Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Oct. 26

October 26, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Monsignor Guy Massie, pictured at last month’s Congrega Maria SS Addolorata Procession around Carroll Gardens. Brooklyn Eagle Photo by Francesca N. Tate
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City Tech’s Kristallnacht Observance Brings In Child of Holocaust Survivors Rosenbaum

Honorees Include Brooklyn Pastor Committed to Interfaith Dialogue

Prominent lawyer, essayist and novelist Thane Rosenbaum is the keynote speaker for this year’s annual Kristallnacht observance at New York City College of Technology.

Moreover, this November marks the 27th anniversary of City Tech’s Jewish Faculty and Staff Association’s (JFSA) Distinguished Speakers Series, which was inaugurated on Nov. 10, 1988, on the 50th anniversary of the Kristallnacht tragedy. That first program featured Rabbi Gunter Hirschberg, president of the New York City Board of Rabbis.

On Nov. 9–10, 1938, the Nazis staged vicious pogroms—state-sanctioned, anti-Jewish riots—against the Jewish community of Germany. These came to be known as Kristallnacht (now commonly translated as “Night of Broken Glass”), a reference to the untold numbers of broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers and homes that were plundered and destroyed during the pogroms.

During the past quarter-century, the college’s JFSA Distinguished Speakers Series has brought in an impressive array of individuals who have shared their knowledge and ideas with the college community and the greater New York community.

In November 1995, the program was dedicated to the memory of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. (Rabin was assassinated on Nov. 4 of that year — 12th of Cheshvan in the Hebrew calendar.) The program featured an African-American witness to the Buchenwald liberation.

Other prominent speakers, including Daniel Libeskind, Edwin Schlossberg, Pete Hamill and Menachem Rosensaft, have honored the college with timely and inspiring words and greetings at these Kristallnacht programs. Several Holocaust survivors and individuals who have demonstrated humanitarian efforts have been honored, among them Nobel Laureate Günter Blobel. In a long list of prominent speakers appearing on campus in November 2012 was Nobel Laureate and Hidden Child Professor Roald Hoffmann. Last year’s program recognized Hazzan Leon S. Lissek, a Holocaust hidden child in France. Menachem Rosensaft also participated in the program.  Recognized posthumously was Anne Heyman, who established youth villages in Rwanda.


This Year’s Speaker, Thane Rosenbaum

Thane Rosenbaum’s talk, which starts at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 10, is titled, “Kristallnacht, 77 Years After: Never Again Anti-Semitism, Indifference and Racism!”

Rosenbaum is a child of Holocaust survivors. His mother had been in Majdanek, his father in various concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Their experiences in the Nazi death camps were not discussed within the household, but the subject has shaped Rosenbaum’s career and writing.

A summa cum laude graduate of University of Florida and 1981 class valedictorian, Rosenbaum then earned several graduate level degrees, including Juris Doctor (cum laude), and was editor of the Law Review at the University of Miami. Rosenbaum taught at Fordham Law School from 1992 to 2014 on human rights, legal humanities and law and literature. In spring 2005, he was a visiting professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, where he has been a frequent speaker. Prior to teaching, he was an associate in the litigation department at Debevoise & Plimpton, where he also coordinated the firm’s pro bono cases.

As a cultural commentator, Rosenbaum has been invited to speak at universities and other venues around the world, including the Yale University International Human Rights Symposium, Princeton University, the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies, the Goethe-Institut in New York and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He has served as an advisor, writer, co-producer and commentator on several documentary films, including “Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust,” produced and directed by Daniel Anker; “Forgiveness,” directed by Helen Whitney for PBS; and “Sidney Lumet, A Moral Lens,” a PBS American Masters film.

