Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Nov. 25

November 25, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Cantor Bruce Ruben of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue chants Psalm 100. Brooklyn Eagle Photo by Francesca N. Tate
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Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Emphasizes The Joys of Gratitude and Hospitality

Placing trust in God, gratitude, offering hospitality and sitting at table together were the themes of the Brooklyn Heights Clergy Association’s first annual Thanksgiving Interfaith Service on Sunday, Nov. 22. Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral hosted the evening service.

The Maronites are an Eastern Rite branch of the Catholic Church, with an ethnic heritage that is historically Lebanese and Syrian. However, a growing number of Catholics from other ethnic backgrounds are also finding great beauty in the Maronite Church and its liturgies.

Clergy and members of several neighborhood houses of worship participated, including the host cathedral, Plymouth Church, the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, First Presbyterian Church and the Brooklyn Oratory. This year’s co-presidents were Rabbi Seth Wax of Congregation Mount Sinai and the Rev. Dr. Jane Huber, interim associate pastor of Plymouth Church. The Plymouth Church Chorale, under the direction of music director Bruce Oelschlager, sang works by René Clausen and a Celtic Blessing by John Rutter. Rev. Joel Warden of the Brooklyn Oratory at St. Boniface Church, who is also an accomplished musician and choral director, was the organist on Sunday.

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

Imam Abdallah Allam chanted a reading from the Quran.

Cantor Bruce Ruben of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue chanted Psalm 100 in Hebrew and recited the English translation.

Pastor Nadine Hundertmark, interim pastor of First Presbyterian Church, remarked that she hopes this service, which gathers Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and people of other faiths, becomes an annual neighborhood tradition. She provided background and insights on some of history’s oldest hymns — Psalm 100 (O Be Joyful Unto the Lord), “We Gather Together” and “Old One Hundredth” — to the words “All People Who On Earth Do Dwell.” This hymn — whose tune name is Old One Hundredth — is different from Psalm 100. It was originally set to music by 16th-century French composer Louis Bourgeois and with the poetry later set by a 17th-century refugee named William Kethe.

The 100th Psalm “tells us profoundly that we are more than our lives, our education, our family, more than our children, our parents; more than our religion, our race, our ethnic background,” said Hundertmark. “At the core of our being is the truth that we belong to God,” she said, adding that service to God is our “most authentically human act.”

The favorite, time-honored foods of Thanksgiving — “hooray for the pumpkin pie” — is a gift of the fruit of the abundance of the earth and the work of human hands.

Hundertmark addressed the question of how one can be thankful for one’s bounty when so many others, including oneself, might be suffering. She encouraged the gathering to consider thankfulness, mercy and hospitality as counter-actions, antidotes to suffering and ways to bring healing to a broken world.

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CHiPS Ministry, With New Name, Serves Hundreds of People Daily

Community Help in Park Slope Operates Three-Fold Mission

One way in which the Brooklyn Heights Clergy Association and the interfaith community seek to provide healing to brokenness is to address hunger and homelessness. Proceeds from the collection at the Interfaith Thanksgiving (see above story) went toward what Brooklynites affectionately call “CHiPS.”

CHiPS is still the acronym for what was called “Christian Help in Park Slope,” a service agency that provides meals and a food pantry for the needy, and a residence for unwed mothers and their babies. In many cases, these women and children are fleeing abusive situations. The organization is now named “Community Help in Park Slope” as the donor and volunteer base has expanded.

Franklin Stone, a CHiPS board member and member of Grace Church, explained that this organization was renamed earlier this year “in recognition of the diversity of the volunteers and the community that it is serving.”

CHiPS has a three-part mission: operating a food pantry for people to obtain canned foods and staples, serving hot meals during the midday, and a residence for single mothers and their babies.

“About 250 people are served during their lunchtime crowd; and CHiPS gives them bagged dinners to take home, so that many people are getting all of their meals for the day from CHiPS,” said Stone.

A generous donation from a Plymouth Church family has also enabled CHiPS to provide doughnuts and coffee for those who come around in the morning, thus providing added camaraderie around the table.

The residence provides nine apartments for young mothers who are often escaping abusive situation or are trying to overcome great adversity. A pediatric nurse also lives on the premises, training them to care of their children. Skills and jobs training are also provided.

“CHiPS does more with less than any other organization I’ve ever been affiliated with,” said Stone. “They use what would otherwise be thrown away: 80 percent from the Park Slope Food Co-Op and 20 percent from other grocery outlets. The food is turned into stews and soups. Everything is made from scratch — no pre-packaged food. And it’s a great place to volunteer.”

