The Ethical Culture Society of Essex County
Platform Programs 2013-2014
Platform Programs each Sunday at 11:00 AM
516 Prospect Street, Maplewood, New Jersey 07040
Corner of Parker and Prospect
Sept 7,2014 Martha Gallahue: Opening Day, “2014-15 Essex Ethical Season: Creativity in Practice”
Martha will review and update the community on the progress of our upcoming initiative on Ethical Education — borrowing from Jane Goodall, the Platform will use “from roots to shoots” approach to the topic. She will open the second half of her talk to questions and recommendations. This Platform represents a Part II to the June 9th Platform delivered by Dale McGowan, American Ethical Union’s National Director of Ethical Education. (Meredith Sue Wilson, Social Action Chair, will facilitate the second half of the Platform.)
Martha is member of the AEU’s National Leader’s Council, where she is kept apprised of the progress of ethical education throughout the country. She recently participated in a family sleepover at New York Society for Ethical Cuture.
Sept 14 Ed Barocas: “Privacy and Technology in the Digital Age”
Ed Barocas will “breathe life into the Bill of Rights.” Coming from the perspective of his long involvement as Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, he will explore the issues raised by the Edward Snowden’s exposure of NSA spying and its impact on personal privacy, domestic policy, and international relations.
Ed Barocas has served as Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey since May 2001. In this role he oversees the ACLU-NJ’s legal program. He manages a docket of more than 30 cases, which touch every corner of civil liberties including free speech, religious freedom, equal protection, privacy, reproductive freedom, and due process of law.
Prior to working for the ACLU-NJ, for almost six years Ed served as Special Counsel for the Special Hearings Unit of the Office of Public Defender in Newark. In this role he has represented convicted sex offenders in tier classification and notification hearings and litigated class-action suits challenging the constitutionality of Megan’s Law. He managed the Unit’s largest office, covering six NJ counties. He has also taught a course at Rutgers Law School which presented four areas of constitutional law in the context of Megan’s Law: due process, privacy, cruel and unusual punishment, and ex post facto/double jeopardy punishments.
Prior to serving as Special Counsel, Ed was an Assistant Deputy Public Advocate for the Division of Mental Health Advocacy in Wall, NJ. In this position he advocated for the rights of the mentally ill on individual and hospital-wide bases. He negotiated reform of adolescent behavioral programs and proposed a policy for community placements and for the closure of a psychiatric hospital, which was presented by the Protection and Advocacy Advisory Council to Governor Whitman and was later adopted.
Ed also has copyrights for over 40 comedy and political parody songs. He has performed with members of Blood, Sweat & Tears, and has an album scheduled for release in the Spring of 2010.
Ed attended Rutgers College in New Brunswick and received hifrom the National Law Center at George Washington University.
Sept 21 Jeannie Ginsberg, “My Life’s Work”
A conversation with legendary early childhood educator Jeannie Ginsberg (recipient of an Essex County Legends award last year). Ginsberg, the founder and long-time leader of the Playhouse Cooperative Nursery School, originally in South Orange, made peace and compassion the central principles of her work. She will outline her vision for education based on individual learning, and learning through play, and how that vision evolved over the course of her life.
“Founder the Playhouse Cooperative Nursery School in a South Orange building, Jeanne and the parent volunteers worked together to create an environment that focused on individual learning, learning through play and peace and compassion for children.
Today, the West Orange-based school incorporates these principles in its co-op pre-nursery and nursery programs, transitional kindergarten, all day school and summer camp programs for more than 100 children from Montclair, South and West Orange, Caldwell and Maplewood. The school is also committed to creating classes that reflect cultural, religious and socioeconomic diversity (it offers sliding scale tuition based on annual family income.)” [From kids.baristanet.com/2012/01/coffee-with-jeanne-ginsberg-from-the-playhouse-cooperative-nursery-school/]
Ginsberg (who is turning 95 in Sept.) was the school’s education director for almost 50 years, and retired in the late 1990s.
If Jeannie Ginsberg is indisposed that day, we will have a colloquy on Education, with a focu
September 28 E. Betty Levin, “One Ebullient Camper: Lay Leadership Training in the Smoky Mountains”
Our Ethical Societies are being reinvigorated with fresh ideas! Shared training with 14 other lay leaders from Ethical Culture Societies across the United States, I was inspired by their fertile minds, energy and friendship in our learning experiences. They are indeed Humanist visionaries, as we all are. The professional staff of six possessed the ideal qualities we all desire from our teachers throughout our lives. Frivolity was intermixed throughout the program and even the food was delicious!