Under Rosenbaum’s leadership, the Forum on Law, Culture and Society (FOLCS) has hosted a wide range of notable guests, including Bill Clinton, Elie Wiesel and Mario Cuomo. Rosenbaum moderates “The Talk Show With Thane Rosenbaum,” an annual series of discussions on arts, culture, and politics, at the 92nd Street Y, where he has interviewed authors, musicians, directors, screenwriters, poets, politicians and other public figures. As the moderator of the “Trials & Error” series at 92Y, Rosenbaum’s panelists revisit high profile court cases for a behind-the-scenes look at the legal strategies and foibles with lawyers, journalists and the parties to the action or their family members and close associates.

His forthcoming book is titled “The High Cost of Free Speech: Rethinking the First Amendment.”


The Honorees

Distinguished Interfaith Award

The Rev. Msgr. Guy Massie, chair of the Ecumenical and Inter-Faith Commission of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and pastor of Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church, will receive this year’s Distinguished Interfaith Award, given in memory of ADL Rabbi Leon Klenicki.

Msgr. Massie came to Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen’s from his former parish of St. Andrew the Apostle in Bay Ridge. Along with his pastoral duties, he is also the chairperson for the Ecumenical and Inter-Faith Commission for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. A native of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section, Msgr. Massie has a keen interest in history and interfaith dialogue. He received a master’s degree in Judaic Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Rabbi Gilbert S. Rosenthal, director of the National Council of Synagogues, writes of Msgr. Massie, “Guy, a Catholic priest, felt a kinship to me, a rabbi, and I responded with a similar feeling of friendship and deep respect. I became a sort of mentor to him. When he expressed a desire to deepen his knowledge of Judaism and the Jewish roots of his Christian faith, I suggested that he study at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and I wrote his letter of recommendation. Guy pursued his studies in Hebrew, Bible, Talmud and Jewish philosophy and became the first Roman Catholic priest to receive the master’s degree from that Seminary.

“Guy Massie’s education enriched his priesthood, his preaching, his teaching and, above all, his attitude to Judaism. His interfaith activities are legendary; his associations with Jewish friends and colleagues are exemplary. He was our honored guest in our home for Sabbath dinners and Passover Seders. He attended services in my congregations when I preached and conducted services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. He became an honorary member of my family and my wife and children all came to love him.

“Guy Massie, in his pastoral work, preaching, teaching and human relations, is the living example of the Golden Rule in both Judaism and Christianity: Love your neighbor as yourself.”


Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award

Gita Kaufman (and her husband, Curt Kaufman, honored posthumously) will be honored for the film “Shadows From My Past.”

“Shadows From My Past” (2010, 85 min) is a documentary filmed in Austria, Germany, France and the U.S. It deals with the mixed emotions of an American Jewish woman, Gita Kaufman, returning to her native Vienna, which she had to flee as a child in February 1940. Searching for the missing parts to her own past, she also seeks answers to questions of moral ambiguity, individual as opposed to collective guilt, and the degree to which today’s generation is responsible for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers.

As a producer, director and writer, Gita Kaufman has co-produced and directed “Mary Leah Bandy” (chief film archivist for the Museum of Modern Art), as well as several educational and industrial films. Gita has served as judge for documentary video awards at the New York Film Festival and the Cable Ace Awards, and was a finalist in the From the Heart and The New Century Writers Contests. Gita has taught screenwriting and writing courses, and is a mentor for film students for City University of New York, New York University and Brooklyn College.

Curt Kaufman directed and co-produced “Mary Leah Bandy,” as well as several educational and industrial films. He worked as a photographer on over 41 theatrical and feature films, such as “Sophie’s Choice.” Curt began working in film as an assistant to his father Reuben Kaufman, former president of Guild Films and Jayark Films. They produced syndicated TV programs, including “I Spy.” Curt was a judge for documentary video awards at the New York Film Festival and the Cable Ace Awards.

Event co-sponsors (in formation) include the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Facing History and Ourselves, The Hidden Child Foundation/ADL, Interfaith Committee of Remembrance, CUNY Macaulay Honors College, New York Board of Rabbis, Brooklyn Historical Society, Baruch College Jewish Studies Center (CUNY), St. Francis College and Jewish Historical Society of New York.

