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Faith In Brooklyn for October 10: Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame to celebrate new inductees

October 10, 2018 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Judge Rachel Freier pictured on the day of  her induction into Civil Court. Eagle file photo by Andy Katz
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The first Hasidic woman to be elected to public office in U.S. history, a pioneering food writer and former restaurant critic for several revered magazines, and the longest-serving chaplain in NYPD history are among the stars being honored at the Fourth Annual BJHI Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame next Monday, October 15.

The Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame, known familiarly as BJHI, has as its mission the chronicling of the lives of Jewish Brooklynites, including oral and video histories. The BJHI works closely with the Brooklyn Historical Society, and they have partnered since the formation of BJHI 10 years ago. The Hall of Fame ceremony will be held at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

This year’s Hall of Fame Class of Inductees include acclaimed food writer and critic Mimi Sheraton, and Borough Park native, Judge Rachel Freier, who decided on law school after realizing that her bosses were younger than she was, and who went on to become the first Hasidic female civil court judge in New York State history and the first Hasidic woman elected to public office in the nation’s history.

Also among the inductees are the East Midwood Jewish Center’s Rabbi Emeritus Dr. Alvin Kass, the spiritual leader there for 36 years until his retirement in 2014, and a former president of the New York Board of Rabbis; Abe Becker, all-city basketball star during his years at Lincoln High School, and later on a member of the NYU Athletics Hall of Fame; attorney and former City Councilman David Greenfield, CEO of the Metropolitan Food Council; Henry Gutman, chairperson of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and long time Brooklyn Heights resident, civic leader and accomplished attorney; Brooklyn musician Cecelia Margules; Adam Richman, a self-educated food expert whose show Man v. Food (2008-2012) aired on the Travel Channel; Ferne Pearlstein, a resident of Gowanus, a prize-winning cinematographer, a feature film editor and a writer/director; and Brooklyn-born daughter of Holocaust survivors, Eleanor Reissa, a Tony-nominated director, singer, international concert artist, award winning playwright and Broadway actor.

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

The Hall of Fame ceremony, which begins at 5:30 p.m. on October 15, will also feature the all-woman klezmer band, Metropolitan Klezmers, also known as the Isle of Klezmos.

RSVP is necessary, and can be done via the BJHI website:

The Brooklyn Historical Society is at 128 Pierrepont St.

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Three Brooklyn Congregations Take Part in Open House New York

Plymouth Church, the Church of St. Luke & St Matthew in Clinton Hill, and the East Midwood Jewish Center are three of the Brooklyn congregations participating in this weekend’s Open House New York.

The 170-year-old church Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961 and features noteworthy examples of American art and architecture. It will be open for tours on Saturday, October 13, at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. History tours will cover Plymouth’s unique past as a stop on the Underground Railroad and its notable visitors and members.

Visitors will discover the history of the 1850 sanctuary that was designed by J.C. Wells, a founder of the American Institute of Architects, including its impressive Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ.

Tours will highlight the 170-year history of the congregation, including the invitation that launched Abraham Lincoln’s presidential run, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 visit, and how the church became known as the “Grand Central Depot of the Underground Railroad.”

The Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew, at 520 Clinton Ave., is one of the largest Episcopal church buildings in the Diocese of Long Island. Architect John Welch drew inspiration for the design from churches built during the Italian Renaissance.

The Romanesque interior boasts stained glass windows from the Tiffany Studios of New York; the Rose Window, which is one of the larger of this type in Brooklyn; and a M.P. Moller organ built in 1916. The church will be open for tours and general exploration, with no advance reservation needed, Saturday, October 13, 2018 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Sunday, October 14, from noon to 4 p.m.

The East Midwood Jewish Center was incorporated in 1924 and the building was completed in 1929. The architects were Louis Allen Abramson and Maurice Courland. The EMJC became a national and state historic site in 2006. Tours will be offered on Sunday, October 14 from noon to 4 p.m., every 25 minutes or whenever there are at least five people waiting. Tours last 20 minutes.

Open House New York provides broad audiences with unparalleled access to the extraordinary architecture of New York and to the people who help design, build and preserve the city.

Through its year-round programs and the annual OHNY Weekend, Open House New York celebrates the best examples of design and planning throughout the five boroughs, from historic to contemporary, and helps foster a more informed conversation about how architecture and urban design sustain New York as a vibrant place to live, work, and learn.

Open House New York is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. For more information on other buildings participating in this year’s Open House New York, visit

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The Rev. Clare Nesmith holds the icon of the Transfiguration that was presented to her at her October 6 installation as rector of  Christ Church-Babylon. She is standing with Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, who presided at the induction liturgy.  The iconographer, now deceased, was an Episcopal priest serving in the Archdeaconry of Brooklyn, Fr. John Walsted, who died in 2014. Presenting the icon to Nesmith was the Rev. Gerald Keucher (not pictured) who is currently is the priest-in-charge of St. Mary’s Church, Classon Ave., near Pratt Institute. Nesmith also has strong bonds with Brooklyn. For many years, she was a principal soprano with the Parish Choir of Grace Church Brooklyn Heights. It was at Grace Church, serving in many other ways, that Nesmith began her journey toward the priesthood.

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