I’ll share the rich ideas I learned that I believe will move us toward an increasingly vibrant Society. This potential can increase our numbers and bring greater effectiveness in creating a more humane world. Your input and responses will be welcomed and invaluable during Q&A for contributing to the richness of discussion.
Oct. 5 Martha Gallahue, colloquy on Birthdays, starting with the United Nations’ anniversary, Oct. 24
All participants of this colloquy are invited to bring in an inspirational quote regarding birthdays. We will then provide some birthday reflections based upon experience. Do we sometimes send harmful signals in the way we celebrate them? We will imagine together what an ideal birthday would look like. Will we continue to celebrate individual birthdays? What does it mean to celebrate an organization’s birthday, in particular the birthday of the UN on October 24th? What is the difference between a birthday and an anniversary?
The purpose of this colloquy is to ponder upon the place of the individual in the larger world we live in. Ethical Culture states as one of its ethical premises that we agree to treat individuals as ends not means but can we always? And what outcome can we expect if we pursue this approach while ignoring the common good.
During September, Martha gave considerable attention to preparation of the UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace convened by outgoing President of General Assembly John Ashe along with the celebration of International Peace Day, September 21st. The High Level Forum marked the 15th anniversary of the passage of UN Declaration on Culture of Peace and Programme of Action. Her starting point will be based upon her take-aways from these events. Everyone who comes will receive a birthday present.
Oct. 12 Dr. Joachim Messing, “Genetically altered foods: What do they mean to us?”
Dr. Joachim Messing will start us off on a round table discussion on plants and genetic alteration. He will present some data based on a report of the European Academies, and then expand on that with background drawn from his own research, and his knowledge of the agriculture industry. He will then answer questions.
The winner of the 2014 Promega Biotechnology Research Award is Joachim Messing, Dr. rer. nat, Waksman Institute of Microbiology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey, for his significant contributions to the start of the genomics revolution. Maynard Olson, University of Washington, describes Messing as “an under-recognized hero of the period during which recombinant-DNA applications spread explosively.”
Messing received his doctorate degree from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. After studies at the University of California at San Francisco and Davis, he quickly rose through the faculty ranks at the University of Minnesota. He currently teaches at Rutgers where he is Director of the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and the Waksman Chair in Molecular Genetics.
Conceptualizing and developing whole-genome shotgun DNA sequencing, suitable for contiguous chromosomal sequences, and the M13mp/pUC/JM cloning kits made him the most frequently cited scientist in the world during the 1980s. Messing made his innovations freely available, contributing to rapid advances throughout the life sciences. He applied these microbial tools to help create the field of plant genomics with a focus on raising the nutritional quality of food. For his participation in sequencing the rice genome, he and his colleagues received the World Technology Award in Biotechnology and the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award. In 2013, he won the prestigious Wolf Prize in Agriculture. Messing, a Fellow of the American Association of the Advancement in Science, is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the oldest continuously existing science academy in the world.http://www.asm.org/
Oct. 19 Patrick Gallahue, “A New Approach to Drugs”
The failed war on drugs is driving violence, health crises and mass incarceration around the world. However, models do exist in many parts of the world that increase access to treatment, reduce fatal overdose and drug-related HIV transmission and provide alternatives to incarceration for minor drug offenses. With drug policy reform now clearly on the political agenda, what might better drug policies look like? And more importantly, what can we do to promote alternative approaches?
Patrick Gallahue is a communications officer with the Global Drug Policy Program. Prior to joining Open Society Foundations, Patrick spent three years at Harm Reduction International, researching human rights abuses stemming from drug control. Patrick also worked for seven years as a journalist in New York City, where he wrote about crime, local development, politics, and transport. In addition, he has worked with the International Centre on Human Rights and Drug Policy, Child Workers in Nepal, and The Dome Project’s Juvenile Justice Program.
He holds an LLM in human rights law from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Patrick is the son of ECS leader Martha Gallahue.