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Third Grade Class Visits CHiPS Kitchen To Learn How Volunteers Feed the Hungry

Contributed by Steph London

Third-grader London has been a junior ambassador for CHiPs, known now as Community Help in Park Slope. Whenever he can, London talks about the CHiPs charity and how people can help the hungry working through this organization. This year, London spoke to his teacher Mrs. Arico about CHiPS. London’s testimony moved her so much that she asked all the other third grade classes in their school if they would be interested in visiting CHiPs too. The students visited the soup kitchen and saw them in action. The kids learned about how to help others in the community and even brought donations such as canned foods, juice boxes, cookies and money to help.

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Diocesan Catholic Scouts Will Welcome Annual Peace Light Arrival from Austria

The Catholic Committee on Scouting of the Diocese of Brooklyn will participate in the U.S. Arrival Ceremony of Reception and First Passing of the Peace Light Flame.  

The event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Participants will be coming from across America and are posting Peace Light distribution routes from coast to coast and to Canada and Mexico.

The Peace Light Program is also being tracked as part of the World Scouting Messengers of Peace Program and on the site.

The 2 p.m. gathering and welcome will take place at the Our Lady of the Skies Catholic Chapel, Terminal 4, Upper Level, of John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The Peace Light flame is scheduled to arrive at JFK at 2:45 p.m. The ceremony will start at around 3 p.m. when the flight from Vienna, Austria and its VIP crew members clear customs and are escorted to Terminal 4.

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Kings Bay Y Network Will Host Two Chanukah Extravaganzas

The Kings Bay Y will hold its annual Chanukah Extravaganza on Sunday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its main building at 3495 Nostrand Ave. (between Avenues U and V).

The celebration, typically the largest Chanukah event in Sheepshead Bay, will feature a fun-filled array of activities throughout the building from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Rides, a symbolic menorah-lighting ceremony and dancing in the gym will begin at 12:30.

The event is free and open to the public. Community leaders and local businesses will be participating.  

“The Festival of Lights is all about celebration and community,” said Leonard Petlakh, executive director of the Kings Bay Y. “This event gives families the opportunity to come together as a community, have a great afternoon and see what the Kings Bay Y has to offer.”

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Northward across the borough, the Kings Bay Y at North Williamsburg invites the community to help celebrate Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, also on Sunday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with music, arts and crafts, face-painting and much more.

The Y is located at 14 Hope St. (between Havemeyer and Roebling streets). The event is free and open to the public. Most of the activities are geared toward preschoolers.

This particular event will feature music with the Y’s beloved music man Adam Blotner, more singing with Tkiya: The Jewish Community Music School, and face-painting with Kristen Mahoney ( Food and refreshments will be available for everyone.

Special guest Rabbi Andy Bachman (who celebrated with the Y during Rosh Hashanah) will be joining the Kings Bay Y again for this wonderful event.

To RSVP, visit

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Catholic NET-TV Premieres Documentary on NYC Homeless

On Tuesday, Nov. 24, as the “Faith in Brooklyn” column went to press, New Evangelization Television (NET TV) was set to premiere its original production, “Shelter in the City,” a 90-minute eye-opening documentary on homelessness in the New York metropolitan area.

In recent years, the number of New Yorkers without a home has reached an all-time high. According to the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, as of September 2015 there were 59,305 homeless people in the city, the highest level recorded since the Great Depression.

“Why does the wealthiest city in the world have so many people living on the streets? What can we do to help them? These are questions I asked myself, which prompted the production of ‘Shelter in the City,’” said Terence Donnellan, director and producer of NET TV’s new documentary.

“Shelter in the City” touches upon the social aspect of homelessness. It shares the testimony of a parent whose experience hits close to home, and provides insights from experts who share their knowledge, experience and perspective. Featured interviews include advocate for the homeless and Executive Director of Care for the Homeless Bobby Watts, Executive Director of NYC Rescue Mission Craig Mayes and Economist and Professor at St. John’s University Charles Clark.

The documentary also features organizations that share the mission to strengthen the fabric of communities by offering resources to those hit by the reality of homelessness in NYC. These include Covenant House, Fortune Society and Providence House.

NET TV is a cable network featuring news and information with a Catholic point of view and is available in the New York area on Time Warner Cable, Channel 97, Cablevision, Channel 30, and nationally on Verizon FIOS on Demand. Viewers can also watch the programming live on NET TV’s website at

Follow this link to watch the trailer of “Shelter in the City”: Encores will broadcast on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, at 9 p.m. ET and Saturday, Nov. 28, at 6:30 p.m. ET. 

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