Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Dec. 8

December 8, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Civil rights attorney Sanford Rubenstein (center, holding Torah scroll) and Rabbi Aaron Raskin of Congregation B’nai Avraham (walking next to Mr. Rubenstein) parade down Atlantic Avenue from the new Brooklyn Heights Jewish Academy Photo credit: Amit Levi/COL Live

Torah Dedication Also Salutes Opening of New Jewish Academy

Contributed by Yankel Raskin, Congregation B’nai Avraham

Civil rights attorney Sanford Rubenstein dedicated a new Torah, further bonding the recently opened Brooklyn Heights Jewish Academy and Congregation B’nai Avraham, the Heights’ Orthodox synagogue. The celebration took place on Sunday, Nov. 22.

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The Jewish online COL/Community News Service Live reports that the ceremony welcoming the Torah began with the sofer (scribe) finishing the last three verses of the Torah at the new Brooklyn Heights Jewish Academy,  81 Atlantic Ave.

Rubenstein, then carried the scrolls under a chuppah, or covering held by four posts, that members of the congregation joyously held up. Meanwhile, other congregants marched and danced in the street to traditional Jewish music to the B’nai Avraham synagogue at 117 Remsen St.

Rabbi Aaron Raskin, spiritual leader of B’nai Avraham, told participants, “The welcoming of a new Torah is tantamount to hearing the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.”

Rubenstein said, “Not only was it an honor to donate the new Torah in memory of my parents, but it was symbolic to carry it from the new Brooklyn Heights Jewish Academy, which will provide a Jewish education for youngsters from kindergarten to 12th grade, ensuring the continuity of the Torah.”

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Mount Zion Church ‘Serves the Servers’ on Thanksgiving

Program Benefiting ER Hospital Staff Shows Partnership Among Clergy, Community

Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel must often sacrifice holiday family gatherings for the sake of their profession. Thanks to a program called “Serving the Servers,” health professionals – particularly those in emergency rooms around Brooklyn – still received Thanksgiving joys.

“Serving the Servers” brings hot meals to doctors, nurses and emergency room staff members around Brooklyn on Thanksgiving Day. Over the past seven years, the Historic Mt. Zion Church of God 7th Day has partnered with elected officials, local clergy and community organizations to bring meals on Thanksgiving Day to local medical facilities through this unique program.

Mt. Zion Church and community partners lighten the day by bringing a warm, fresh and tasty meal to the emergency room staffers of SUNY Downstate Medical, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Kings County Hospital, Interfaith Medical Center and Brookdale hospitals. These medical centers span a large travel path for the “Serving the Servers” volunteers. Interfaith Medical straddles Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights. Kingsbrook, SUNY Downstate and Kings County Hospital are in East Flatbush/Wingate. Brookdale Hospital is in Brownsville/ East New York.

“Thanksgiving Day is not only a day to receive, but a day to give back,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “‘Serving the Servers’ highlights the important work of our health care professionals, and I thank these great organizations for supporting the men and women who are away from their loved ones on Thanksgiving to provide high-quality health care for those that are ill and in need. “

New York state Sen. Kevin Parker noted, “Somehow we don’t pay as much attention to the hospital staff who forego time with their families to tend to patients during the holidays. My office is proud to have provided turkeys to Mt. Zion for the past three years to ensure these selfless healthcare professionals enjoy the symbolic meal on Thanksgiving Day.”

Pastor Gilford Monrose emphasized, “It is our way of saying thank you, to express our appreciation for the workers in the medical facilities who have served our communities tirelessly and unselfishly throughout the year.”

“As we pause to give thanks this holiday season, let us honor those individuals who continue their work on behalf our community,” said U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke. “On behalf of the people of the Ninth Congressional District of New York, I commend the ‘Serving the Servers’ program for its many contributions to our families and children … Our acts define our character, and those who are devoted to service have earned not only our recognition, but also our gratitude. I salute those who tirelessly staff our hospitals, emergency response units and other public services we depend on during this holiday season.”

Pastor Monrose said that, in addition to bringing the meal, the volunteers gave turkeys away to about 20 families.

Among the participating faith-based organizations were: Mt. Zion Church of God 7th Day Church of God; the Church of God 7th Day Pastor’s Network; the 67th Precinct Clergy Council; Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH); the Saint Lucia Mother’s Day Committee; Saint Lucia La Rose Association; Saint Lucia American Progressive League; Saint Lucia Folklore Association; Saint Lucia House Foundation; Saint Lucia United Association of NY; Saint Lucia National Day Committee; and Saint Lucia Consulate Office NY.

Dennery Junior Secondary School, Cormesse, Flora Care and Brooklyn Center for Quality Life also participated.

In addition to the borough president, U.S. Rep. Clarke and Sen. Parker, elected leaders who volunteered included state Sen. Jesse Hamilton and city Councilmembers Jumaane D. Williams and Mathieu Eugene.

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Plymouth Church Honors a Beloved Historian as She Moves to Delaware

She instilled a love of history into a young boy who said he hated the subject.

Lois Rosebrooks, Plymouth Church’s longtime director of History Ministry Services, brings into the tours she gives her enthusiasm for the history of the landmark meeting house that famed abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher founded. She tells the stories of the Underground Railroad that went through Plymouth, helping slaves gain their freedom. She tells about President Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Plymouth.