Oct. 26 Zia Durrani “Part Two: Reviewing the Ethicists on Ethical Culture”
Zia Durrani will review Joseph Chuman’s book, Speaking of Ethics, and discuss the topics he covers — from the global, to the local, to the deeply personal. "After reading the book I felt I had some of my questions discussed, if not completely answered," she says, "questions such as what does it mean to 'bear witness,' or pursue happiness, or what values are worth preserving. Also towards the end of the book there are stories of people who lived several hundred years ago who were executed for their humanistic beliefs. I learned a lot I didn’t know."
Nov. 2 - Richard Mullen: Exploring Tai Chi (what is Tai Chi and how can it benefit me)
Richard Mullen, who has just begun teaching a Tai Chi class at Ethical on Sunday mornings, will discuss its origins, philosophy, and method — explore the history of Tai Chi, uncover the different styles, and identify the benefits of Tai Chi for health, well-being and self defense.
Richard lives in Maplewood with his wife and two children. When not out having fun with his family or working as a Project Manager for ESI Design in Manhattan he is practicing and teaching Tai Chi Chuan. Currently a student and apprentice instructor for Grand Master William CC Chen in NYC, Richard came to Tai Chi for both it’s health benefits and its self defense techniques. He competes regularly in demonstrations of form as well as the two man martial competition, Push Hands. He will be competing this month in Taipei, Taiwan at the World Cup Tai Chi Chuan Championship competition.
Information & Contact: southmountaintaichi.com, www.facebook.com/southmountaintaichi
Nov. 9 - Dave Gilbert: “PeaceJam: Working toward a Billion Acts of Peace!”
Peacejam is a non-profit educational foundation that works to inspire young people around the world through the lives and work of a dozen Nobel Peace Laureates. Based in Denver, they have been working with youth across the globe since 1996. In 2014 they launched the ‘1 Billion Acts of Peace’ campaign in partnership with Google and other corporate sponsors, to inspire and record a billion peaceful actions by 2019. PeaceJam’s “Peace Starts with Me” campaign was launched on the International Day of Peace, September 21. The PeaceJam curriculum has versions for elementary, middle and high school youth as well as college-agers. They also are developing documentary films about each of the Laureates; the film about Desmond Tutu, “Children of the Light” premiered at Monte Carlo in June, and at Columbia U in September.
Dave tells us, “I was drawn to PeaceJam when my granddaughter learned of it and told her dad. He thought it might be an activity that she and I could do together. Upon learning that there is virtually no PeaceJam programming in the greater NJ/NYC/PA area, I decided to try to promote establishment of what I view as a vital program for today’s young people who will be our future leaders. My wife and I live in Maplewood; I’m mostly retired but still doing occasional consulting work in the insurance field.”
Take a look at www.peacejam.org for more information about the foundation and the Nobel Legacy Film Series.
Nov 16 - Gus Lindquist: “Let’s do it!”
Getting it done is simply what Woody Allen said it was: 90% of success is showing up and doing it. You don’t talk about doing something, you do something and talk about it. It either grows or it doesn’t, and it will grow if it serves the needs or wants of others.
Gus has done and grown many, many things — and he’ll share some of wisdom gained — and still being gained - along that varied and wonderful track record.
A longtime friend of ECS, Hilding “Gus” Lindquist lives in Maplewood. Gus worked as a research data administrator and, for over twenty years, worked developing administrative computer programs. He draws on life experiences from developing administrative systems for a diverse set of organizations. He has also devoted many years to social activism. Since retiring a few years back, he has turned to creating cultural programs dealing with art, music, drama, and poetry.
Nov. 23 - Birgit Matzerath and Bill Edwards: Life and death in Brahms’ “Four Serious Songs”
Birgit Matzerath and Bill Edwards will present a program of music and discussion focusing on Johannes Brahms’ “Four Serious Songs,” a set of four songs that Brahms wrote at the end of his life, contemplating the fundamental question of life and death. The words are taken from the bible, though Brahms himself was possibly agnostic. They will talk briefly about the background, composition and content of the songs, and perform them (which takes about 20 minutes) — Bill Edwards, vocalist, and Birgit on the piano. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUioxhzXEZ0; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vier_ernste_Gesänge
Birgit Matzerath is a pianist, teacher, writer and composer who was born and raised in Germany. She received degrees in music education and piano from the Hochschule fuer Musik and University in Koeln (Cologne), Germany and pursued additional private studies with Oxana Yablonskaya and Seymour Bernstein.
