By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Good Friday Processions Also Highlight Brooklyn’s Italian Heritage
Thousands Fill Streets of Bensonhurst and Carroll Gardens
Thousands of Italian-Americans processed through the streets of Bensonhurst praying The Way of the Cross last week to commemorate Good Friday, the most solemn day of the Christian calendar. This tradition, which brings together several Roman Catholic parishes in Bensonhurst, is in its 35th year.
The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn, led the faithful as they carried crosses and statues, symbolically walking the path of Jesus toward crucifixion. Along the journey, participants prayed in Italian while moving through the 14 Stations. Meditations at each station reflect on what happened to Jesus from the moment he was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate to his burial.
Participants in this procession are celebrating their faith as well as their Italian heritage. Bensonhurst, now a neighborhood in transition, was once an Italian enclave. In the 1960s an influx of immigrants from southern Italy populated the area bringing this tradition from their homeland. In honor of their ancestors, Italian-Americans from near and far gather on Good Friday and keep the tradition alive. Fifty years ago, in 1967, St. Athanasius Church started offering Italian-language Masses, according to a parish history on its website.
“This is a cultural expression of faith for thousands of Americans whose families came from Italy,” said Monsignor David Cassato, pastor of St. Athanasius Church. “For me personally as an Italian-American priest, it is a reminder of my youth with my immigrant grandparents.”
According to Brooklyn custom, families with ties to Mola di Bari, in southeastern Italy’s Puglia province, enjoy the honor of carrying two statues — Our Lady of Sorrows and the Dead Christ. Other parishioners carry large crosses, while the remaining participants hold candles.
Italian Catholics with bonds to Mola di Bari also reside in other parts of Brooklyn, such as Carroll Gardens. Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen Church in Carroll Gardens, whose membership is largely Molese, also held a procession on Good Friday.
The parishes of St. Athanasius; St. Bernadette; St. Domenic; St. Finbar; St. Frances Cabrini; St. Mary, Mother of Jesus; Our Lady of Guadalupe; St. Rosalia-Regina Pacis; and Sts. Simon and Jude joined together, carrying candles for one unified event.
The procession began at 66th Street and 18th Avenue, and concluded at St. Francis Cabrini Church, 35 Bay 11 Street. There, Bishop DiMarzio led the closing ceremony.
Earlier last week, Bishop DiMarzio celebrated the annual Mass of the Chrism at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, in Prospect Heights. It is during the Chrism Mass that the bishop blesses the oils used for sacramental anointing, and he leads more than 370 priests and deacons in renewing their promises of service to the church. The Chrism Mass is one of the most solemn and significant liturgies of the Catholic Church. It is marked by the ceremonial blessing of the oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and consecration of the oil of chrism, which will be used in all churches of the Diocese of Brooklyn throughout the liturgical year. The oils are used to anoint the sick, baptize catechumens and infants, ordain priests and anoint altars. This Mass is celebrated in dioceses around the world.
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Forum Examines Global Refugee Crisis from Jewish Perspective
Congregation Mount Sinai’s next forum, on Saturday, April 22, will center on “The Global Refugee Crisis through a Jewish Lens.”
Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, education director of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society now known as HIAS, will present a talk and study following 10 a.m. Shabbat worship.
There are more than 65 million refugees and displaced people worldwide, making the global refugee crisis worse today than at any time in history, as victims of persecution and violence around the world flee their homes in search of safety.
Meyer will speak on how the U.S. is responding to what is considered a staggering crisis. She will also speak about the Jewish imperative to take action on behalf of today’s refugees. After services, and starting around 11:20 a.m., Meyer will lead an interactive text study on the value of welcoming the stranger.
HIAS expanded its mission to protect and assist refugees of all faiths and ethnicities. They are now known as HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees.
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Brownstone Brooklyn’s Synagogues Join Forces for Yom HaShoah Service
Union Temple of Brooklyn hosts this year’s Brownstone Brooklyn joint Holocaust Remembrance Day observance.
The centerpiece of the program, taking place Sunday evening, April 23 at 7 p.m., will be a screening of the film “Bogdan’s Journey,” a compelling new film about a Polish town that comes to terms with a pogrom perpetrated against the Jews in 1946.
It is important to note that this pogrom, on July 4, 1946, was the deadliest attack against Jews to take place after the official end of World War II on Sept. 2, 1945. The film centers on a little-known, but horrible episode in a Polish town called Kielce. During a 1946 pogrom in Kielce, some 40 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were massacred. Not only were innocent lives lost, but the town’s psyche was also poisoned. Eventually, a Polish Catholic journalist named Bogdan Biaek, who was also a trained psychologist, arrived, understanding that the town had to face the awful truth about the pogrom in order to create a better future for itself. The film offers an important message to contemplate for Yom Hashoah.
A combined cantorial choir will also offer a song from the Shinshinim. The service will be held on the third floor of its building at 17 Eastern Parkway.
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Explore Brooklyn’s Synagogues, Historic Points on BJHI Tours
The Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative (BJHI) is offering a number of tours of important Jewish sites in Brooklyn.
Author, historian and attorney Judith Greenwald will head a Historic Points Walking Tour, which lasts about three hours. Visitors will take in historic sites from the time of George Washington and the Revolutionary War to the settlement of various Jewish immigrant groups, the establishment of many Jewish-owned businesses along Fulton Street, the history of the formation of at least four major synagogues — Kane Street, Brooklyn Heights, B’nai Avraham and Mount Sinai — and the famous people who attended. Participants will also learn about the role Plymouth Church played in fighting anti-Semitism.
Greenwald will also point out the homes of famous Jews, including Civil War hero Lt.-Col. Leopold G. Newman; composer Aaron Copland; Rabbi Israel Goldfarb, religious leader of Kane Street Synagogue from 1905 to 1965, composer of the world famous setting to the Kabbalat Shabbat prayer “Shalom Aleichem” and father of congregational music; playwright Arthur Miller; novelist Norman Mailer; attorney Michael Furst, Court Street lawyer and the first Jewish graduate of Yale University who spoke at his graduation in 1876 on the topic “The Modern Jew”; Ambassador Henry Morgenthau; and real estate businessmen Sol and Irving Goldman. Tours will convene at the corner of SW Cadman Plaza and Clark Street.
Other tours offered will explore Victorian Flatbush, East Flatbush, Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Lost Synagogues of Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Brownsville and part of East Flatbush. One tour specializes in Brooklyn’s Sephardic communities from Bensonhurst to Flatbush.
Visit BJHI’s website to learn more about and register for the tours: http://brooklynjewish.org/events-page/bjhi-tours/.