NYS court to look at recognition of same-same marriages from elsewhere

A big story down the road?

New York state’s highest court said this week it will hear two appeals in cases trying to stop public officials from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Officials in NYS cannot perform same-sex marriages, but the two cases involve Westchester County Exec Andrew Spano and the NYS Department of Civil Service recognizing gay marriages performed elsewhere.

I should note that the Iowa Supreme Court today struck down a law banning same-sex marriage. So Iowa is on the way to joining Connecticut and Massachusetts as the only states where gay marriage is legal.

Appreciation for the interfaith seder

Interfaith seders are held everywhere these days. I’ve certainly taken them for granted.

A few days ago, though, when I was looking for a column idea for the Saturday before Passover and Holy Week, I decided to attend the 32nd annual interfaith seder run by the Coalition for Mutual Respect in New Rochelle.

I’m glad I did.

They use a 47-page, special Haggadah that the coalition — led by Rabbi Amiel Wohl — has put together over the years. It incorporates the main prayers from any Passover prayerbook with an assortment of explanations and quotations that give Christians, African Americans and others their own seats at the seder table.

I’ll write about it for my FaithBeat column on Saturday.

Almost a year since the fire

Next week — Sunday, April 12 — will be the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Rabbi Jacob Rubenstein and his wife, Deborah.

They died in a nightime house fire that left their community of Young Israel of Scarsdale in shock and terrible grief.

Several months later, as the High Holidays approached, I wrote about how the congregation was coping.

Now, Judith Lederman, a member of the congregation and a public relations pro, has been writing on her blog about the upcoming anniversary.

She started with remembering the day:


Some moments hang in the air with the vivid memory of the odor of dank smoke for a lifetime, maybe more.  My motto is, “Crumbling is not an option!” But that day I crumbled.  Fell to my knees at the gates of the synagogue in agony.  My Rabbi, my mentor, my confidant, my father-figure, my friend.  His wife – the woman who complimented me, supported me.

Lightening struck their house, they were gone – forever.

Saturday – THAT holy Saturday – the Saturday before Passover, the holiday of renewal and liberation – it is supposed to be a day of rest, of anticipation, of excitement.  Mourning is forbidden on Saturday.  Sniffles, sobs, and choking sounds filled the sanctuary as we all tried to maintain a semblance of peace, the kind that is never supposed to be blighted by the horrific tear in the fabric of a community.

‘It’s Tim on line 1’

If you place a call or send an email to Archbishop Timothy Dolan, you have a real good chance of getting your call returned.

You might even hear, “Hey, it’s Tim.”

Stories are flying about New York’s new archbishop reaching out to anyone and everyone, including people who have been calling or writing simply to wish him well.

He’s even called people to decline invitations to various events. Heck, I’ve never been able to get parents to RSVP for my kids’ birthday parties.

This is a very social being who were are meeting here.

Plans are taking shape for Dolan to host a series of barbeques at St. Joseph’s Seminary — two for diocesan priests, one for priests, nuns and brothers from religious orders, and one for permanent deacons and their spouses.

This much is clear: The man is going to talk.

But what is he going to say?

We’ll get a preview, I guess, at his press conference on the morning of the Mass of Installation on April 15.

Hope in hard times

The Episcopal Church is offering a free booklet to help faith communities “nurture a culture of generosity and hope” during these uncertain times.

The publication — available for immediate download — is called “Find Hope in Hard Times: Seven Spiritual Practices.”

“Christian hope is based on trust,” the Rev. Laurel Johnston, the Episcopal Church’s Program Officer for Stewardship, said in a statement. “Trust that God will continue to fulfill God’s promise in a new way to each generation that leads to freedom, free to be the people God intended us to be. The ‘Finding Hope in Hard Times’ resource guide invites communities of faith to take on seven disciplines that nurture hope and a path towards spiritual and financial freedom.”

Here are the sections you’ll find: Count Your Blessings; Count Your Cash; Learn to be Content; Choose a Simpler Lifestyle; Keep on Giving; Rebuild Spiritual Communities; and A Financial Downturn can be a Spiritual Upturn.

Each section includes a suggested action and a “Pause for Reflection.”

Print copies can be obtained through ebr@episcopalchurch.org or at 800-903-5544 or by going to www.episcopalbookstore.org.

Are you guilty of ‘moneytheism?’

The left-leaning World Council of Churches sees the global financial crisis as an opportunity for Christians to get their monetary house in order.

The time has come, the WCC says, for people to move away from greed and “moneytheism.”

That would be the worship of money.

The WCC puts it like this: “For Christians there is more to the economic crisis than meets the eye. For the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), there is a spiritual perspective on the crisis according to which it is necessary – with God’s grace – to overcome greed and “moneytheism”. People need to rethink and change their lifestyles so that everyone may have life with dignity within a context of respect for the creation.”

About those fish bars packed in jelly…

Gefilte fish.

Not everyone can stand it.

Not everyone can look at it.

But if you’re going to a seder, you may well have to face it.

My colleague Linda Lombroso writes today about a market in New Square that makes the real thing: homemade gefilte. In 12 varieties.

And they sell live carp in case you want to make your own.

Linda writes: “During the busy season, the live fish are delivered daily in a tanker truck and kept outside in a large vat of water. They range from 4 to 55 pounds in weight and are carried into the market in the arms of workers.”

Good stuff. There’s more: “The ground carp and onions are then mixed with salt, sugar and eggs, cracked only after their shells have been rinsed with lukewarm water. The mixture is formed into loaves, cooked in a seasoned water bath and wrapped in kosher-for-Passover paper. A loaf of gefilte fish, which can serve seven people, sells for $7.75, says Kupperman. Fresh carp, which is also cut into steaks, retails for $7.49 a pound.”

What about the clear jelly you get in the Manischewitz jar?

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting hungry.

Running for ‘Relief & Development’

As a recreational runner — I do 4 miles or so on days when I feel limber-ish — I don’t quite get the whole marathon thing.

I mean…how do you do it?

Anyway, you would expect clergy runners to pound the pavement for a higher purpose. And that’s what brings us to Father Tim Schenck, rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Briarcliff Manor.

He’s a runner. The real deal. He’ll be running the Providence Marathon in May — his fourth big run.

He’s using the occasion to raise money for Episcopal Relief & Development, which does good work in times of crisis around the globe.

On his (very funny) blog, Father Tim wrote recently about the marathon runner’s life:


For me, the hardest part about running a marathon isn’t race day. Despite a few close encounters with “The Wall,” the marathon itself isn’t the toughest piece. It’s the training. It’s the four-month mileage buildup to make sure you can make it to the finish line. That’s the part that no one sees. Unless you’re the spouse of a marathoner and you’re used to getting woken up at oh-dark-thirty by your clumsy runner-husband who trips over his shoes in the dark.