Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for July 21

July 21, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mark Meyer Appel (center), co-founder of The Bridge Project, receives a citation from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at the July 9 Iftar. Standing with them (at left) is Dr. Khadijah Abdul-Matin, the evening’s master of ceremonies. Brooklyn Eagle Photo by Francesca N. Tate

Borough President’s Iftar Unites People of Many Nationalities

Event Is Testament to the Three Abrahamic Faiths ‘Living, Working and Breaking Bread Together’

Members of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities packed the courtroom at Brooklyn Borough Hall on July 9 for the borough president’s annual Iftar, held during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

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

This year’s Iftar marked the 13th event since the tradition began under the administration of former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and was the second one that Borough President Eric Adams has hosted since taking office in 2014.

As ceremonies began, members of the volunteer group Muslims Giving Back provided water, juice and dates for all the tables, for the break-the-fast occurring that night at 8:36 p.m. New York time.

Offering opening remarks, Pastor Gilford Monrose, the borough president’s director of faith-based and clergy initiatives, expressed his thanks for the Muslim communities’ outreach beyond Brooklyn.

“We welcome you to Borough Hall with open arms. It’s a beautiful mosaic of Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said, thanking the gathering for “raising monies for the black churches that have been burned throughout the South.  I want to thank our Muslim brothers and sisters for doing such a phenomenal job. It shows that we can work together, we can break bread together and we can live together.”

Debbie Almontaser, who, along with a committee, has organized these Iftars for the past 13 years, named the many nationalities and cultural groups present at the Iftar. They included Afghani, Azerbaijan, Bangladeshi, Crimean, Mauritanian, Moroccan, Pakistiani, Turkish, Uzbekistani and Yemeni.

“All of the Central Asian countries are represented here, which is really a first for the last 13 years of … dinners happening here at Borough Hall,” she exclaimed.

Mohammed Almathil, offering his Ramadan reflection, spoke on a true reason for fasting — to become righteous and to learn to control one’s desires. He said also that leadership is not about title or position, but rather service to others.

Almathil then drew out two volunteers for an exercise on finding commonalities among differences. Almathil asked the two volunteers — Naji Almontaser and Borough President Adams — to face opposite directions, and instructed the audience to come up with ways in which the two are different. For each difference called out, the two men had to step further apart from each other.

Almathil then asked the audience to call out the two volunteers’ commonalities, as he bid Almontaser and Adams to step closer to each other and then embrace.

Several honorees received citations from Adams at the Iftar. They included Mark Meyer Appel, founder of The Bridge in Borough Park/Midwood; and Brooklyn native Faiza N. Ali, a community advocate who has worked with Brooklyn Congregations United, Our Lady of Refuge Church and its pastor, Fr. Michael Perry; as well as national Jewish agencies like Bend the Arc. The New York Times’ Samuel G. Freedman, in a 2012 article, observed that  Ali is “a Muslim trained by a Jewish agency to work with a coalition largely composed of Christian churches.”

Also honored were teen authors Sadaf and Huda Ayaz, whose books, “Crossing Red Lights” and “Freeze-Land: A New Beginning,” respectively, have received acclaim; Katherine Khatari, co-founder of the Yemeni-American Women’s Association and community activist; Kenan Taskent, president of the Eyup Sultan cultural center; The Coalition for Muslim School Holidays; Arshad Anwar; and Abdul Qadir.

Speakers that evening included Hon. Reyhan Ozgur, consulate general of Turkey; Hon. Ayten Eler, deputy consul general, Turkish Consulate in New York; and Hon. Judge Judy Harris Kluger, executive director of Sanctuary for Families

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Unity Parade of Flags to Launch Second Annual International Friendship Day

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ second annual International Day of Friendship is coming up on Sunday, Aug. 2. The event, which celebrates Brooklyn’s diversity, will be held at Cadman Plaza Park.

The celebration begins with a unity parade of flags at 1 p.m., originating on Adams and Tillary streets, and processing to Cadman Plaza Park. Cultural dances and performances from around the world take place from 2:30 to 5 p.m., with a “Taste of Continental Cuisine” running from 3 p.m. to as long as the food lasts.

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Borough President Hosts Aug. 5 Blood Drive

2015 Goal Is 100 Pints

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, responding to a constant need, will host Borough Hall’s next blood drive on Wednesday, Aug. 5. This year’s goal is 100 units, including blood drives held earlier this summer, in June and July.

The Aug. 5 blood drive runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., enabling donors to come in before work, on lunch break, or after work.

New and longtime donors alike should mark their calendars. 

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Mandela 25 Exhibition Will Open at Madiba Restaurants in Brooklyn, Harlem

Madiba Restaurant celebrated the anniversary of late South African leader Nelson Mandela’s first visit to New York City with an art exhibition and special events last weekend.

Mandela, after years of imprisonment for his efforts to end Apartheid in his native land, became South Africa’s first black democratically elected president. He was known affectionately by his tribal name of Madiba. Mandela died in December 2013 and a delegation of faith leaders from around the world, including the Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry of Brooklyn’s House of the Lord Church, attended the funeral.

The House of Mandela and Madiba Restaurants in Brooklyn and Harlem hosted an exhibition on Saturday, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Mandela’s first visit to New York as well as his birthday, which would have been on that date.

Join Hands with Nelson Mandela is an interactive project in which patrons were encouraged to create their own artwork by placing their handprints with those of Mandela on the official limited edition print.  The artwork is a symbol of unity and pride inspired by Mandela and the principles for which he fought. It will be displayed in celebration of his memory.

Madiba Brooklyn and Harlem will also host celebrations on July 25 with House of Mandela wine tastings and will feature various Mandela 25 artwork pieces originally created by Mandela himself.

Archbishop Desmond and Leah Tutu, His Excellency Sir Rodney Williams (the governor general of Antigua) and Lady Sandra Williams, Dr. Makaziwe Mandela and other leaders have also participated in the project and have become part of the chain of global consciousness.  

The exhibition will be held daily at Madiba Harlem from July 4 through 28, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.



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