And that flair caught the attention of a little boy who later told her he hated history until he met her. She recounted the story of meeting the youngster at a reception held recently in her honor, and to bid her farewell as she moves to Delaware next month.

The Plymouth Reception Room became a reunion hall as past members also returned to salute her. Among them was Peter Stoltzfus-Berton, past minister of music and choir director, as Rosebrooks is a longtime chorister and alto soloist.

Plymouth member Jacque Jones presented Rosebrooks with a print engraving of the church that had been published in Harper’s Magazine. She explained that “the engraving depicts Plymouth Church from the Orange street side. When it was published, on the same page there were two additional engravings, one of the Plymouth Organ and one of Beecher’s church in Indiana —those were mounted on the back of the frame. This seemed particularly appropriate since Lois was Plymouth’s historian for so long.”

In addition to her work at Plymouth, Rosebrooks has served as a valuable resource to the American Guild of Organists-Brooklyn Chapter, which named her as its “Person of the Year” in 2012.

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A 40-Year Heights Tradition, UniFair Ushers in Christmas At First Unitarian Church

UniFair, First Unitarian’s annual holiday fair, rummage and bake sale, will return to the Brooklyn Heights church on Saturday, Dec. 5.  The fair has been a mainstay of the Brooklyn Heights community for nearly 40 years, according to Connie Newsom, a longtime member of the congregation.

Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons, senior minister, says, “Our mission calls upon us to ‘work for social justice and stewardship of the earth.’ UniFair is a way for us to encourage the community to reuse and recycle items that might end up in landfills and provide high quality goods to people in need at a low cost.”

“Imagine a stoop sale for 300 families!” says Lee Pardee, First Unitarian’s board president and one of this year’s organizers. Items for sale include clothing for both children and adults, housewares, jewelry, baked goods, wreaths, media and even a restaurant serving a delicious vegan lunch made with sustainable, organic ingredients.  Carolers will entertain throughout the day.  There is no entry fee.  All are welcome to shop and eat.

All unsold items will be donated to Goodwill. Half of the proceeds above $10,000 will be donated to an organization that works for a sustainable planet.

The First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn has been worshipping in Brooklyn Heights since 1833 and in its historic Gothic Revival sanctuary since 1844. The congregation is affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and is one of seven Unitarian Universalist Congregations in New York City.  The congregation promotes liberal religious thought, radical inclusion and social justice.  Worship services are held on Sundays at 11 a.m. and include a comprehensive religious education program for children and youth.

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Churches Offer Contemplative Music and Prayer Series For Advent

Paul Richard Olson, organist and choirmaster at Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights, offers an Advent Weekly Organ Recital series during this liturgical season of expectation.

The recitals run through Dec. 22 from 12:30 to 1 p.m., presenting half-hours of seasonal organ music on the church’s Austin instrument.

Guest organist Craig Whitney, who is also the author of “All the Stops: The Glorious Pipe Organ and Its American Masters,” and the 2011 Person of the Year of the American Guild of Organists-Brooklyn Chapter, will play on Dec. 22. A free-will offering will be received each week to benefit the Organ Fund. Grace Church is on Hicks Street between Grace Court and Joralemon Street.

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All Saints Episcopal Church in Park Slope wants to help ease the stress that comes with the holidays with a reminder that Advent and Christmas are about welcoming God into one’s life.

Centering Prayer and Compline is offered on Mondays during Advent through Dec. 21. The night service of Compline, followed by Centering (contemplative, silent) Prayer, runs from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Each week will introduce a different technique in this ancient Christian form of meditation. Adam Bucko, a leader and expert in Center Prayer, will facilitate.

All Saints Church is at Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street in Park Slope, across the street from New York Methodist Hospital.

Moreover, All Saints Church will host an Evensong service, featuring the Grace Chorale of Brooklyn. Bring a friend and be sure to stick around for a community meal down in the undercroft at 6 p.m.; both take place on Dec. 13, the third Sunday of Advent.

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Advent and Christmas Outreach Opportunities

Coat Drive Continues, “Toys for Joy” Begins

The outreach team at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church is spearheading the parish’s contribution to the New York Cares Coat Drive. New and gently used coats may be donated through Sunday, Dec. 6.

For the next three weeks, St. Ann’s Church will also be collecting gifts for the Toys for Joy holiday toy drive for young people living in shelters and temporary homes. This project is another collaboration between the parish and multiservice nonprofit CAMBA, a partner in the ongoing Sandwich Sundays program. This program reaches children ranging from newborn to 18 years of age. For children 14 and older, CAMBA suggests donations of new hats, scarves and gloves.

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Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights is supporting three organizations as part of its Christmas outreach: Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services, CHIPS (Community Help in Park Slope) and Iraqi and Syrian Refugees (Collateral Repair Project). The parish’s Stroller Group is collecting toys and other children’s items for Sheltering Arms at their Christmas party on Dec. 6.

CHIPS provides a hot meal, food and other services to whoever shows up at their center. The Collateral Repair Project provides emergency assistance to Iraqi and Syrian refugees in Amman, Jordan. 


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