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Faith In Brooklyn for Jan. 12

January 12, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Rev. Nadine Hundertmark, Interim Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of First Presbyterian Church
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Interfaith Services Will Honor Work And Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue and First Presbyterian Church invite the community to join them for an interfaith weekend celebration of the life and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Two services, to be held on Shabbat evening, Friday, Jan. 15, and Sunday morning, Jan. 17, will incorporate music, lessons and readings from both Christian and Jewish traditions to seek new ways to model diversity, faith and inclusiveness in worship and each person’s life.

Worship leaders, choir and cantors from both congregations will participate at each of the services. These include, as of press time, the Rev. Nadine Hundertmark, interim pastor;  Rev. Eric Thomas, director of Christian education; Amy Neuner, minister of music, all of First Presbyterian Church; and, from the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, Rabbi Serge Lippe and Cantor Bruce Ruben.

Shabbat services begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at the synagogue (131 Remsen St.) and at 11 a.m. on Sunday at the church (124 Henry St.).

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An announcement for the joint celebration points out the need: “Nearly 50 years have passed since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, yet we live in a world that continues to be divided by color and creed. Spend an evening or a morning with two of Brooklyn Heights’ congregations as they continue their journey to help bring into reality the world of King’s dream.”

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Author, Entrepreneur, Activist Seth Siegel Speaks On His Book, ‘Let There Be Water’

Presentation is Part of Tu B’Shevat Observance

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue (BHS) offers many programs addressing often-controversial social justice issues, such the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the preservation and distribution of clean, safe water.

Next weekend, in observance of the Jewish New Year of the Trees, the BHS invites writer, businessman and activist Seth M. Siegel to present an informative program on water as a resource for the world. The Jewish New Year of the Trees celebrates agriculture, and in a wider way, the climate and natural resources such as plant-based foods. Customarily, nuts, seeds and fruits are eaten on this festival, which, this year, begins at sundown on Sunday, Jan. 24. Siegel’s talk will take place earlier that afternoon, starting at 4 p.m. The Hebrew name for the festival is Tu B’Shevat, sometimes spelled “Tu’Bishvat,” according to the BHS’s educational administrator, Sam Rosen.

Siegel is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World,” (St. Martin’s Press, September 2015). With 60 percent of its country as desert, Israel has spent decades innovating water conservation efforts while much of the rest of the world is in crisis. “Let There Be Water” provides a model for solving these worldwide water problems. Built on meticulous research, Siegel shows how Israel managed to turn water from a burden to an opportunity and to become an example for other countries to follow. The book is considered to be especially urgent because of the push by some multi-national corporations to privatize the world’s supply of water, and the observation that many impoverished nations — particularly landlocked ones — are excluded from access to clean, potable water.

Siegel’s essays on water and other policy issues have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and in leading publications in Europe and Asia. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Siegel is the co-founder of several companies, including Beanstalk, the world’s leading trademark brand extension company. He is married and lives in New York City.

This program, which runs from 4 to 6 p.m., is free and open to the entire community. The synagogue is at 131 Remsen St.

Program co-sponsors include BHS, Congregation Mount Sinai and the Jewish National Fund. Support is made possible by the Avram Family Fund, which furthers Jewish education and support for Israel.

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The BHS’s Spring 2016 “iEngage” series launches on Wednesday, Jan. 13, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A flier announcing the event invites the community to “Talk, Challenge and Engage,” this time on the topic, “Jewish Values and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” There will be 10 sessions in the series. For cost and start-time, register online via: [email protected].

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New EMJC Concert Series Launches with Latin Jazz

Music at the Center, the new music concert series at the East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC), will kick off 2016 with a concert of Latin Jazz by local Brooklyn artist Benjamin Lapidus and Sonido Isleño on Saturday.

Critics and fans agree that Sonido Isleño is Latin Jazz in the truest sense of the term: Sonido Isleño explores different ways of mixing Jazz and Spanish-Caribbean music. This is the direct result of the New York musicians involved, who are completely bicultural, a benefit of being residents of the largest Caribbean city in the U.S. Active since 1996, Sonido Isleño is the brainchild of EMJC member Dr. Benjamin Lapidus and is composed of master musicians who have performed and recorded with a who’s who of Latin music, including Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto and the Buena Vista Social Club.

EMJC member Hagai Kamil is the lead organizer for the new music series. He is also the owner of a local music school, the Brooklyn Music Studio. Kamil was inspired to start the series at the center last fall.

“My hope is to bring together many different communities in a family-friendly environment to enjoy music,” he said. “We’re starting off with Latin Jazz but will have many other types of music, including classical.”

The program begins on Saturday evening, Jan. 9, at 5:30 pm in the Grand Ballroom of the historic building at 1625 Ocean Ave. Following the concert, there will be an opportunity to meet the artists. Tickets for the event are $25/adults $20/seniors Free/children 13 and under — Available at the door or online now via:

Upcoming concerts will feature Oran Etkin and the Benny Goodman Project on Feb. 6; and Gregory Harrington on Feb. 27.

