Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Jan. 22

January 22, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Eric Thomas, First Presbyterian Church’s director of Christian education, preached on each person’s becoming an epiphany for justice and love. Brooklyn Eagle Photo by Francesca N. Tate
Share this:

Interfaith Service Emphasizes Urgency

Of Being ‘Partners in the Struggle’ for Justice

‘We Are the A-ha Moments,’ Says Eric Thomas

Joy rang out at First Presbyterian Church (FPC) on Sunday, Jan. 17 as the congregation hosted the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue for the first of what it hopes will lead to many more collaborations. The occasion was their interfaith observance of the legacy and witness of slain civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday was observed last weekend.

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

The liturgy committee for both congregations created a service of prayer, song and readings that reflected both the Jewish and Christian traditions. Cantor Bruce Ruben of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue chanted the Pitchu Li (from Psalm 118) and the opening invocation was derived from this psalm as well. The Prayer of Confession was adapted from writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s “Towards a Just Society” and Dr. King’s “Where Do We Go from Here?”

Joining in song had a most profound effect on the gathering. Ruben joined FPC Music Minister Amy Neuner in conducting several anthems, including Virgil Thomson’s classic arrangement of “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need,” “Precious Lord” and “We Shall Overcome.”

FPC’s director of Christian education, Eric Thomas, pointed out during his sermon that while “We Shall Overcome” is traditionally appropriate for Dr. King observances, he discerned the need to bring a renewed urgency to the song’s meaning.

“I just didn’t want a trite, empty and meaningless musical moment,” he told the gathering. “I challenged the choir to think about how we can update the verses to our current social climate. As we prepare to sing our updated version, these are the verses we’ve come up with: The first verse is ‘WE SHALL OVERCOME.’ The second verse is ‘We’ll All Live in Peace (Today).’ The third verse is ‘I Can Make a Change (Today).’ The final verse is ‘We Shall Live as One (Today).’”

Thomas said in his sermon, “While this is a beautiful time together, let us not be so anesthetized by happy feelings that we lull ourselves into the false perception that the dream has been fulfilled. We have got a lot of work to do, my friends — work as partners in the struggle, and work in our respective communities to strengthen and deepen our commitments to justice. For example, this Wednesday and the two subsequent Wednesday evenings in our adult education program, we will begin what I’ve called ‘First Pres Talks Race.’ This is an opportunity to have conversations with each other around race, where we can both ask the difficult questions of each other and LISTEN to the difficult answers. The point is to practice here in a safe space for the conversations that have to happen outside with our friends and some of our families and on our social media.”

He then tied in the meaning of the Christian season of Epiphany, and the day’s Epistle reading from I Corinthians 12.

“Paul is telling the assembly at Corinth and us that the Spirit uses our gifts and talents in which to become manifest. We are Epiphanies. We are the a-ha moments!” he said. “As I’ve said here at First Church before, not all of us are supposed to march in protests. For some of us the work of justice can take the form of using our own influence on behalf of others, whether that is in hiring or lending practices; in selection of the Boards we serve on, in sending audition notices to someone kept out of the institutional loop; in making sure that our children or grandchildren have first-hand knowledge of what life was like in the 1960s. For others it might be sharing financial or social resources with non-profits that service marginalized populations. None of us should think there’s nothing we can do towards being a part of the change we want to see in the world. Again, in the words of Dr. King, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

 * * *

Video on Kristallnacht Aims to Teach

Young People to Prevent Repeat of History

Program Will Narrate Story of Survival and Perseverance

Composer, artist and educator Dr. Eugene Marlow has created a new video to commemorate Kristallnacht and his family’s escape and survival. It will be presented at events marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27 at Congregation Mount Sinai, 250 Cadman Plaza West, in Brooklyn Heights.

“Kristallnacht,” the “Night of Broken Glass,” took place on Nov. 9-10, 1938, as Nazi supporters looted and destroyed Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues in a prelude to the Holocaust. “Zikkaron/Kristallnacht (Remembrance of Kristallnacht)” is an original video program that Marlow has created, in which he tells his family’s story during the tragic events of the evening.

Marlow will share the video at Congregation Mount Sinai’s observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day starting at 7 p.m.

Kristallnacht was sparked by the actions of a Jewish teenager named Herschel Grynszpan who entered the German embassy in Paris and assassinated German diplomat Ernst Eduard vom Rath (1909-1938).

