Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for March 31

March 31, 2016 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Heritage Ensemble, as pictured during their November 1, 2014 concert at the Brooklyn Public Library. Brooklyn Eagle Photo by Francesca N. Tate
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The Heritage Ensemble Returns In Concert to Congregation Mt. Sinai

Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble marries a variety of musical cultures.

Its founder, Dr. Eugene Marlow, is a composer, musician and educator whose Brooklyn home base reflects the bridges he builds between peoples.

Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble will present its next local concert on Sunday, April 10 at Congregation Mount Sinai in Brooklyn Heights. The theme will reflect the title of the Ensemble’s first album in 2006, “Making the Music Our Own.”

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

Dr. Marlow told the Brooklyn Heights Press, “My arrangements of Hebraic melodies in various jazz, Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian styles is my way of connecting with my Jewish heritage.”

Indeed, the Heritage Ensemble’s passion and specialty is giving Hebrew melodies a new twist. Marlow was born into a heritage that is both multinational (European and Russian) and musical. His father was a well-known violinist, violist and painter who introduced his young son to music — in particular, Latin jazz.

After graduating from the High School of Performing Arts, where he experienced “a real mix of cultures,” young Marlow worked at the United Nations for six months and traveled extensively before he began college.

The Heritage Ensemble performs regularly at the Nyorican Poets Café on the Lower East Side and has given concerts at Congregation Mount Sinai, the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and the BAMCafé.

The April 10 concert will feature regulars Grammy Award nominee Bobby Sanabria on drums, Michael Hashim on saxophones, Frank Wagner on bass and Matthew Gonzalez on percussion. Marlow leads and plays the keyboards.

The concert begins at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25; $10 for students. Sponsorship levels are also available. To purchase tickets, call Congregation Mount Sinai (250 Cadman Plaza West) at 718-875-9124, or visit

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World-Renowned Klezmer Violinist Headlines ‘Yellow Ticket’ Screening

Imagine the life of a young medical student in Tzarist Russia who cannot practice her faith openly. Add to that the complication of having to create a double life for yourself in a brothel.

The 1918 Pola Negri silent movie “The Yellow Ticket” tells the story of a young Jewish woman from one of the shtetls in Poland who must endure this hardship to attain her goal of being a doctor. The film will be shown on Saturday evening, April 9, thanks to the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue’s Sadie and Noah Feldman Fund.

This film viewing adds a special component — live klezmer accompaniment by Alicia Svigals and Marilyn Lerner. Svigals composed the music for the film.

Svigals is the recipient of the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s 2013 New Jewish Culture Network commission for her new score to “The Yellow Ticket.” She is currently touring this multimedia event, in which she and pianist Lerner perform live screenings of the film.

Considered the world’s leading klezmer fiddler, Svigals is a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, which she co-led for 17 years. Also a composer, she was selected to be a 2014 MacDowell fellow. Fellow musician and arts luminaries for whom Svigals has played and composed include violinist Itzhak Perlman, the Kronos Quartet, playwrights Tony Kushner and Eve Ensler, the late poet Allen Ginsburg, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and the late singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman.

Jazz pianist Lerner’s love for Klezmer-based music is reflected in her past work with the Flying Bulgars, a klezmer band of international renown. She is also a member of the Toronto-based Klezmer band From Both Ends of the Earth.

“The Yellow Ticket” program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, 131 Remsen St. Congregation Beth Elohim is a co-sponsor of the event.

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One-Day Hebrew Crash Course Offered at Heights Synagogue

Learn to read Hebrew in a day!

Rabbi Sue Oren is teaching a day-long intensive course on the Hebrew alef-bet (alphabet) on Sunday, April 10.

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue will host the course, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The immersion course is ideal for adults who are seeking an introduction to reading Hebrew, as well as for those who wish to refresh rusty skills.

The $75 fee includes materials. Register via email at [email protected].

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Oils from Maronite Chrism Liturgy Are Carried Throughout Eparchy, Spanning the East Coast

Submitted by Salma Vahdat, Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral

Our Maronite Church is rich in its holy traditions and we were, once again, gathered together just before Holy Week to witness the Chrism Liturgy. It is normally celebrated on Holy Thursday; however, considering the [geographic] expanse of our Eparchy, the rite is celebrated in advance so that the majority of priests may travel to attend and take back the sacred oils with them to their parishes and celebrate Holy Week with their own communities.

According to the Eparchy’s website, its geographic stretch spans from Maine to Florida.

Bishop Gregory Mansour, bishop of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn; Chorbishop Michael Thomas, vicar general of the Eparchy; and Msgr. James Root, rector of the Cathedral; concelebrated the Liturgy and Chrism Rite. Assisting them were deacons, sub-deacons and the visiting clergy.

The Chrism Liturgy is an ancient rite within the church by which the Sacred Oils are renewed and blessed each year for use in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, holy orders, anointing the sick and for consecrating a new church. Olive oil has been used throughout history for many purposes. We read in sacred texts of the anointing of the sick, of blessing the faithful and even the anointing of Jesus. The old oils (from previous years) are then used in lighting lamps within the church where possible. If their usefulness has expired, the old oils can also be buried in undisturbed ground.

Through the Oil of the Catechumens, those anointed at baptism and confirmation will share in the mission of Christ. Through the Oil of the Sick one receives God’s grace and healing. Through the Chrism, priest and bishop at ordination receive God’s strength and wisdom to discharge the duties of his vocation. The Chrism is also mixed with the water at baptism and in the consecration of churches, chapels and baptismal fonts.

The Chrism Liturgy reminds us of our oneness in Christ through baptism and its holy anointing. This Liturgy is a solemn prelude to Holy Week and the promise of the resurrection.

Following the Liturgy, those in attendance were invited to share a buffet lunch in the cathedral’s social hall. This gave an opportunity for our parishioners to greet the visiting clergy before they began their trek back to their own communities.

— Salma Vahdat is a parishioner of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral

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Repair the World Partners With HIAS for Passover Initiative Volunteer Organization Has Brooklyn Presence in Crown Heights

Addressing one of the world’s most urgent issues through its Passover Initiative of 2016, Repair the World, in partnership with HIAS, has launched #SupportforRefugees.

Repair the World places young Jewish adults who have completed college into fellowships where they do volunteer work within their respective communities. Last May, Repair the World-NYC opened a site in Crown Heights. In addition to their work, the volunteers gather regularly for Shabbat meals and other activities such as exhibits and discussions.

This year, from April 15-30, Repair the World will direct #SupportforRefugees to build awareness, foster dialogue, and inspire action to provide sorely needed support to newly resettled refugees. As part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s ongoing Turn The Tables initiative also offers resources to facilitate substantive questions and dialogue on this issue within a Jewish framework during a Seder or Shabbat dinner. They work in partnership with HIAS, (formerly Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which was founded in 1881 to assist those fleeing the pogroms throughout Europe and Russia and helps those fleeing persecution.

“We know so many young adults who want to publicly offer their support and find meaningful opportunities to work with refugees as they finish one part of their difficult journey and begin their transition into local communities,” says David Eisner, president and CEO of Repair the World. “Together with HIAS, we can connect young adults to service opportunities with excellent local organizations that can really use the help in supporting refugees when they arrive. And, we cannot imagine a better time to launch this work than this holiday, as we reflect on the Passover story of liberation and the human struggle for freedom.”

“In a few weeks, we will gather to tell — and even relive — the story of our people’s escape from persecution and our wandering in the desert without a home,” adds Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, vice president for community engagement at HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees whose lives are in danger for being who they are. “The parallels to today’s global refugee crisis are inescapable. We hope that the conversations that begin around the table will echo deeply in our souls and not only raise awareness, but also call today’s emerging Jewish leaders to action. We are a refugee people, and we have a critical role to play in the future of today’s refugees.”

Repair the World Movement Leaders are organizing volunteer projects with organizations that provide essential services like access to food, education, housing, job training, English language tutoring, or after school care. Strengthening these systems benefits everyone in communities, including refugees and others who are most vulnerable.

Repair anticipates over 100 Turn the Tables meals to spur conversation and action in support of refugees. Thousands of young adults are expected to participate in some way throughout the two week initiative. Individuals interested in participating in any part of the initiative can get more information and can sign-up at

Repair the World — part of the Slingshot Class of 2016 in recognition of its innovative approach to Jewish life and engagement — coordinates major service initiatives year-round, including through its flagship program, Repair the World Communities. Repair’s newly released report, Building Jewish Community Through Volunteer Service, offers evidence that authentic volunteer service programming based on Jewish values is highly attractive to Jewish young adults with little previous involvement in Jewish life.

“Holiday initiatives like #SupportforRefugees create a strong spotlight that we can put on this work, but it is really only the beginning of the story,” Eisner adds. “The real power of service through a Jewish lens comes with the tens of thousands of Jewish young adults who take advantage of meaningful opportunities like these to make a real difference in the lives of those in need throughout the year. For many, in fact, these activities are a primary way they engage in Jewish life. We hope #SupportforRefugees will bolster and bring thousands more to this ongoing work.”

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Catholic Telemedia Network Announces Winners of Fourth Annual MathBowl Contest

During the month of March, the Catholic Telemedia Network (CTN) held its fourth annual MathBowl, a friendly cross-borough math competition among Catholic schools and academies within the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.

After eight days of continuous competition, teacher James Daino’s sixth grade class at Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy in Brooklyn emerged as the first place winner.

More than 16,000 students in 700 classes participated in MathBowl ’16. During the week of March 13-20, students used the online learning platform “Mathletics” to solve as many math problems as they could through live drills and teacher assignments. Students who correctly answered the greatest number of problems earned the most points and moved their classes to the top spots.

St. Peter Catholic Academy in Brooklyn took both second and third place, with teacher Vincent Castro’s fifth- and seventh-graders earning those spots, respectively. In addition to the top spot, Queen of All Saints Catholic Academy in Brooklyn also took fourth place, with teacher Andy Estevez’s fifth grade class. Rounding out the top five were teacher Lourdes Cruz’s fourth-graders from St. Francis Cabrini Academy in Brooklyn.

The top five classes will receive honorary plaques and pizza parties to celebrate their accomplishments during the week of April 18, which marks CTN’s 50th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, more than 50 schools in Brooklyn and Queens registered to participate in MathBowl ’16, making it CTN’s largest competition ever.

The network serves the educational and spiritual needs of children in the diocesan schools of Brooklyn and Queens. CTN’s core mission is to provide quality instructional media resources aligned with Common Core curriculum at no cost to schools. CTN is part of DeSales Media, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

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Milestones in Faith

Easter Story Is Part of Basilica’s Founding

The new parish family of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (now a Basilica) celebrated the first Mass on Easter Sunday, April 2, 1893. Twenty days later, on April 22, the “infant church” was moved to the Neary family house on Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th streets, according to a parish history provided to “Faith in Brooklyn.”

The Mass was celebrated at the Morse family house on 54th Street and Fourth Avenue, with 40 people in attendance.

Sixteen years later, on April 11, 1909 — also on Easter Sunday — the new church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help opened. This section is now the Lower Church.

It is 240 feet long, beginning at the doors on Fifth Avenue. It is 190 feet wide. The exterior is solid granite and the interior is terra cotta. The seating capacity is 1800. On that Easter Sunday the parish counted nearly 6,000 members. The Upper Church was completed later, in December 1928. 





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