Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for May 2

May 2, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Board Members and NBA Food Truck sponsors Norm and Elaine Brodsky accept a framed thank you from Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello (far left) and NBA board member Neil Sheehan. Photo by Andy Katz

Civic and Clergy Leaders Celebrate North Brooklyn Angels’ New Kitchen

By Andy Katz

North Brooklyn Angels board member Neil Sheehan has witnessed his visionary food truck become an expanded reality. On Sunday, the truck officially became supplemented by its own shiny, state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, which could supply more than 200 meals per day to in-need residents of North Brooklyn.

“We started this four years ago,” food truck principal sponsor Norm Brodsky said, after receiving a framed thank-you plaque for the role he and his wife, Elaine Brodsky, who is North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce chair, played in making this all a reality. “We played our role, but it was important for us to see how the community responded — whether they would pitch in and keep the thing going. People needed to do their part.”

Judging by the response from business, community and religious leaders, Sheehan’s concept and the Brodsky’s facilitation of it were profoundly inspiring.

“A lot of our volunteers are younger people,” said kitchen coordinator Donna Sinetar. “We want them to have a good time. There’s a lot of camaraderie when you do this kind of work.”

The North Brooklyn Angels Food Truck has been operating for the better part of a year now, establishing a routine that brings it to Cooper Park Houses, St. John the Evangelist Church, Williamsburg Library, Annunciation Church and St. Anthony of Padua-St Alphonsus on a weekly schedule.

The prominent role of churches in the truck’s orbit is no accident, either. The Angels’ new kitchen, although refurbished by the nonprofit, actually belongs to Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish. “We weren’t using it that much,” explained Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, pastor of the Shrine Church. “So, we’re happy to have it used to help feed people. Add to that we have some 40 self-help and 12-step groups meeting here, and that creates a huge pool of volunteers—people help themselves by helping others.”

“People are basically good,” added Rev. Deacon Joseph Occhiuto, of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which is another key Angels sponsor. “They just need reminding from time to time.”

“We share resources, because we take part in this ministry, too,” said Rev. Dr. Katrina Foster, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church on Milton Street. “You can literally feed the masses from this kitchen,” she added with smile.

Asked whether Food Truck clients expressed a favorite dish, kitchen manager and designer Josh Cohen said, “We did a chicken curry with lentils and rice that people couldn’t get enough of.”

Sinetar nodded. “Right,” she agreed. “That one was huge.”

Cohen and Sinetar buy all of their food at present. Because he owns a number of restaurants, including Casa Publica and Jimmy’s Diner, Cohen can leverage prices from his suppliers. “We’re developing a relationship with NYC food banks, so we can stretch of budget even further,” Sinetar explained.

* * *

Park Slope Rabbi to Receive Human Rights Hero Award

Rabbi Rachel Timoner of Congregation Beth Elohim will receive the seventh annual Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award next Tuesday, May 8, at the gala of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights in Manhattan.

Timoner has turned her community into a hub of social justice action in Brooklyn, guiding congregants to take a stand for racial justice, welcome refugees and speak up against the current presidential administration’s attacks against Muslim and immigrant neighbors.

Timoner has launched several community organizing and social justice initiatives at CBE, including a Dismantling Racism Team that was part of the successful campaign to Raise the Age of criminal responsibility in New York. She also launched a successful action with Brooklyn’s district attorney to address systemic racism in the prosecution of “broken windows” infractions, the bail system and discovery. Moreover, in partnership with New York City Councilmember Brad Lander, she convenes #GetOrganizedBK, through which thousands of New Yorkers work together to defend democracy and human dignity in this time when they believe that both are under siege.

Before arriving at Beth Elohim two years ago, Rabbi Timoner served as associate rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where she supported its successful local community organizing work in economic justice and transportation, and was a leader in Reform California, a statewide effort that helped to protect undocumented immigrants and build affordable housing.

Timoner commented: “We are watching a systematic assault on human dignity, human rights and democratic institutions. This is a time that calls for moral courage, a time that demands the best we have to give. Everyone’s voice is needed. As Jews we learn in Torah never to oppress the stranger, never to stand idly by the blood of our neighbor, never to allow the oppression of the poor. There is nothing heroic about fulfilling these Jewish obligations. It is simply what we must do.”

