2004-01-16 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter
On The Beach With Beverly Baxter RCJC – Bridging Two Communities

With Beverly Baxter
RCJC – Bridging Two Communities

Perhaps one of the most worthwhile community groups to recently re-emerge is the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council, which, after several decades of promoting ethnic and religious harmony throughout the peninsula, was about to dissolve due to a lack of active membership. Founded in 1979 by Father Jack Kelly, Rabbi Alan Blaine, and and the late and much revered Rabbi Joseph Weiss, its mission is to foster inter-faith relationships within the community; as well as enhance, by dismantling the invisible barriers of prejudice and stereotyping, a better understanding that there is more that unites us than that which divides us.

Under the dynamic new leadership of Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey and Renee Freeman, its re-emergence will be a vital harmonious force within the community. Renee Freeman has been a teacher and has resided in the community for nearly four decades. As the current President of Hadassah, Renee brings an understanding that will further the mission of the council and its goals. Dr. Chapey, a Professor with CUNY and President of Trinity Senior Services, also brings to the organization unique leadership skills.

With regard to her involvement with the RCJC, Dr. Chapey fondly recalls an early experience that had a profound impact on her life. Many years ago, before the RCJC was formed, B’nai Brith sponsored an Essay Contest at West End Temple on Brotherhood and Sisterhood. A young student from St. Frances de Sales School entered the contest and won.

That little girl was Geraldine M. Chapey! She received the award from Rabbi Joseph Weiss whose legacy as that of an Ambassador of good will still continues to inspire and endure.

Under the dedication and commitment of Rabbi Alan Blaine, Msgr. Martin Geraghty, Rev. Paul Landolphi, Jesse and Rose Plutzer, Ralph and Lillian Leinoff, Ace Prose, Dr. John and Augusta Russo, Charles and Evelyn Thau, Dr. Fred and Thelma Frieden, Syma Wolff, and Deacon Robert and Diane Hitter, who have sponsored the annual Essay Contest and lectures on inter-faith issues, this legacy of religious harmony will continue.

The twentieth annual Brotherhood Sisterhood Essay Contest Breakfast will be held at St. Frances de Sales Parish on Sunday, May 23 at 10 am.

The organization is inviting all students from all Public and Parochial Schools throughout Rockaway and Broad Channel to participate. The schools are being asked to present and promote the theme of Brotherhood and Sisterhood through discussion, investigation, and dialogue so that students may become more aware of how problems arising out of discrimination and prejudice can lead to disruptive behavior and a negative perspective on humanity.

There will be two Essay Awards of Excellence. The Deacon Robert Hitter and Theodore Avery Awards.

I know that for me personally, having been raised of the Jewish faith with deep roots within the Jewish community here (my uncle was the renowned and much adored Cantor Jacob Singer), my life has been very much enhanced and my understanding expanded through my marriage, hence my involvement in the Catholic community.

I am extremely grateful for this perspective which I have gained and I am delighted that the RCJC will continue to engage in promoting religious harmony and our common sense of humanity. Congratulations to all those involved in this worthwhile and most important community endeavor.

***See you at the annual Hearts and Shamrocks Dinner Dance hosted by the James Conway Sullivan Queens County Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee this Sunday, January 18 from 4-8pm at Saint Camillus!    

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