Faith In Brooklyn for November 6

Volunteers serve ‘all the trimmin’s” at the 2011 Thanksgiving Day Feast, which Grace Church hosts each year in conjunction with Heights & Hills Community Council. Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Grace Church Continues Hosting Thanksgiving Day Feast for Seniors

It is a longtime tradition that Grace Church-Brooklyn Heights has hosted the annual Heights & Hills Thanksgiving Dinner for senior citizens.

Heights & Hills Community Council (serving Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill) each year joins forces with local churches and synagogues to present and host this noontime Thanksgiving feast. Within the past week, several neighborhood congregations have published a request for volunteers. The Thanksgiving dinner, “complete with all the trimmings” is offered to more than 200 people who are homebound and often very lonely. Thanksgiving Meals-on-Heels are also delivered for those who cannot attend the feast.

Those wishing to volunteer to help serve the meal are urged to call Heights & Hills Community Council (718-596-8789) well in advance of Thanksgiving. Pies are always welcome; anyone can volunteer to bring apple, pumpkin, cherry, pecan or other flavors of traditional Thanksgiving pies that will be served at the meal. Surplus pies are raffled or given away to the seniors.
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Kristallnacht Observance Blends Conversation, Musical Tributes

Hundreds are expected to gather at Congregation Beth Elohim this Sunday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht during an evening of learning and music.

The rash of pogroms that broke out across Nazi Germany and Austria during the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, became known as Kristallnacht—“the night of broken glass.”

The program, on Nov. 10, includes a conversation with Burkhard Bilger, staff writer at the New Yorker and Thomas Harding, author of Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz.

Cantor Josh & Donna Breitzer, vocalists, The “Zocharti Loch” Male Chorus and special guest pianist Simone Dinnerstein will present the musical segment, with works by J. S. Bach and German Jewish composers including Adler, Kellermann, Kirschner and Lewandowski. The Kristallnacht observance begins at 7 p.m. Congregation Beth Elohim, which Newsweek magazine named as “one of America’s 25 most vibrant congregations,” is at 8th Avenue and Garfield Place in Park Slope.
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Update on Kristallnacht Program at Mount Sinai

After last week’s Faith in Brooklyn section was published, this newspaper learned that Bernd Georg Reindl, Consul and Head of Political and Scientific Department, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York, is among the panelists speaking at Congregation Mount Sinai’s Kristallnacht 75th anniversary observance this Saturday. He will join Judge Sol Wachler, former chief judge of the state of New York; and (retired) Justice Ernst H. Rosenberger, Appellate Division, first department for a viewing of the film, “Hitler's Courts: Betrayal of the Rule of Law in Nazi Germany,” and ensuing discussion.

The dinner portion of this Saturday, Nov. 9 program is filled, but the community may still attend the program, which begins at 7 p.m. with the Havdalah rite that concludes each Shabbat.  The cost for Havdalah and program portion only:  $10/person. Contact the synagogue office at 718-875-9124 for further information.
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Family Education Day Will Honor Irving Weissler’s Memory

Members of Brownstone Brooklyn’s Jewish community will join forces to commemorate the 107th birthday of longtime Brooklyn educational leader Irving Weissler (Z”L).

Family Education Day takes place on Sunday, Nov. 17 with the theme “Unity in the Jewish Tradition as it Enhances the Natural Environment.” The Irving Weissler Library and Cultural Center sponsors this day of intergenerational fun, families and festivities, with a light lunch and birthday dessert. Featured speakers are Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, vice chairman of the Feuerstein Institute in Jerusalem; and, via video conference, Professor Reuven Feuerstein.

According to its website, The Feuerstein Institute identifies its twofold mission as “To change educational systems worldwide, helping schools to better prepare their students for the dynamic and ever changing world; to help children and adults overcome cognitive, emotional, psychological and social disabilities and claim their rightful place in society.”

Neighborhood rabbinical and lay leaders are also expected to attend, as of press time.  The Family Education Day runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and is hosted at the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, at 131 Remsen St.
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Series Explores Jewish Perspective On Finding True Joy in Life

How does one find true happiness and lasting joy in the midst of lives and schedules that are increasingly hectic?

Rabbi Seth Wax of Congregation Mount Sinai offers a four-part class on “Happiness, from a Jewish Perspective,” starting next week. Rabbi Wax and the class will explore what the Jewish tradition can teach about being happy and finding contentment. Each session will begin with a contemplative evening service at 7 p.m. including niggunim (wordless melodies sung in a contemplative fashion) text study and meditation; and the class at 7:30 p.m.

“Happiness, from a Jewish Perspective” convenes on Tuesdays, Nov. 12 & 26, and Dec.  10 & 17 at Congregation Mount Sinai, at 250 Cadman Plaza West. The series fee: $60 CMS members, $80 non-members. Individual classes: $15 CMS members, $20 non-members. No one will be turned away because of lack of funds. Contact the synagogue to register: 718-875-9124.
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Israel’s ‘Religion and Peoplehood’ Is Next Topic in BHS iEngage Series

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue continues its iENGAGE in-depth series on Israel.

The series, which launched in October, examines the moral, political and historical forces that have shaped Israel.

Rabbi Serge Lippe and Rabbi Molly Kane leads participation through an exploration of issues that have inspired, challenged and engaged American Jews. Lecture 2, which is offered on Sunday, Nov. 10 and Wednesday, Nov. 13, will focus on “Religion and Peoplehood.”

Attendance at Lecture 1 is not required. Participants can attend either the Sunday program or Wednesday program. There is a fee structure; for more information on cost for individual lectures and start-times, contact the BHS Religious School at For more information on the series, visit:
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College Workshop Designed To Guide Families Through Application Process

What is the parent’s role in the college admission process?

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue offers a college workshop this Sunday to explore the adventure of selecting the best college fit. The workshop will also provide an introduction to a series of lectures on the college application process that Dr. Jager-Hyman, author of B+ Grades, A+ College Applications, will offer over the next several weeks.

These lectures are structured to help students organize and prepare for important deadlines, in addition to reducing stress on both students and their families. The talks are appropriate for high school freshmen through seniors, and will include a discussion of how families can help—or, conversely, unwittingly hurt—their students’ chances of admission to top schools. Tips for essay-writing will be offered.  Admission to the workshop, on Nov. 10 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., is free. Contact the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue for more information.
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Judaica Shop Stocked For ‘Thanksgivukkah’ and Beyond

The Brooklyn Heights Synagogue’s Judaica Gift Shop is stocked for all “Thanksgivukkah” and Chanukah needs. The Jewish festival of lights, which commemorates the rededication of the Temple during the Maccabean period in biblical history, begins early this year, with the first Chanukah candle being lit on Nov. 27, the eve of the American Thanksgiving holiday. Interestingly, given the Jewish calendar, the earliest on which the Hebrew date of 25 Kislev (1st night of Chanukah) is around Nov. 27. And the latest possible date for Thanksgiving Day is Nov. 28 (the fourth Thursday in November.) “Thanksgivukkah” last occurred in 1888.

The Judaica shop, stocked with candles, menorahs, dreidels, story books and other gift items, is open during office hours and every Sunday in November.
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Benefit Concert for Restoration Project Salutes Gregory Eaton’s 20 Years Here

Gregory Eaton, organist and director of music at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, celebrates 20 years at the landmark parish’s E.F. Skinner Organ, with a benefit concert to help restoration efforts.

The concert is a benefit for the restoration of the church’s tower and the famous organ housed inside it. Eaton will play the Peabody Memorial Organ, built by the Skinner Organ Company and installed in the church in 1925.

This instrument, with five keyboards, a pedal board and 4,718 pipes, is the largest and most complete Skinner organ in New York City and has been recognized as a landmark instrument. The Nov. 17 concert, themed “Celebrating 20 Years at the Skinner Organ,” will feature audience-requested selections from Eaton’s wide-ranging repertoire of over 580 secular and classical musical works from the 15th century to the present. Over two decades, Eaton has provided major support for the maintenance and restoration of the historic church and organ through his fundraising and music programs, including a popular lunchtime concert series now in its 15th year.

The organ is housed inside the church’s 275-foot tower on Clinton Street. For decades, scaffolding erected to protect against the effects of brownstone deterioration has obscured the church entrance and tower. Work on the tower roof and exterior, which are in serious need of repair, will require removal of all the organ pipes, facilitating ongoing efforts to address non-functioning parts and notes. Support for the church’s Tower and Organ Fund will facilitate an assessment and planning of the project.

The concert begins at 7 p.m. St. Ann’s Church is at the corner of Clinton and Montague streets in Brooklyn Heights. Suggested donation: $25; seniors and students $20. A reception will follow the concert.

Contributions may also be made online at Checks payable to St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, noting “Tower and Organ Fund,” may be sent to the church at 157 Montague St., Brooklyn, NY 11201.  Contact 718-875-6960 or

Gregory Eaton at the console of the Peabody Memorial Organ, an instrument built by the E.F. Skinner Company. Photo courtesy of the artist

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Cerddorion Ensemble Presents A Feast of Czech Choral Music

The acclaimed Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble, conducted by artistic director James John, will present Pojďme zpívat! Let Us Sing!, an evening of a cappella vocal works by Czech composers, at 8:00 p.m, Friday, Nov. 15 at St. Paul’s Church, 199 Carroll St., Brooklyn.

