Faith In Brooklyn for Dec. 14
Borough President Honors Longest-Serving Clergy at Interfaith Breakfast
Announces ‘Seeds of Kindness’ Initiative to Empower Most Vulnerable Brooklynites
Brooklyn is a force for healing and empowerment. Faith leaders underscored this point at the Brooklyn Borough President’s Annual Interfaith Breakfast at Borough Hall on Thursday, Dec. 3.
This breakfast highlighted the multifaith diversity of Brooklyn and honored some of the longest-serving clergy leaders in Brooklyn with a “Golden Cornerstone” in recognition of their work and commitment to social justice. The event also showed Brooklyn to be a leader at a time of great national challenge. The breakfast was held a day following the tragic mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., and many of Borough President Eric L. Adams’ comments emphasized the healing power of faith for those who are hurting inside.
“The Annual Interfaith Breakfast brings together different faiths that highlight the rich diversity of religious traditions in the borough of Brooklyn,” said Adams. “Brooklyn is blessed to have spiritual leaders and interfaith chaplains who care and minister to the needs of the community across the borough. This breakfast is not only a celebration of Brooklyn’s multiple faiths, but also of my office’s concept of One Brooklyn.”
“Hurt people, hurt people,” continued Adams. “We must engage all corners of our community to ensure that we are raising emotionally intelligent individuals and that we provide our most at-risk with the resources they need to succeed.”
Accordingly, Adams launched his “Seeds of Kindness” campaign, which is designed to help empower the most vulnerable Brooklynites by helping them reach a level of independence.
Building on the results of a 2015 Harvard report that found that the lack of adequate transportation hinders social mobility, Adams called upon members of faith communities to provide donations of weekly and monthly MetroCards to the “Seeds of Kindness” campaign, in order to ensure that families and individuals can have access to mass transit. Doing so would make certain that they are able to connect to the referral appointments, which are important steps to obtaining housing, employment and needed benefits in an effort to improve their social mobility and reduce poverty in the borough.
“These generous donations of MetroCards can be the gift that creates new opportunities, such as connecting people to seasonal employment during the holidays and beyond. Access to affordable transit is one of the most certain ways to improve social mobility,” said Veronica Vanterpool, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit policy watchdog.
Adams honored clergy from each of the three Abrahamic faiths who have served their communities and the wider society for the longest time. Saluting their work in ensuring the spiritual, social and physical well-being of the residents of Brooklyn, Adams presented each of the honorees with an individually inscribed “Golden Cornerstone.”
The honorees were Rev. Herbert Daughtry, who has served House of the Lord Church and has been active in the wider faith community since 1958; Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, who has served Congregation Mount Sinai since 1972 in addition to his work as a Fire Department chaplain and executive officer of the New York Board of Rabbis; Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman, who has served Union Temple of Brooklyn since 1992; Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who has served his community since 1976; and Overseer Dorothy Wright, who could not be present on Thursday morning and who has led her faith community for 60 years. The Rev. Anne Kansfield, Rabbi Potasnik’s FDNY chaplain colleague, accepted the Cornerstone award on his behalf.
“The ‘Golden Cornerstones’ honor those members who have become pillars of our faith traditions,” said Adams. “I congratulate them all on their longevity, sustainability and commitment to improving the body, mind and soul of their congregations and communities.”
Another highlight was the presence of the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir, whose members sang at several points during the pre-buffet ceremony. “We, the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir, were indeed blessed by being included in BP Adams’ Annual Interfaith Breakfast on Dec. 3,” said Frank A. Haye, artistic director and founder of The Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir. “We believe the power of music transcends our cultural, political, financial and religious differences to expose that which we truly share: faith, hope and love.”
Artist Vishavjit Singh read the famous Hafiz poem “I Have Learned So Much.” Singh was introduced as the “first and only turbaned/bearded editorial cartoonist in the U.S.” His creative spark began in the post 9/11 tragedy when he viewed a work by a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist. Singh’s work emphasizes diversity and cross-cultural understanding.
The event was organized with key support from Con Edison, Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Outback Steakhouse, the Council of Peoples Organization (COPO) and the Turkish-American Eyup Sultan Cultural Center.
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Menorah Lighting at Borough Hall Draws Joyful Crowd
Celebrating light, hope and the importance of servant-hood, Brooklyn’s Jewish communities gathered for the annual Menorah Lighting in front of the Supreme Court building near Brooklyn Borough Hall on Monday, Dec. 7, the second night of Hanukkah.
Chabad-Lubavitch and Congregation B’nai Avraham, Brooklyn Heights’ Orthodox synagogue, sponsored the lighting of the Jacob J. Hecht Memorial, and led the ceremony, with participation from Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna.
Rabbi Aaron Raskin, spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Avraham, told the crowd of families that the chamash light — the menorah’s center lamp — sits higher than the rest.
“That center light represents servanthood,” he explained. “And servanthood stands higher.”
As a public servant, Reyna was invited to light the chamash candle this year, standing in a cherry picker with Con Edison staff who made sure everything was done safely. Rabbi Raskin then lit the first two candles, going from right to left.
Other elected officials, including New York state Assemblymember Helene Weinstein, spoke, offering prayers of hope and healing for victims of recent terror attacks here in the U.S. and other parts of the world, including Israel.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams released a statement as the first night of Hanukkah began at sundown on Sunday, Dec. 6.
