Faith In Brooklyn for March 6

March 6, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Actress and storyteller Carole Forman. Photo courtesy of Ms. Forman

Addressing Family Violence And Empowerment, New Play Examines Plight of Tamar

Heights Resident Carole Forman Portrays Tragic Figure

Women’s History Month celebrates women heroes throughout American history. To celebrate the month, some strong women leaders are bringing awareness to the struggles and tragedies that women have endured. Among them are longtime Brooklyn Heights resident Carole Forman, who will portray the Biblical title character in two special performances of “Tamar: The Two-Gated City.”

“Tamar” deals with two rape culture Bible stories re-imagined from a female perspective. It is a brainchild of award-winning playwright Emma Goldman-Sherman, with songs directed by Keisha Kogan. The Marble Arts Ministry website calls the play a “timeless yet relevant, feminist work that provokes/engages on multiple levels to acknowledge/heal what our culture denies and/or refuses to address.”

In the play, 15 years have passed since a rape. Tamar is a spirit unable to rest, who haunts her niece and namesake Tamar (from the same book). The young Tamar wants to know what happened, but no one will speak of it. She seeks out Abida in the house of Amnon. All three are on dangerous ground.

“Tamar: The Two-Gated City” was commissioned to be performed in houses of worship and followed with a community discussion. Using two bible stories, it is a piece about rape and keeping silent — or speaking out — about revenge versus justice and about courage amidst fear.

Forman, who has lived in the Heights for 35 years, is an actress, storyteller, dancer and teacher. She, husband Maggid Yitzhak Buxbaum and their maggidim students have presented many programs on various aspects of Judaism and Jewish mysticism, including Tu B’Shevat, or New Year of the Trees. (A maggid is an itinerant storyteller and narrator. Maggidim were sought after in a time when the oral tradition was central to a society. Many are working to revive the oral tradition.)

Says Forman, “The character I play in ‘Tamar: The Two-Gated City’ is a created character unlike the two other women who appear in the bible (2 Samuel 13). She represents the dilemma of speaking up to power, making a choice, walking a tight line. I have played other women from the bible, notably the prophetess Miriam in the play ‘In the Voice of Our Mothers,’ which was presented at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, Park Slope Jewish Center, Midwood Jewish Center and many other synagogues and churches around New York and upstate. I hope to bring Tamar to the [Brooklyn Heights] neighborhood also.”

Song director Keisha Kogan is an ordained minister. She taught a domestic violence workshop at One Spirit in the fall of 2017. She is the coordinator for CONNECT Faith, which is a Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence education and prevention organization that works with faith communities

(http://www.connectnyc.org/program/connect-faith).

The first performance of “Tamar: The Two-Gated City” on Thursday, March 15, will be a staged reading with songs, hosted at the Marble Collegiate Church, 29th Street at Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan. It begins at 6:45 p.m. Visit for tickets: http://www.marblechurch.org/welcome/calendar/events/arts-ministry/4637/arts-ministry-tamar-the-two-gated-city.Following this performance, the Rev. Barbara Crafton, an Episcopal priest and author, will lead a moderated discussion and Q&A session.

The second performance — an excerpt — will be part of the Folksbeine Festival at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. “Tamar” will be performed in “UNTOLD STORIES OF JEWISH WOMEN, A Festival of Plays, Music, and Conversation,” on Tuesday, March 20. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the Tamar portion is expected to be presented mid-morning. For more information on this event, visit http://nytf.org/?event=untold-stories-of-jewish-women-festival&event_date=2018-03-20.

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Unsung Heroines Program Unfolds Stories of Less-Famous Women Who Influenced the World

Honoring Women’s History Month, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church will host its third annual Unsung Heroines program on Sunday, March 18, at 1:30 p.m. Parishioners and friends will present brief biographies of widely influential, but largely unknown, women. Heroines have included astronauts, theologians, inventors and activists — and the list continues to grow. Details of the event will follow. Please mark your calendar and plan to join us!

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Milestones in Faith:

St. Luke’s Church Leaders Pledge Regeneration After Fire Destroys Building

The Brooklyn Eagle of March 7, 1940 carried a story in which the Rev. Dr. John Howland Lathrop, senior minister of First Unitarian Church, (then called Unitarian Church of the Savior) asserted that New York’s metropolitan life was “for adults only,” and “neglected the needs of youth.”

He was speaking at a conference for human needs, held at the Hotel Pennsylvania, that attracted more than 1,500 clergy, public officials, social workers, physicians and civic leaders. They gave the reasons for insufficient resources for young people.

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The Brooklyn Eagle of March 10, 1914 carried the lead story of a fire at old St. Luke’s Church on Clinton Avenue that caused more than $300,000 in damages. The subhead read, “Only a shell is left.” Parish leaders vowed to rebuild the church. Over time, it merged with another parish to become the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew, with a large-capacity sanctuary. Fast forward to the 21st century: After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, the clergy and congregation creatively established a clearinghouse of relief supplies and meals, a ministry that brought fame to the Clinton Hill parish. Both the rector and associate rector were subsequently promoted to other leadership roles within the Diocese of Long Island. Today, the Rev. Julie Hoplamazian is rector. She and the parish together have established a ministry partnership with Faith in New York, hosting their phone banking and annual assembly. They support the work of the New Sanctuary Coalition, have expanded its homeless ministry, hosting the CAMBA Respite Bed Program for six months, and have begun a garden club and have an active I-DANCE movement for youths. Hoplamazian, who is active in the community, was recently named one of eight community partners with the 88th Precinct.

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