Antonín Dvořák’s popular Songs of Nature, Op. 63, will serve as the point of departure for a program exploring the rich heritage of Czech choral music, including works by Dvořák’s contemporaries Leoš Janáček and Josef Suk, and by 20th century masters Petr Eben and Zdeněk Lukáš. The program, which repeats in Manhattan at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church on Sunday, Nov. 17, will feature several of Lukáš’s delightful Czech folksong arrangements, as well as the American premiere of his Four Sonnets (2002) on texts by the American poet John Gracen Brown.

The Brooklyn performance marks Cerddorion’s inaugural season as part of St. Paul’s Brooklyn Sounds concert series. The remainder of Cerddorion’s 2013-2014 season will include Language of the Birds (March), featuring the New York premiere of Veronika Krausas’s cycle for chorus and string quartet by the same name, as well as the winner of Cerddorion’s second annual Emerging Composers Competition; and The Food of Love (June), a program of Shakespeare settings that will include readings from the Bard’s plays and poetry, presented in collaboration with the Shakespeare Society of New York.

Now in its 19th season, Cerddorion (the name, pronounced kehr-DOHR-ee-on, which is Welsh for “musicians”) is one of New York’s most highly regarded volunteer choral ensembles. The group is known for its technical excellence, interpretive depth and wide-ranging repertoire, spanning choral literature from the early Renaissance to world premieres. Cerddorion has commissioned new works by such composers as Paul Moravec, David Schober, Lisa Bielawa, David Lang, Elliot Z. Levine, Robert Dennis and Julie Dolphin. Cerddorion is the Artist in Residence at St. Ignatius of Antioch on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and a member of the New York Choral Consortium.

John, now in his fourth season as artistic director, is also associate professor and director of choral activities at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College-CUNY, where under his leadership the choral program has become recognized as one of the finest collegiate programs in the region. John’s dissertation on Brahms won the Julius Herford Prize from the American Choral Directors Association, and will be published soon in revised form as a book by Edwin Mellen Press. He currently serves as editor of American Choral Review, a biannual scholarly journal published by Chorus America.

Tickets for both performances are $20 in advance or $25 at the door ($10 and $15 for students and seniors). Advance tickets can be purchased at

Cerdorrion ensemble. Photo used with permission

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Faith Newsmakers:

St. Joseph’s College Honors Sister Elizabeth Hill

St. Joseph’s College is set to honor outgoing president, Sister Elizabeth Hill, C.S.J., J.D, this Friday, Nov. 8 at the school’s 31st Annual Scholarship Gala.

Proceeds from the black-tie dinner will be used to establish the S. Elizabeth A. Hill Scholarship Fund. Sister Elizabeth, who will retire in June,  is an alumna of St. Joseph’s College.

One of the region’s most influential women, Hill has been president of SJC since 1997. Since her inauguration, she has overseen the expansion of two campuses, most notably the construction of a state-of-the-art Business and Technology Center and 24.8-acre premiere outdoor sports facility on the Long Island campus, as well as launching a comprehensive, capital Master Plan for the Brooklyn campus that included a 44,000-square-foot athletic complex. Under her leadership, the college’s enrollment and range of academic offerings have continuously increased while tuition has remained consistently among the lowest in the New York metropolitan area.

During her tenure as president, Hill secured several large grants from the federal government, including the largest in the college’s history. She was also responsible for securing successful major and estate gifts, including a bequest of $4 million to endow scholarships for students in need. Hill has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for her leadership and lifelong dedication to the field of education.

“It has been a great blessing and a true pleasure to work with Sister Elizabeth for so many years, as she represents the best of leadership and integrity in every sense of the word,” said vice president of institutional advancement Nancy Connors. “I will miss working with her every day, but I am grateful that she is an alumna of the College and will never be that far away.”

Also a Brooklyn native, Hill received an M.A. in history from Columbia University after graduating magna cum laude from St. Joseph’s College. She also studied theology and scripture in Rome under the auspices of Gregorian University. S. Elizabeth holds her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from St. John’s University School of Law.

Individual tickets and various levels of sponsorship are available for purchase. For more information, call 631.687.2655 or visit

Sister Elizabeth Hill. Photo courtesy of St. Joseph’s College.

November 6, 2013 - 11:00am



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