Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Feb. 26

February 26, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Professor Kusumita Pedersen. Poster image courtesy of St. Joseph’s College
Share this:

Hinduism Is the Topic of St. Joseph College’s Eighth Annual Lecture in Comparative Religion

St. Francis College Professor Is this Year’s Khatib Chair in Religion at Neighboring School

“Hinduism and the Universality in Religion” is the theme of the eighth annual Dr. Reza Khatib and Georgianna Clifford Khatib Chair in Comparative Religion lecture.

This year’s speaker is Dr. Kusumita P. Pedersen, chair of the Department of Religion at St. Francis College.

“Dr. Pedersen is a highly respected Hindu scholar who is currently teaching a course on ‘The Hindu World’ at St. Joseph’s College as this year’s Khatib Chair in Comparative Religion,” said Dr. Thomas Petriano, chair of the Department of Religious Studies at St. Joseph’s College (SJC). “She is a recognized scholar of the work of Swami Vivekananda and the poetry of Sri Chinimoy, and the SJC community is looking forward to her whi lectures on both campuses.”

Dr. Pedersen has been involved with the international interfaith movement for more than 25 years. Previously, she was executive director of the Project on Religion and Human Rights, joint secretary for religious affairs of the Global Forum of Spiritual and Parliamentary Leaders on Human Survival, and executive director of the Temple of Understanding.

Currently, Pedersen co-chairs the Interfaith Center of New York and is a member of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. Pedersen wrote for “The World’s Religions After September 11” (Praeger, 2008), which highlights the modern changes in the relationships between faiths.

According to materials provided by St. Francis College, the faculty of which she joined in 1995, Pedersen’s interests include global ethics, interreligious dialogue and cooperation, human rights and the relevance of asceticism to ethics, especially environmental ethics. She edited a special issue of CrossCurrents on Asceticism Today. She is also co-editor of “Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action.” She has written articles on environmental ethics, interreligious questions and Buddhism.

Her talk will take place on Tuesday, March 8, at 1 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College Tuohy Hall Auditorium, 245 Clinton Ave.

Dr. Reza Khatib and Mrs. Georgianna Clifford Khatib, ’52, founded the Chair in Comparative Religion, whose purpose is to promote interfaith dialogue, with the study of Islam being an integral part of the initiative. Each spring, through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Khatib, St. Joseph’s College hosts a noted scholar who lectures, leads faculty discussions and teaches a course to students from both campuses.

* * *

Israeli Firefighter and Hazmat Specialist Speaks at Congregation Mount Sinai

Members of the Jewish community in Brooklyn will have the chance to learn about the different challenges that Israeli firefighters deal with as they serve as the backbone of their country’s first-response system.

During a special kiddush following Shabbat morning services on Feb. 27, Congregation Mount Sinai will welcome Uri Chobotaro — fire prevention officer at the Haifa Regional Station, Hazmat specialist and spokesperson for the Hof District Fire Department. He will share his personal stories about what it is like to be on the front lines during some of Israel’s most destructive forest fires.

Chobotaro’s talk will begin at 12:15 p.m. Congregation Mount Sinai is at 250 Cadman Plaza West, in Brooklyn Heights, near Tillary Street.

* * *

Community Program Teaches Mussar Jewish Spiritual Practice

Community members now have the opportunity to learn about the time-honored Jewish spiritual practice of Mussar.

The Mussar Institute, along with co-sponsors Congregation Beth Elohim and the Park Slope Jewish Center, will host an afternoon of Mussar learning and engagement in early March.

Mussar is a Jewish spiritual practice that dates back more than 1,000 years. The goal of Mussar is to make the heart feel what the mind knows, and to unite one’s intellectual understanding with emotions.

During the past 15 years, Mussar practice has been revitalized in the Jewish community through the writings of Dr. Alan Morinis, who will be present for the March event being hosted at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope.

Among those who will be joining Dr. Morinis for teachings and practice sessions will be Rabbi Rachel Timoner of Beth Elohim and Rabbi Cari Carter of the Park Slope Jewish Center. Hanan Harchol, creator of the “Jewishfoodforthought” series, will also give a special presentation.

“Jewishfoodforthought,” according to its website, “is a collection of animated shorts that teach Jewish ethics to adults and teens using thought-provoking and funny conversations between animated versions of Hanan and his Israeli parents” on a variety of themes.

The Mussar program takes place on Sunday, March 6, from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m., and is geared toward novices and seasoned practitioners alike. Admission is $20 per person, free for students with ID, and free child care will be provided. Congregation Beth Elohim is at 277 Garfield Place, near Eighth Avenue.

 * * *

New NightShul Topics Include Friendship, Sex and Death

NightShul, the growing learning community at the East Midwood Jewish Center (EMJC), begins its spring season on Thursday, March 3.

EMJC invites the public to be part of this growing community, 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.

During NightShul’s sessions on March 3, 10 and 17, participants can explore “Friendship or Death: Instructive Stories about Hevruta (study partnerships) in the Talmud;” “Sex and the Rabbis;” or “On Beyond Zombies: Facing Death as Jews.”

For more information, call EMJC or visit

* * *

GuideOne Foundation Offers Scholarships For Students Pursuing Vocations in Ministry

The GuideOne Foundation is offering a scholarship program for individuals who are actively pursuing a future career in ministry.  

Interested students are encouraged to apply now through April 15. Four $2,500 scholarships will be awarded to deserving individuals who meet the following criteria: the student must be a college junior, senior, a graduate-level religious studies student, or an individual in seminary. Applicants must be attending accredited colleges, universities or seminaries within the U.S. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.25 is required. Each applicant must complete and submit an essay, official or unofficial transcript, and one letter of recommendation.

Each applicant’s essay must explain why he/she chose to pursue his/her degree and how he/she plans to use education in a future career in ministry. The essay should be double-spaced and should not exceed 350 words.

More information about the scholarship, including the online application, can be found on under the GuideOne Foundation page. Scholarships will be awarded by the middle of June.

GuideOne employees or children of employees are not eligible. However, agents or children of agents are eligible.

Founded in 1947 and headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, GuideOne Insurance is one of the nation’s largest church insurers, with more than 46,000 church policyholders.  GuideOne also insures private schools and higher education institutions, as well as senior living communities.  In 1999, the company created the GuideOne Center for Risk Management in order to help churches and faith-based organizations safeguard their ministries. This effort was expanded in 2008 with the launch of SafeChurch, the most comprehensive church risk management online resource available.  


Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment