Chatting with Chapey
by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader
RCJC Dinner Promotes Harmony
Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey and Renee Freeman are the new leaders of the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council.
Recently, over two hundred people from the Rockaway area attended a dinner which was a historical event. It is the second beginning of the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council. The group was formed by Rabbi Alan Blaine, Father Jack Kelly and Rabbi Joseph Weiss in 1979. The mission of the organization is to promote religious and racial harmony.
The Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council has been extremely fortunate to have been led by a group of concerned, thoughtful and purposeful individuals who were dedicated to the goals of the organization. They are: Rabbi Alan Blaine, Monsignor Martin Geraghty, Reverend Paul Landolphi, Jesse and Rose Plutzer, Ralph and Lillian Leinoff, Deacon Ace Proce, Dr. John and Augusta Russo, Charles and Evelyn Thau and Syma Wolf. Each of these individuals received certificates of appreciation for their valued support and sponsorship of the programs offered by the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council. Through their combined efforts brotherhood and sisterhood in our community has thrived.
At the dinner, a special award was given to Jack and Eleanor King for their outstanding efforts in promoting religious and racial harmony in our city. Jack and Eleanor have always reached out. Jack King and Dr. Geraldine Chapey chaired a rally for Peace in Israel last year which was held at the Knights of Columbus and was attended by over three hundred people. The purpose of the rally was to promote positive relationships.
At the dinner, we remembered the past contributions of Deacon Robert and Diane Hitter to the important mission of the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council. Through their outstanding professional commitment and sustained efforts the RCJC has continued as a positive force in our community.
During the dinner at the West End Temple everyone remembered the profound and definitive mark that Rabbi Joseph Weiss left on the RCJC. His strong religious roots, warm and outgoing personality and his ability to relate to people of all ages and all religious faiths remains with us today as part of his legacy to our community.
The RCJC sponsors two types of activities: (1) lectures and discussions on topics that promote a dialogue between groups, (2) an essay contest on brotherhood and sisterhood. All of the children in the schools (both public and parochial) on the Rockaway peninsula and Broad Channel are encouraged to participate in the essay contest. The essay contest gives two types of awards: The Deacon Robert Hitter Certificate of Excellence and The Theodore Avery Certificate.
Dr. Geraldine Chapey commented at the dinner that by sponsoring the essay contest it is our hope that the ideas expressed in these uplifting essays will one day soon become living realities throughout the world. The essential theme expressed by the children over the years is that we live in troubled times in a multi cultural society and there are differences among us. The best possible way to deal with them are through dialogue, sensitivity and respect for one another.
In his State of the Union address in January 2000, President Clinton referred to the probability that sometime during the 21st Century the U. S. will become a nation of minorities. Minority does not refer to a groups’ numerical strength in the population. Minorities are groups that are victims of discrimination. At one time or another each person has been a victim of discrimination. We all know first hand what the harmful effects of discrimination and prejudice are — that individuals are stunted by the artificial barriers and warped perceptions that such barriers and social divisions create. Today our country is in a period of immense transition. It is through organizations such as the RCJC that we can work to eliminate prejudice and discrimination. We can work together to promote harmony.
Renee Freeman, the President of Hadassah, has had an outstanding career as a teacher. She noted at the dinner that the RCJC is a very worthwhile organization. She is pleased to be a leader in the re-organization of the RCJC in order to continue its positive programs. Renee Freeman noted that the most important arm of the RCJC has been the Brotherhood/Sisterhood Essay Contest. Renee told those assembled at the dinner that Geraldine Chapey had won a Brother/ Sisterhood essay contest sponsored by the West End Temple when she was graduating from St. Francis de Sales School. This is an experience that profoundly enriched her life and one that she has held close to her heart all these years.
In the Spring, the RCJC will sponsor its 20th annual Brotherhood/Sisterhood essay contest. A breakfast will be held at St. Francis de Sales School as it is each year to present the winners in the different age groups. We are going to try to contact past winners to be with us at the breakfast.
At the dinner at the West End Temple we acknowledged some past winners and their families who were present: Daniel Nagel, the son of Dr. Jonathan and Stacey Nagel and the grandson of Renee Hodes. He won in 1999 when he was 11 years old; Amanda Mastrongello who is the daughter of Carol and Vincent and the granddaughter of Bobby and Lou Seiden. Amanda won twice and was the youngest child ever to win. Today she writes spectacular poems and essays and Faye Peithman, the daughter of Cynthia and James Peithman, was a winner in 2002. She was attending the dinner with her brother Steven who might someday also be an essay winner.
The following religious leaders were introduced: Rabbi Melvin May, Monsignor Martin Geraghty, Rabbi Alan Blaine, Reverend Paul Landolfi, and Reverend Jan Powell.
Kudos go to Marilyn Blicksilver, Faye Cohen, Stella Pepi, Flora Costelloe, Emily and Vincent Cennamo, Beverly Baxter, Eugene Pasternak and Dr. Geraldine D. Chapey who served on our dinner committee. Thanks for all their expertise, guidance, enthusiasm and efforts! They make a powerful difference in the lives of others.