Lander praised Timoner, saying: “Rabbi Timoner’s courageous leadership, far-sighted vision, inclusive community-building and strategic organizing have electrified Congregation Beth Elohim as a vibrant center of justice and activism over the past few years. She has helped build a Jewish movement for racial justice, put herself on the line time and again for the rights of immigrants and refugees and helped to create and nurture #GetOrganizedBK as a hub of action for justice. T’ruah — an organization I love, by the way! — is wise to recognize her with this well-deserved Rabbinic Human Rights Hero Award.”

Congregation Beth Elohim’s President Jonathan Fried said, “Rabbi Timoner has brought new energy and vision to our congregation’s longstanding commitment to tikkun olam. She leads us by example and through teaching to make the words of Torah have meaningful and tangible impact for the causes of human dignity and social justice, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she is being honored for her efforts.”

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights mobilizes a network of almost 2,000 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people.

* * *

New 300-seat Church Is Fruit of Partnership That Salutes African-Americans’ Talent

A new state-of-the-art church building with a 300-seat sanctuary will celebrate the culminating months of its years-long development with the blessing of a “final cornerstone” this weekend.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Audley Donaldson, rector of St. Stephen and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, sponsor of the project, made the announcement on Monday.

Bishop Lawrence Provenzano of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island (which includes Brooklyn), said the new church is the first to be built in the diocese in 27 years.

The historic congregation had an old church building that needed millions of dollars for infrastructure renovation and maintenance. Banks would not consider loans, but Donaldson and other parish leaders were determined to find a way to continue and even expand their service to the community in Brooklyn.

After years of exploring options, including the prospect of ending its ministry, the congregation was able to create a forward-looking project with the partnership of Pericles Notias of Notias Construction of Flushing, N.Y., and with architect, Shaneekua Henry.

And, Donaldson added, “There is some symbolism in the fact that the architect, Ms. Henry, is a partner in the African-American owned SLM Architecture, P.C., because we in the Episcopal Church are mindful of the church’s involvement with slavery and slave owners.” Henry is also the first female African-American to design a church in the diocese.

Donaldson describes the new building as “a contemporary design that expresses the warmth and welcoming spirit of the Episcopal Church.” The new church expects to open its doors for services in early September.

The church was built as part of a larger development project that includes a 38-unit apartment building next to the church called the Brooklyn Manor.

The parish and Bishop Lawrence Provenzano will host the May 5 celebration, which starts at 10 a.m., and will include clergy and leadership from across the diocese and special invited guests representing a wide cross-section of society.

Provenzano said he is “looking forward to greeting the members and neighbors of the revitalized ministry at St. Stephen and St. Martin’s church. It’s an exciting and demographically diverse community. There is absolutely new life here, and it is one more expression of the creative life and growth in our diocese.”

St. Stephen and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church is located at 789 Jefferson Ave.

* * * 

Heights Association Teams with Local Houses of Worship for E-Waste Recycling

Gather those unwanted, obsolete electronic devices. Brooklyn Heights residents will again be able to give away their e-waste on Sunday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., thanks to the Brooklyn Heights Association and a coalition of local houses of worship. They have partnered with the Lower East Side Ecology Center to sponsor this annual program. The Chapel of First Unitarian Church will serve as the collection site.

The e-waste drive is a convenient way for neighbors to safely dispose of residential electronics waste, from batteries to answering machines to VCRs (no kitchen appliances accepted.) Please call (718) 624-5466 or pick up a flier for additional information.

* * * 

‘Marrying Later in Life’ Is Theme Christian Singles Spring Social

Hundreds of Christian singles of all ages, from all walks of life and from all denominations from throughout the tri-state area have attended these Christ-centered events here in Brooklyn for over 20 years

Dinner (6 p.m. prompt), dessert, fellowship and worship are part of the evening on Saturday, May 19. The message, titled “Marrying Later in Life” will be helpful to those who have had similar experiences or who keep the hope that they will find a soulmate in their mature years. Q&A will follow. Admission is $15 at the door. Visit CompleteinChrist.com for directions to Lefferts Park Church, 7524-14th Ave. in Dyker Heights.