The public is invited to this free event, sponsored by the City Tech JFSA. For more information, contact JFSA President Albert Sherman at 718-260-5837 or [email protected].

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Notable Brooklynites Will Be Inducted Into First Annual Jewish Hall of Fame

The Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative (BJHI) will induct several national and local leaders into the first annual Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame next week.

The Brooklyn Historical Society will host the Oct. 27 event.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is scheduled to offer the introductory remarks. Emcees are Jake Ehrenreich of “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn” and CNN Correspondent Samuel Burke.

Class of 2015 inductees are Hon Marty Markowitz, past Brooklyn borough president; Rabbi Joseph Potasnik; U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer; Julie Budd; lawyer, jurist and political commentator Alan Dershowitz; Charles Diker; Brownsville native, actor and veteran of Yiddish theater Fyvush Finkel; Holocaust child escapee Henry Foner; former U.S. Rep., City Comptroller and Brooklyn District Attorney Hon. Elizabeth Holtzman; Joseph Shamie; Rabbi Mordechai Tokarsky, co-founder and director of RAJE (Russian American Jewish Experience) in Brooklyn; and Iris Weinshall, vice chancellor at the City University of New York and a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation.

RSVP is required for this event via Sponsorship levels are also available.

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Newly-Dedicated Seymour Askin Clinic Provides Mental Health Services

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services celebrated the dedication of the Seymour Askin Clinic in Brooklyn last week.

The Seymour Askin Clinic, a licensed outpatient mental health clinic for teens and their families in Brooklyn, provides individual and family therapy, psychiatric services, home visits and support groups to address issues of depression, anxiety and substance abuse, among others

The dedication of the Jewish Board’s Seymour Askin Clinic celebrates the generosity of Seymour R. Askin Jr., a longtime trustee, former board president and current honorary Chairman, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the agency for more than 50 years. The clinic will continue a tradition of providing behavioral health services to children, teens, and adults who are facing a wide range of emotional and social challenges.

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 43,000 people of all ages across the five boroughs and at a campus in Westchester.

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Shabbos Project Brings Big Challah Bake to Brooklyn

Jews from Brooklyn, the New York City metropolitan area and around the world will join forces this week in creative activities that promote and highlight the importance of observing Shabbos rest.

They will participate in the Shabbos Project (also being spelled in some areas as the Shabbat Project, according to the movement’s website. The observance of Shabbos (the Sabbath) is set forth in the Fourth Commandment to keep the seventh day of the week holy, and to rest from labors), just as the Book of Genesis narrates that God, after the Creation, rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2-3). Jews observe Shabbos from sundown on Fridays until an hour after sundown on Saturdays, and conclude the Sabbath observance with the Havdalah rite.

The message on this year’s Shabbos Project video trailer reads, “What began in 2013 as a social media challenge in South Africa became a global phenomenon of Jewish unity. The Shabbos Project of 2014 included 465 cities in 65 cities on 5 continents.”

This year’s Shabbos Project is expected to bring in more than a million worldwide.

Here in Brooklyn, the Shabbos Project is sponsoring a community-wide Challah Bake this week in advance of Shabbos. Grand Prospect Hall is expected to host the Challah Bake on Wednesday, October 21 for women and teen girls age 12 and above.

The Challah Bake organizers have already registered this event with the Guinness Book of World Records, as it aspires to produce the world’s largest-ever challah. Events will also be held in Manhattan, Queens, Long Island, Staten Island, New Jersey and Rockland County. For event details see:

Think of The Shabbat Project as a holy global flash mob, a coordinated and choreographed set of events taking place simultaneously in more than 500 cities from Australia to the United Kingdom, from France to Israel, from Russia to the U.S. Also referred to as The Shabbos Project, it promotes observance of one of the most profound and central Jewish traditions—to rest, reflect and rejuvenate—“keeping it together” as a global community. In addition to the synchronized challah baking, other Shabbos Project events will include communal meals, prayer services, concerts and weekend-long celebrations.

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