The Nazis made vom Rath’s assassination the pretext for “Kristallnacht.” The name “Kristallnacht” comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the properties had their windows smashed.

“Kristallnacht” was just the start of economic and political persecution of Jews. Historians view Kristallacht as part of Nazi Germany’s broader racial policy and the beginning of the Final Solution and the Holocaust. This is the context of the nine-minute, 20-second DVD that Marlow conceived and produced. (It is available from MEII Enterprises).

“Zikkaron/Kristallnacht (Remembrance of Kristallnacht),” however, did not start out as a video. Its genesis was a chapter titled “Kristallnacht” that appears in “The Book of Ruth,” published in 2000 by Marlow’s Aunt Ruth Rack (née Landesberg). Along with his mother Estelle and two other siblings — his Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Bob — she was fortunate to escape from Germany in the spring of 1939, shortly before Germany closed its borders. They all escaped to England before settling in other lands, some as far away as Sydney, Australia.

This chapter inspired Marlow to write a piece of music that his group, The Heritage Ensemble, recorded in 2014 and released on the critically acclaimed album “Mosaica: Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble Reimagines Popular Hebraic Melodies.” The CD is available at

Shortly after the composition’s release, it occurred to Marlow that the track would have even more impact if it were visualized; hence, the current DVD.

Marlow uses this video as an introduction to a talk about his family’s story, during and especially after the November 1938 event. The central concept of the story is that, despite the Nazis’ intentions, his maternal family that escaped to England grew and prospered. The larger Jewish family has also survived in the last 75 years. In fact, Israel has one of the strongest economies in the Middle East, and the world Jewish population is now the same as it was before the Holocaust — a triumph over The Final Solution.

The above-mentioned DVD is more than just a compact telling of the Kristallnacht event of 1938. It is also a valuable tool for informing younger generations — Jewish and otherwise — who are unaware and uninformed of the event that led to the murder of 6 million Jews before and during World War II. “The younger generations don’t know about this, and it just needs to be presented to them,” Marlow told the Brooklyn Eagle. “They need to hear it. It’s an appeal: ‘This is what happened to your grandparents.’ It just needs to be put in front of them. The remembrance of Kristallnacht is part and parcel of the idea of ‘Never Again.’”

Marlow is an award-winning musician (piano), composer/arranger, producer, presenter and educator. He teaches courses in media and culture at Baruch College (since 1988) where he is also the senior curator of the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives series. Marlow also has an extensive background in video/radio production. He has earned two dozen awards for programming excellence from domestic and international competitions. He has published 11 books and close to 400 articles dealing with media and culture. He is currently working on a documentary dealing with jazz in China.

Support for this project was provided by a 2015 PSC-CUNY Award, jointly funded by the Professional Staff Congress and the City University of New York.

* * * 

Popular Catholic Priest Receives Honorary

Doctorate from St. Francis College

The Rev. Edward P. Doran, who has served as pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church and administrator of St. Charles and Assumption parishes since 2008, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters, honoris causa, last week from St. Francis College.

Doran, who already holds an earned Ph.D. in counseling from St. John’s University, was a Marist brother for 21 years before discerning his vocation to the Roman Catholic priesthood. He also holds a bachelor’s in education from Marist College and a master’s of electrical engineering degree from Seton Hall University. He served other parishes around the diocese before being appointed to St. Charles Borromeo.

Doran serves as chaplain of the St. Francis College’s Knights of Columbus chapter. He was instrumental in having St. Charles Borromeo Church host the college’s Baccalaureate Mass and Commencement. He will retire as administrator of St. Charles-Assumption effective Jan. 31. (For related articles, visit

The Rev. Brian Jordan, OFM director of the Campus Ministry at St. Francis College, preached at the Baccalaureate Mass that preceded graduation ceremonies. During the commencement portion, special presentations of diplomas were made to several graduates whose family members have ties to the college, and who had received scholarships from alumni and professors. These included Jacquelina Raja, who received her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Rev. Michael Carrano.

One of the scholarship funds is named for Michael’s brother, Philip A. Carrano, ’70, an alumnus and beloved teacher. Msgr. Alfred LoPinto also presented his nephew, James Rodriguez, with his diploma. James graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. Chad Lectura presented a diploma to his brother Jesse Lectura, who earned his Bachelor of Arts degree. Sr. Joan Gallagher presented a diploma to nephew Patrick McCormack (B.A.). Paul Cronen, ’75, presented a diploma to his son Greg Cronen (B.A.).


Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment