Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for June 5

June 5, 2017 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The players present a song about sweets during one of the plays. Photo courtesy of the Brooklyn Children’s Theatre
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Children’s Musicals About Muslim Experience Premiere for Ramadan

Two new musicals that bring Muslim and non-Muslim audiences together will premiere during Ramadan.

Muslims consider Ramadan, which began at sundown Friday, May 26, as their holiest month. Based on a lunar calendar, Ramadan begins around 11 days earlier each year of the secular calendar,  rotating around the seasons, with the daytime fasts lasting longer during the spring and summer.

Ramadan is a time of fasting and special acts of charity. It is during Ramadan that Muslims believe Mohammad received the revelations that were compiled into the Qu’ran. Muslims are commanded to fast from all food, water and pleasurable activities during daytime hours. Moreover, Muslims are commanded to refrain from all negative or uncharitable speech or actions — a discipline that’s particularly more challenging to uphold when hungry or thirsty for long stretches.

Another challenge presents itself: how to maintain the discipline of abstention and prayer times when one’s schedule doesn’t always provide for it — such as school-mandated lunch hours. Muslims pause all activities to pray formally five times daily, throughout the year.

The very endeavor to incorporate these practices into the school day is the subject of the musicals, which the Brooklyn Children’s Theatre has created and premiered this past weekend.

Together, they tell stories of what it means to be American and celebrate the recognition of Eid as a public-school holiday. These musicals allow non-Muslim and Muslim children alike to experience the culture and everyday experiences of their classmates and neighbors, to learn about the local New York City history, and develop confidence in their own voices and identities.

In a time of increased divisions and fear of what is unfamiliar and different, these musicals are meant as models on curing fear and hatred: through exposure, engagement and empathy. Amy White Graves, executive director of Brooklyn Children’s Theatre, states, “It’s important for children to see themselves portrayed as heroes on the stage.  Since we started this project, our Muslim students have taken great pride in sharing their culture, and our non-Muslim students have embraced their Muslim peers with new understanding.”

The spring productions are “All of U.S.” and “The Ten-Year Test.”

“All of U.S.” is written by Scott Evan Davis, Kareem Fahmy, Amy White Graves, and a team of Muslim and non-Muslim students in BCT’s summer play writing class. In the play, Muslim and non-Muslim children give their different perspectives on what it means to be an American.

“The Ten-Year Test” is written by Aizzah Fatima, with music by Craig Baldwin and lyrics by Robert Yarnall. The Ten-Year Test chronicles the story of getting Eid added as public school holiday, after 10 years of petitioning by New York City school students.

Show dates/times were: Saturday, June 3, at 4  and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, June 4, at 2 and 6:30 p.m.

All performances took place at the Brooklyn Music School, 126 St. Felix St. in Fort Greene,

These original musicals are part of Brooklyn Children’s Theatre’s “Muslim Voices” series, funded by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts.

Brooklyn Children’s Theatre (BCT) is an after school musical theatre program serving more than 1,000 children in Brooklyn.  Professional writers and composers create mini-musicals specifically for BCT’s students to ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow as an artist and a person. We believe that theatre should be for every child, not just those who can afford it. 700 of our students are low-income or living in family shelters.

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Founder of Camp for Transgender Youths Gives Talk for Synagogue’s Pride Shabbat

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue’s Pride Shabbat on June 9 will focus on the needs of transgender youth and their families. The presenter, Nick Teich, grew up and became bar mitzvah at the Heights Synagogue, where his parents are members.

Now, Teich, LCSW, is the founder and CEO of Camp Aranu’tiq & Harbor Camps, the world’s first overnight camps for transgender youth and their families. Since 2009, he has worked year-round to prepare for and run these camp programs. He is the author of “Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue.” He has a deep personal interest in helping transgender people to be themselves.

The Pride Shabbat service begins at 6:30 p.m. with a wine-and-cheese “Pre-neg” half an hour before the worship.

The following week, the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue presents another Pride event, a viewing of Eddie Rosenstein’s film, “The Freedom to Marry.” This film chronicles the inside story of the same-sex marriage movement through the eyes of those who led the fight. The viewing begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 9.

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St. Ann’s Bids Godspeed to Deacon Matthew Burdette

Dr. Matthew Burdette, who served as Wisdom Year Seminarian Intern at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church over the past year, was ordained recently to the transitional diaconate.

He had earned his doctorate in theology at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, just as he was joining the St. Ann’s parish last year. During his time at St. Ann’s, he served as a preacher, teacher, and volunteer coordinator. He offered classes on the foundations of Christianity, and facilitated a well-received Conversations on Race series.

On May 17, he was graduated from the General Theological Seminary, where he was enrolled in the Anglican Studies diploma. He was ordained to the transitional diaconate two days later at Trinity Cathedral in Trenton, in the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. Last weekend St. Ann’s bid farewell to Deacon Burdette and his wife, Evie, as they begin a new chapter of ministry.

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Greek Festival Starts June 5

Fairgoers will experience the best in homemade Greek culinary treats and pastries! Dance the night away on Friday and Saturday nights! Shop in the Agora and Flea Market. The cathedral is at 64 Schermerhorn St. For more information, call 718-624-0595 or visit or Instagram @NAK_FESTIVAL.

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