By Francesca Norsen-Tate, Religion Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Williamsburg Church Kicks Off 127th Annual Famous Giglio Feast
12-Day Celebration Honors Saint Who Returned From Captivity
The much-anticipated annual Giglio Feast at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg, which begins on Wednesday, July 9, features a five-story-tall Neapolitan Saint on a tower with a brass band carried on the shoulders of 125 Italian men in Brooklyn.
The Feast — 40 years older and second in size to another famous event, San Gennaro in Manhattan’s Little Italy — will feature live entertainment nightly as well as vendors selling Italian specialties and international delicacies, parades, a bazaar with games, gifts, souvenirs, children’s rides and amusements and the atmosphere and excitement of Italy. The streets of Williamsburg will come alive as 125 men carry the 80-foot-tall, three-ton “Giglio” (meaning “Lilies” in Italian) that celebrates the dramatic story of the early Christian Saint Paulinus of Nola, who lived in Italy during the third and fourth centuries A.D.
This Old World-style Italian street festival, which was brought to America more than 125 years ago, is a major fundraiser for Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and a religious and community event in Williamsburg, honoring two saints.
The story of St. Paulinus’ captivity and return to Italy is at the forefront of the festival and provides the highlights. The lilies are represented by the Giglio, with a statue of St. Paulinus on top. The Giglio also holds an orchestra, emcee, singer and the parish priest! The well-trained men selected to carry this weight are chosen based on their dedication to church and community, as well as their strength. The companion vessel to the Giglio is La Barca, a life-size boat carrying a statue of St. Paulinus and live actors portraying the Turk.
The festival also celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary’s patronage of the Carmelite religious order at Mount Carmel and of that namesake church at Havemeyer and North Eighth streets. Masses are celebrated daily, both to honor the saints and to invoke protection on the lifters and capos.
Festival hours are Monday through Friday, 6 to 11 p.m., starting July 9; Saturdays, 6 p.m. to midnight; and Sundays, noon to 11 p.m.
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Mount Sinai Hosts Talk on Syrian Refugee Crisis
Congregation Mount Sinai presents “My View of Syria & Israel: A Conversation with a Syrian Refugee,” on Saturday, July 12. This is a date-change from the previously announced June 28 event.
The United Nations calls the Syrian refugee crisis “the greatest humanitarian tragedy of our times.” More than two-and-a-half million people have fled Syria, with seven million more displaced inside the country. Join Congregation Mount Sinai for a Shabbat morning conversation about the conflict with a dynamic Syrian refugee who aided wounded and ill civilians before being forced to flee the country. He will recount his experience of meeting an Israeli relief worker, which stunned him into learning that a supposed enemy country was helping his people, while his own government was killing his neighbors.
The conversation takes place at 11:30 a.m., immediately following Saturday morning Shabbat services. Kiddush follows.
This talk is presented in cooperation with the Multi-Faith Alliance for Syrian Refugees in Jordan (www.multifaithallinace.org). Please contact the Synagogue office at 718-875-9124 by Wednesday, July 9, to RSVP, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Brooklyn Heights Synagogue Hosts Seventh Annual Iftar
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan started last weekend and already in Brooklyn the spirit of outreach is present. The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue is preparing to host its seventh annual Iftar for friends at Dawood Mosque on State Street, also in the Heights.
The start of Ramadan is determined by a combination of astronomical calculations and the sighting of the moon and this month lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on the lunar cycle. Each year, Ramadan’s start falls about 11 days earlier and so revolves around the seasons. This year, Ramadan began on Sunday, June 29, although some sources indicated Saturday, June 29. Since Ramadan will begin, or last, during the summer months for the next two or three years, it will demand great endurance.
During Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from food, water and pleasurable activities from dawn until sunset. Fasting, which is one of the third pillars of Islam, teaches self-control and closer devotion to God. Many Muslims point out that this self-control pertains not only to intake of water and nourishment, but behavior and temper, during a period when it is most challenging to remain charitable at all times. Moreover, the final 10 days of Ramadan are considered to be the most significant and holiest, as Muslims believe that the Prophet Mohammed received his revelation on one of these nights, but the exact one remains a mystery. Therefore, they focus even more on spiritual and physical discipline as well as charity during these last nights.
Ramadan also emphasizes the centrality and joy of hospitality.
After sunset, Muslims break their fast by eating dates with water, engaging in prayer and then inviting family, friends and community members to an Iftar, or break-the-fast meal. In recent years, Muslims here in Brooklyn, such as at the Dawood Mosque on State Street, have extended that hospitality to their Jewish and Christian neighbors.
The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue announces that its seventh annual Iftar will take place on Thursday, July 17 from 8:30 to 10 p.m., following sunset (Maghrib).
By tradition, dates are the first food consumed when the fast is broken. Participants will gather at 8:30 p.m. to talk and learn more about Ramadan and its customs; then they will dine together.
The RSVP deadline is July 11 via email at email@example.com.
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Summer Preaching Series Deals With ‘Trouble’
The image of God as a kindly grandfather with a white beard is not always universal, especially for people who have experienced difficulty with traditional metaphors for God, or with organized religion. There is certainly Biblical precedence for this: Moses encountered God in a bush that was filled with flames but that did not burn up, while Elijah encountered the Almighty in a still, small voice. Many people have found new expressions for the Eternal One, such as referring to the Almighty as “our Mother.” And sometimes, people view God as “Troubling.”
One book that addresses this topic is “Theology for a Troubled Believer.” Its author, Princeton professor and theologian Diogenes Allen (1932-2013), tackles the message of Christianity and of hope. “Theology for a Troubled Believer” is part of the assigned reading for Year 4 Education for Ministry students, a certification program for laypersons that is offered through University of the South-Sewanee.
The Rev. Stephen D. Muncie, rector of Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights, will present his own summer preaching series on “Trouble.”
Starting on Sunday, June 29, and continuing through July 20, Fr. Muncie will preach on the themes “The Trouble with God” (June 29); “The Trouble with Love” (July 6); “The Trouble with Family” (July 13); and “The Trouble with Self” (July 20).
Services remain at their same times during the summer: 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. (family liturgy) and 11 a.m. Grace Church is an Episcopal, welcoming congregation in Brooklyn Heights at Hicks Street and Grace Court.