For more than 20 years she taught at community music schools in the Cologne area, before relocating to the US in 2002. After teaching at the Concord Community Music School in Concord, NH for seven years, she relocated to Maplewood, NJ, where now lives and maintains a private studio.
Nov. 30 - Martha Gallahue: Post-Thanksgiving Colloquy on Eating — as a social bond or private struggle
Martha will lead a discussion on our uneasy relationship to eating, what food means to us, and how it is intertwined with other aspects of our lives.
Pearl S. Buck, the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature, is little read today. Born in West Virginia to missionaries and raised in China bilingual in Chinese and English, she not only introduced westerners to the intimate life of the Chinese people, she was also involved in many anti-racist and civil libertarian causes. This talk will tell some of her story and share the speaker's enthusiasms for some of Buck's best books. For a taste of Buck's China writing, take a look at the short story "The Old Demon" online at http://www.meredithsuewillis.com/old demon.pdf. More online resources here.
Meredith Sue Willis is the author of 18 books of fiction and nonfiction. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, New York University, School of Professional Studies and a past president of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County.
Dec. 14 Martha Gallahue: "Speed Deed and other Good Ideas from the American Ethical Union's Ethical Education Conference."
Martha Gallahue will review the national American Ethical Union Ethical EducationConference she attended Nov. 9 in Stony Point, NY, and ideas outlined there could benefit the Essex society in its efforts to build a local program. "Basically, we need to design programs that are active, integral and relevant to where we are today," she said.
Dec. 21 Colloquy on Gifts of the Season
This intergenerational program will be about gifts and sharing what we love most about our various holidays — past and present.
Everyone is invited to tell very briefly — or sing or read — a favorite memory or song or story about this time of the year, whether it be about Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, or simply December! Diwali is over for the year, but it too is a festival of lights, and eid-al-adha, the Muslim celebration of sacrifice, is also over, but includes the custom of exchanging gifts.
What makes one year's celebration more memorable than so many others? What makes us feel good? What do we treasure?
Dec. 28 - Chase Harrison: "The State of US Secondary Education from a Student's Perspective"
The US secondary education system is in a daunting period of overhaul, as America continues to fall in international education rankings. To combat this decline, the US federal government has used programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top to bolster failing schools and produce accountability for teachers. Concurrently, the highly controversial Common Core State Standards are being phased into classrooms, bringing new standardized tests in their wake. On top of this all, there are major pushes to increase STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs in schools. Local school districts, teachers, and students are struggling to comply with these programs in the face of shrinking budgets. Millburn Board of Education member Chase Harrison, who is the youngest elected official in New Jersey history and a recent high school graduate, will examine the state of US secondary education while presenting his experiences trying to help students adjust to these onerous reforms.
Chase Harrison currently serves on the Millburn Board of Education, a position he won last November. When elected, Chase was just 18, making him the youngest public elected official in New Jersey history. Chase has been on FOX Business, Eyewitness News, and in countless newspaper articles to discuss his election and education issues. Chase is also a champion debater and remains one of a handful of students to have appeared in the National Final Round multiple times. He is currently a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, where he is studying International Relations.
Jan. 4 Lorraine Graves, "Food is Too Good to Waste"
Lorraine Graves will outline the big picture regarding food production and consumption,and the millions of tons that get wasted. She will discuss ways that each of us can tackle the issue, cutting down on our own wastage, and how to make sure that more food reaches those who need it.
Lorraine, whose husband Bill is the current president of the society, is a long-time member, whose children are graduates of our education program. Through her work with the EPA, she has been involved with the Food Recovery Challenge, a national effort under the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management Program challenging businesses to reduce the amount of food sent to landfills, and WasteWise, a program that converts food waste into compost, resulting in a reduction in greenhouse gases.
Jan. 11 Kal Wagenheim, "School For Lovers & Other Stories"
Local author and former journalist Kal Wagenheim, who came to Ethical a few years back to discuss his prison writing program, will discuss his latest book, School For Lovers & Other Tales, and also briefly about his earlier novel, The Secret Life of Walter Mott.
