, all located on Duryea Place; Brooklyn Supported Apartment Program (scattered site); Brooklyn Clinic on Kings Highway; and Brooklyn Personalized Recovery Oriented Services.

The portfolio of transferred programs includes 850 apartments (both scattered site and group residences), six mental health clinics, three day programs serving adults with mental illness, care management and other programs, which serve more than 8,000 people throughout New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Nearly 800 people, most of whom have been made offers of employment by the Jewish Board, are employed in these programs.

For more than 140 years, the Jewish Board has been helping individuals to realize their potential and live as independently as possible. With hope and resilience guiding its work, the Jewish Board promotes recovery by addressing all aspects of a person’s life, including mental and physical health, family, housing, employment and education. Each year, the nonprofit organization serves more than 35,000 people of all ages across the five boroughs and at a campus in Westchester.

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HealthCare Chaplaincy Installs Rabbi Maurice Appelbaum

Ministry Emphasizes Interfaith Teamwork

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) installed Rabbi Maurice Appelbaum of Greenpoint in the ministry of chaplaincy care at the nonprofit organization’s recent annual convocation.

The yearly event, which was hosted at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan, includes both a commissioning of new chaplains and a renewal of commitment to spiritual care by other professional chaplains.

At the Ceremony of Commissioning, HealthCare Chaplaincy Network charged Appelbaum in part to perform “with skill and wisdom, always tempered by compassion.”

Appelbaum works for HCCN as coordinator for chaplaincy and education, and as a chaplaincy educator at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Earlier this month, he was granted board certification under the National Association of Jewish Chaplains and credentialed as an associate supervisor of clinical pastoral education by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.

“It is humbling to have reached this milestone,” Appelbaum said. “I find strength from working with those suffering and teaching students how to sit with the pain of others. I hope to play a small role in helping people find their own sources of strength, and gain meaning and comfort in their journey.”

Appelbaum also serves as the rabbi of Congregation Ahavas Israel in Greenpoint, a post he has held since 2009 after being ordained by Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in Riverdale. Michelle Friedman, M.D., chair of the school’s department of pastoral counseling, joined Appelbaum on stage during the ceremony.

At the heart of the annual convocation, HCCN led professional chaplains of various faiths in a communal prayer of recommitment to their service, which includes a pledge to “respect the religious and spiritual traditions of my patients, colleagues, as well as my own,” and “practice the art and science of spiritual care in an honorable and ethical manner.”

“We are witnessing a time of transformation in spiritual care in health care. The invaluable contribution of spiritual care to overall wellness is gaining recognition, both in research and in practice,” said Rev. Eric J. Hall, HCCN’s president and CEO. “Every day, around the world, chaplains of all faiths are nobly making their mark, by listening and walking with people on their personal journeys to overcome spiritual distress.”

HealthCare Chaplaincy Network is a national health care nonprofit organization that offers spiritual-related information and resources, as well as professional chaplaincy services in hospitals, other health care settings and online. Its mission is to advance the integration of spiritual care in health care through clinical practice, research and education in order to increase patient satisfaction and help people faced with illness and grief find comfort and meaning —whoever they are, whatever they believe, wherever they are. For more information, visit www.healthcarechaplaincy.org, call 212-644-1111 and connect on Twitter and Facebook.

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Evening of Reflection to Support Those Who Lost Children in Gun Violence

Elected government leaders and clergy members are joining forces for “An Evening of Remembrance and Reflection” to support families who have lost children to gun violence. The reception and ceremony, on Monday, June 15, will be held at the TOP Civic Center in East Flatbush, an event venue.

Among the scheduled speakers, as of press time, are Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Susan Herman and City Councilmember Jumaane Williams.

“An Evening of Remembrance and Reflection” will honor Danielle Sered, director of Common Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice; Ernest Skinner, community liaison for City Councilmember Jumaane Williams; Pat Russo, president of Chefs Choice and director of Atlas/NYPD Cops & Kids; and Marie Delus, deputy agency contracting officer/Office of the Mayor’s Fiscal Operations, who is also New York spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, NY.