EMJC is a 91-year-old egalitarian, Conservative congregation in Brooklyn. It is led by Rabbi Matt Carl and Cantor Sam Levine and has an awarding Hebrew School/Arts Based Jewish Education program led by Audrey Korelstein. EMJC provides daily morning and evening egalitarian minyans, weekly Shabbat services, weekly children’s events and an adult education program called NightShul. In addition, the building is open to the public daily for swimming, yoga, basketball and other sports. EMJC is on the National and New York State Registers of Historic Places. For more information, visit or call 718-338-3800.

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New Nightshul Season Begins at East Midwood Jewish Center

NightShul, the growing learning community at the East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC), begins its Spring session on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.  

EMJC invites everyone to be part of this growing community and make friends, learn and have fun. Each evening begins with a wine and cheese hour at 7 p.m. and the learning begins at 8 p.m. The program for the first three weeks – Jan. 14, 21 and 28 – includes “A Glimpse of Jewish History,” NightShul’s first anthology program offering presentations on three largely overlooked aspects of Jewish culture from the 18th century to the present. Curating this mini-series is local historian and EMJC President Toby Sanchez. The topics are “Jews, Liquor and Life in Eastern Europe,” with presenter professor Glenn Dynner; “God Laughed: Sources of Jewish Humor,” with presenters Drs. Hershey and Linda Friedman; and “Warsaw: The Jewish Metropolis,” with presenter Glenn Dynner.

More topics include “Rabbinic Fantasy: Midrash or How the Rabbis Read the Bible,” with EMJC’s Cantor Sam Levine; “From Spare Change to Social Change:  A Taste of Generous Justice,” with Rabbi Regina Sandler Phillips’ and Intermediate Level Ulpan, that Moran Ben Shaul Lantner will teach.

EMJC member Eliot Solomon is NightShul’s lead organizer. He was inspired to create the learning community to provide opportunities to learn, for learners to meet and get to know other members of the community.

“It’s a Jewish learning community, but you don’t have to be Jewish to love learning,” Solomon says. “We welcome those who are curious and open-minded. NightShul’s goal is to engage its learners in the process of learning.”

A month of classes at NightShul is only $35 and includes wine and cheese social hours starting at 7 p.m. and an hour to an hour and a half of learning starting at 8 p.m. NightShul is a continuing program, offering new choices of learning opportunities in February, March and May.  Season subscriptions for all four months are available for $122.50. See for information on future programs and to register.

Nightshul is supported by generous gifts from the Astoria Bank, Sherman’s Flatbush Memorial Chapel, Almac Hardware & Paint Center and by numerous individual donors.

NightShul is one of the many religious, educational and recreational programs offered by the EMJC, an egalitarian, inclusive Conservative congregation at 1625 Ocean Ave. that is open to all. For more information, visit or call 718-338-3800.

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‘Speaking Christian’, Restoring Meaning to Words Is Topic of Book Study Series at St. Ann’s

During Epiphanytide (which began with Three Kings Day on Jan. 6), the parish of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church will host a book study discussion series on “Speaking Christian: Why Christian Words Have Lost Their Meaning and Power and How They Can Be Restored,” by acclaimed Bible scholar Marcus Borg.

Interested participants will convene after the 11:15 a.m. Eucharist has concluded, on Sundays, Jan. 10, 17 and 24 for the discussion.

The publishers of “Speaking Christian” explain that in the book, Borg “argues that the very language Christians use has become dangerously distilled, distorted and disconnected from the beliefs which once underpinned it,” and that “[Borg] calls for a radical change to the language we use to invoke our beliefs — the only remedy that will allow the Church’s words to once again ring with truth, power, and hope.”

Copies of “Speaking Christian” are available for purchase for $15 through the church.

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Workshop Offered for Current and New Contemplative Prayer Group Leaders

A workshop for current and prospective leaders of contemplative prayer groups is being offered next weekend at Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights.

Those who lead, or would like to start leading, contemplative and centering prayer groups are invited for day of discernment and fellowship. Participants will reflect on vocation, examine suggested guidelines for small prayer groups, discuss issues of group dynamics and practice centering prayer. There will be opportunities for sharing discernment questions and concerns as group leaders.

The workshop takes place on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Grace Church Brooklyn Heights, 254 Hicks St. To register or obtain more information, email Lindsay at [email protected]. A suggested donation of $20 per person will cover the cost of lunch.

Boyer, a widely sought spiritual director, is also offering introductory workshops on contemplative prayer, centering prayer and lectio divina, in conjunction with Contemplative Outreach, New York (CONY). In addition to providing a credentialed facilitator for the workshop, CONY can alert the citywide community to these workshops through its website, calendar and mailings. To host an introductory workshop, email [email protected].

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Jewish Board Holds Open House At Bay Ridge Counseling Center

The Jewish Board’s volunteers, friends, staff and supporters recently gathered for an open house reception at the Bay Ridge Counseling Center, a facility that offers mental health services to people of all ages in the Bay Ridge community. The counseling center provides individual, couple, family and group therapy, medication management, psychiatric evaluation and crisis intervention. Special guests included New York Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, New York state Sen. Martin Golden and New York Assemblymember Pam Harris.

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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