2005-12-23 / Columnists

Chatting with Chapey

Dr. Geraldine ChapeyDr. Geraldine Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Democratic District Leader

Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council Dinner

More than 200 people attended the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council (RCJC) dinner on Thursday, December 15, 2005 at the West End Temple. The dinner was chaired by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey and Renee Freeman, the co-chairs of the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council.

I would like to thank Rabbi Marjorie Slome, Stan and Elaine Gelda and Marsha and Evelyn Weber for allowing the RCJC to utilize the magnificent facilities at the West End Temple for the dinner. A major aspect of an enjoyable evening is the ambiance surrounding the event. The West End Temple provided a gracious and welcoming atmosphere in which to hold this important community event.

Dr. Geraldine Chapey and Renee Freeman welcomed everyone to our second RCJC community interfaith dinner. Dr. Chapey noted that an interfaith dinner provides an opportunity for people of good will who are committed to their own religious beliefs and spiritual paths to come together to foster mutual understanding, appreciation and enrichment. Many people when studying other religions from around the world are amazed and surprised to find that there are a lot of teachings in common. This sparks their interest and encourages them to look into interfaith ideas. It is always interesting to note what people of other faiths find inspiring about one’s own faith. Interfaith dialogue is a fundamental and basic element in fostering good relations between the respective communities and groups.

Today, living in our times we all feel a sense of urgency for people of good will of all faiths to work together. Interfaith activities create conditions for positive encounters and exchanges. Through the mutual dialogue and mutual interchange people learn to value working together to achieve common community goals.

Our respective religious organizations offer us an opportunity to develop an ethical framework for our lives and to learn the pathway to the development of higher human activities. Religion provides for the development of a deeper and more fulfilling inner life which then shows itself in our outward interactions with our neighbors. Interfaith works through neighbors meeting other neighbors. It works through people learning to connect with one another. People respond positively to working together to improve the quality of relationships within the community. Interfaith meetings empower people to be able to reach out and bring about positive co-operation and cohesiveness.

In our community we are very fortunate to have religious leaders who work tirelessly to encourage good relationships and interfaith activities. Dr. Geraldine Chapey presented the following religious leaders (in alphabetical order): Rabbi Allan Blaine, Monsignor Martin Geraghty, Father Paul Landolfi, Reverend Jan Powell (unable to attend), Rabbi Marjorie Slome and Rabbi Boaz Tomsky with a certificate from the RCJC in recognition of their outstanding leadership in promoting tolerance, co-operation and positive interfaith activities.

Renee Freeman spoke on the importance of interfaith activities to the fabric of our community. Renee reflected on the long tradition in our community of people working together. As the co-chair of the RCJC and as the President of Hadassah, Renee continuously works with many groups to foster collaboration, sharing and sociability, and Renee stressed that Hadassah meetings are open to all members of the community. Renee Freeman works closely with Marilynn Blicksilver, the program chairperson of Hadassah, to present timely and interesting discussions at their meetings. Renee reminded the audience of the very interesting Hadassah meeting held last year where Father Paul Landolfi and a group of Hadassah leaders discussed the DiVinci Code. Father Landolfi brought his in-depth knowledge of the scriptures and the Bible to the discussion. Everyone who attended felt enriched and invigorated.

Renee presented the lifetime achievement award to Ralph and Lillian Leinoff, Charles and Evelyn Thau and Dr. Fred and Thelma Frieden. Everyone was elated to see the Leinoffs back at the West End Temple and we welcomed them as they arrived from Glens Falls. We all miss their bright smiles, their intellectual exchange and their personable manner. We wish them well in Glens Falls but we sincerely hope that they will come back to visit us often.

Dr. Geraldine Chapey noted that there are a few people that you have the opportunity to meet who really are a powerful force for good. This describes our friends Stan and Elaine Gelda. Dr. Chapey presented Stan and Elaine with a certificate from the RCJC for their strong commitment to enhancing our community. We applaud them for really making a difference. Stan and Elaine Gelda are in the forefront of positive happenings in our city.

Kudos to the fantastic caterer of the RCJC dinner. Bob Lashansky from Max’s Appetizers and Majestic Caterers in the Five Towns did an outstanding job. The presentation of the food was magnificent. The individually prepared to order pasta station was an overwhelming favorite. The carving station received rave reviews for moist, tender and delicious meats. My personal favorite was the stuffed cabbage. My husband’s favorite was the fabulous lox. Everyone at the event was giving Bob Lashansky high marks for his culinary skills. My mother and Frances Abbracciamento were delighted with the wide selection of desserts. I think that they each tasted every one.

The music by Harry Sunday provided a beautiful backdrop for the entire event. He played a variety of holiday favorites, has a great singing voice and he had us all joining in to sing our favorite part of each tune. Al Landau and Selma Kleinman made some great dancing moves. Everyone was tapping their feet.

The RCJC is in the forefront of interfaith activities in our area. Last spring the Rockaway Catholic Jewish Council celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Brother/Sisterhood Essay Awards Breakfast on June 5, 2005 at St. Francis de Sales auditorium. Children from the public and parochial schools in the Rockaways and Broad Channel submitted their essays on Brotherhood and Sisterhood. Parents, siblings, grandparents, relatives and friends of the winners of the contest gathered at the awards breakfast to celebrate those who won the essay contest. We feel that it is important to promote brotherhood and sisterhood among our youth.

Everyone who came to the dinner is a special person. Kudos to you for taking time out of your busy schedule this holiday season to think about promoting positive interfaith relationships.

I want to thank Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer for coming to the dinner. She was leaving for Albany later that evening to attend a committee hearing. It’s always great to see Sandy and Jate Doremus from Councilman Joe Addabbo’s office.

Best wishes to you and your family for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and a Happy Kwanza.

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