The event co-chairs are Pastor Edward Jenkins of Ebenezer Wesleyan Methodist Church in Crown Heights and Pastor Philip Wesley III, pastor of New Dimension Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

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Bishop Chilton Knudsen to Ordain Deacon Kate Salisbury to Priesthood

The Right Rev. Chilton Knudsen, Assistant Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, will ordain the Rev. Katherine Salisbury to the priesthood. The ordination liturgy, scheduled for Saturday, June 13, at 11 a.m., is the culmination of a long journey of discernment for Salisbury, who has served as a transitional deacon at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn Heights. Bishop Knudsen will preside and preach at the ordination.

Bishop Knudsen has served as Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Long Island since June 2014. She was the Bishop of Maine from 1997 to 2008. Since retiring, has also assisted in the Dioceses of New York and Lexington, Ky. This summer, she will move to the Diocese of Maryland to serve as Assistant Bishop and exercise her gifts in recovery ministries.

Salisbury’s ordination weekend will also be a reunion for the parish of St. Ann’s. When she presides at Eucharist for the first time on Sunday, June 14, the parish will welcome back the Rev. Craig Townsend, a longtime mentor of Deacon Salisbury. Townsend, now of St. James Church in Manhattan, served as Associate Rector at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church during the mid-1980s. He will preach at the Sunday, June 14 service that begins at 11 a.m.

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Four St. Ann’s Parish Leaders Honored for Their Service

When Bishop Lawrence Provenzano visited St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church recently, he confirmed members of the parish and taught a Sunday School class. But he also had a wonderful surprise in store. He conferred the Bishop’s Medals for Distinguished Service on four longtime parish leaders.

The Rev. John E. Denaro, rector of St. Ann’s, explained to the congregation that Bishop Provenzano had invited him to nominate up to four parishioners to receive this honor.

The honorees are Carol Francescani, Frank Kain, Syd Farley and Claudia Barber. Over an extended number of years, all of these people have given to the Church in many ways: as wardens or members of vestry; as members of choir and as leaders in other ministries such as liturgical servers.

Moreover, Carol Francescani maintains the parish’s expanding website. Frank Kain has provided major support to the parish’s liturgical life. Syd Farley has led Sunday School and organized countless crafts fairs. Claudia Barber, who is presently a Warden, has served in just about every area of ministry.

The Bishop’s formal citation states, “without thought of personal recognition.” Fr. Denaro enhanced the surprise by secretly inviting family members to participate in the ceremony.

Bishop Provenzano’s sermon urged everyone to carry the church’s message of caring and love to those in the communities where we live. “Be the Church!” he exclaimed. After the medal presentation, he stepped to the microphone and remarked, “If this presentation had come earlier in the service, I would not have had to preach! I know these people lined up here in front of you. They are the Church!”

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Milestones in Faith

Cornerstone Baptist Church

Cornerstone Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant marks two milestones during the month of June.

The congregation had its very first meetings in people’s homes in 1917, and was officially recognized on June 9, 1920 as Cornerstone Baptist Church by the six Baptist churches that composed the Recognition Council.

During those three years, Concord Baptist Church had been organized and dedicated to the Service of God on Sept.r 10, 1917.The Reverend William H. Rodman was the founder and first pastor. Then, a month before the formal recognition was given, a meeting was held on May 3, 1920 to organize this body into a permanent church. The aforementioned Recognition Council officially recognized Cornerstone Baptist Church on June 9, 1920, by holding a public service. The financial offering for this service was five dollars.

Twenty five years and a day later, on June 10, 1945, the congregation of Cornerstone Baptist marched from the old building to the new (and current) site at Madison Street and Lewis Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Dr. Milton K. Curry, Sr. preached the first sermon at their new sanctuary. 


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