“With the kindling of the menorah, Brooklyn’s Jewish community ushers in the joyous festival of Hanukkah, an eight-day commemoration recounting the ancient miracle of the oil. While the ‘Festival of Lights’ is rooted in traditions established many millennia ago, its contemporary message is a fitting reminder that we must also remain vigilant against those who wish to do harm to others, and of how, with great resolve, goodness always triumphs over evil,” he said.
“As we light the first candle, and gather with our loved ones to participate in the festival’s happy traditions, may the menorah’s flickering glow serve as an eternal beacon for peace and understanding across the globe. It is a clarion call to add more light into our world, and a constant reminder to be thankful for all of life’s miracles, big and small. I wish all the Jewish residents of Brooklyn a chag sameach, and meaningful time spent together with family and friends.”
Following the ceremony, everyone was invited in for the traditional foods of Hanukkah, including latkes, cookies and hot beverages. The Kiddie Korner chorus also sang.
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City at Large:
‘The Golden Bride’ Revival Opens at Museum of Jewish Heritage
Just in time for Hanukkah.
Last week, the much-anticipated revival of the Roaring ’20s smash hit of the Second Avenue Yiddish Theater, “The Golden Bride” (“Di Goldene Kale”), opened to previews at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. And the audience roared back its approval!
The first staged performance of the show that captivated New York City audiences nearly a century ago has been reimagined for the 21st Century theatergoer. The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene brings a mostly young, multitalented, multicultural cast, a sumptuous score by Joseph Rumshinsky, creative choreography, glorious costumes and brilliant staging. And Brooklyn is represented in the cast. Adam Kaster, Jeremy Weiss and Bruce Rebold are among those who call Brooklyn home — either in the past or present.
In this operetta, Goldele, a poor girl from the shtetl, inherits a fortune from her estranged father and embarks on a mission to find both her long-lost mother and her husband-to-be. Joseph Rumshinsky’s original score is performed by a full orchestra in this lavish production.
A gala performance on Dec. 8, as this column went to press, was set to honor David and Sylvia Steiner. As chair of Steiner Equities Group, LLC. and Steiner Building NYC, LLC., David Steiner has a long and distinguished history as a real estate developer, with more than 60 years of experience in the industry. He has served as the national president of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is the primary voice for Israel supporters in U.S. politics. He also serves as a director of the National Yiddish Book Center and a trustee for the Actors Fund of America. He is a dedicated community and political activist with a particular interest in U.S.-Israel relations. Sylvia Steiner is also a board member of New York Stage and Film as well as a Broadway producer.
Since 1915, the award-winning National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene [NYTF] has presented a window into the world of Jewish culture by engaging, educating and igniting the imaginations of generations of theatergoers. It is the longest consecutively producing Yiddish theatre company in the world, NYC’s longest consecutively producing performing arts company, and America’s sole-surviving professional Yiddish theatre.
NYTF presents plays, musicals, concerts, literary events and workshops in English, Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew and Russian, with English and Russian supertitles accompanying most performances. Its mission is to celebrate the Jewish experience through the performing arts and to transmit a rich cultural legacy in exciting new ways.
The mission of the Museum of Jewish Heritage (just across the river from Brooklyn, in Battery Park) is to educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries — before, during, and after the Holocaust.
Multiple perspectives on modern Jewish history, life and culture are presented in the museum’s unique Core Exhibition and award-winning special exhibitions.
“The Golden Bride” plays through Jan. 3. For performance schedule and ticket prices, visit the website of the Museum of Jewish Heritage: www.mjhnyc.org/calendar.html#kale.
The museum’s mission extends across the country and the world with Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) and initiatives with affiliate organizations: the Auschwitz Jewish Center and JewishGen.
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Procession Through Brooklyn Will Celebrate Mexican Heritage
Message of Guadalupe Feast Is Much-Needed, Bishop DiMarzio Tells Brooklyn Catholics
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn will celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe starting at noon this Saturday with Mass and a procession to celebrate the Mexican community’s faith and contribution to the borough.
The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn, will celebrate Mass for this feast. Concelebrants will be Auxiliary Bishops James Massa and Octavio Cisneros, who will preach the homily in Spanish. The liturgy will take place at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, 856 Pacific St., on Saturday, Dec. 12.
This year’s diocesan pilgrimage “Light of Christ” represents the third time that Catholics from Brooklyn and Queens will gather together to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. With 36 participating parishes, the initial Mass is expected to receive nearly 2,000 devotes. The pilgrims represent, in its vast majority, the Mexican Catholic population of Brooklyn and Queens. According to the 2015 National Census, 200,000 Mexicans reside in Brooklyn and Queens.
Immediately following the Mass (around 1 p.m.) the bishops will bless and light up the torches of the faithful who will then make their ways to the different participating parishes throughout Brooklyn and Queens. Singing, praying and spreading messages of hope, the pilgrims will carry the torches back to their parishes in a route stretching to Williamsburg in northern Brooklyn, Coney Island in southern part of the borough, and eastbound out to Jamaica in Queens.
“The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Mexico and the Americas, commemorates the apparition of the blessed Virgin Mary as an indigenous woman to a poor peasant in Mexico City. Her apparition came at a time when Mexican natives were being persecuted by the conquistadors. Unfortunately, we still witness persecution in our times, with many still facing racial division. By celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe we bring the light of Christ into our communities and share the faith that unites us all,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
The New Evangelization Television (NET TV) will provide live coverage of the Mass, which will also be live streamed on www.netny.tv. 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.
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