Kal Wagenheim (born in Newark, N.J. in 1935) is a journalist (formerly with The New York Times and currently editor of Caribbean UPDATE monthly newsletter), author and translator of eight books, and ten plays and screenplays. His biography of Babe Ruth was a Playboy Book Club selection and was adapted for an NBC-TV film. His novel, The Secret Life of Walter Mott was published in 2010 by All Things That Matter Press, which in 2014 also published his collection of four novellas, School For Lovers & Other Tales. His biography of Roberto Clemente, first published in 1973, was re-issued with new material in 2010 by Markus Wiener Publishers. His one-act plays, The Dream Team, We Beat Whitey Ford, Wegotdates.com, Purple Heart and Coffee With God have been produced at various venues in New York and elsewhere. Coffee With God has been published by the Dramatic Publishing Co. and is being produced at festivals and schools in the USA, Canada and Ireland. His poetry and fiction have been published in the online literary magazine www.jerseyworks.com. His nonfiction articles have been published in The Nation, and The New Republic. He has taught journalism and creative writing at Columbia University and the state prison in Trenton N.J.
Kal is a member of the PEN American Center and The Dramatists Guild of America. Film producers may access his screenplays on the website www.inktip.com Details on his website: www.kalwagenheim.com
Jan. 18 Martha Gallahue and Pamela Booker, "Conversation on Race Relations"
Martha Gallahue and Pamela Booker will hold a public conversation on race relations in the Maplewood/South Orange community. We will discuss specific questions: Should we find ways to interface more closely with the Irvington/Newark neighborhoods close by? How does the national problem of lethal policing with special focus on African American males affect us? How can we contribute to the solutions? What are the ethical mandates that apply?
Pamela Booker, a South Orange resident, is an artist, educator and interdisciplinary writer. Her work integrates creative practice with social change and social justice knowledge, with over 15 years of producing and programming for leading creative arts venues. She recently completed her first novel. She teaches at NYU and Goddard College and has had several art shows internationally.
Martha Gallahue, leader of Ethical Culture Society of Essex County, was introduced to problems between African Americans and local police when she was ten years old, through the Council on Human Rights in Zanesville, Ohio. Martha has served as main representative for National Ethical Service since l997. She has participated (NGO Observer Status) at the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. NES continues its work at the UN on the Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism, Zenophobia and All Forms of Discrimination, the Working Group on Non- violence for LGBTs, on the Committee Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns, United for a Culture of Peace, Faith and Ethics Based Network on The International Criminal Court, The Spiritual Caucus and Committee on Religions. Her vision is to celebrate the emergence of the human collective determined to live in "right relationship with self, others, other cultures, all life, and the greater whole of which we are all a part." (par.16, The Earth Charter)
Jan. 25 Carolyn Dorfman, "Dance as Inspiration and Cultural Bridge"
Dancer/choreographer Carolyn Dorfman, founder and leader of the dance company that bears her name, will explore with us the way she and her performers use movement and music to externalize the inner complexities of mind and memory, and the dynamics of communities that often share more than their histories would suggest.Known as a creator of evocative dances that reflect her concerns about the human condition, Dorfman is interested in creating "worlds" into which the audience can enter. She has created stunning pieces that reflect a spirit and passion for life, people and truth, survival and renewal. Hailed as the consummate storyteller, Dorfman, a child of Holocaust survivors, has also created a celebrated body of work that honors her Jewish legacy; its trials and triumphs, its treasured uniqueness and, most importantly, its universal connections.
A former Assistant Professor of Dance at Centenary College in NJ, Dorfman is a master teacher, mentor and a guest artist/choreographer/lecturer at major universities, pre-professional and professional training programs across the U.S. A former artist and member of the board of the Yard and ArtPride NJ, she is currently on the Artist Committee of the All Stars Project NY/NJ and a member of their NJ Board of Trustees. She is a mentor for Dance USA's mentoring program and is an Honorary Co-Chair of NJPAC's Celebrate Dance Advisory Committee. Ms. Dorfman and the company lead the Dance Division for NJPAC's Arts Education Program and have been the Company- in-Residence at the Academy of Performing Arts/Union County Vocational Technical School in Scotch Plains, NJ since 2008. Dorfman also serves on the advisory boards of the Salem County and Morris County Vocational Technical Schools' dance programs.
Honored with many artistic and civic awards, Dorfman this year is honored to be chosen to receive the 2015 Humanitarian Award from Seton Hall University and The Sister Rose Thering Fund.
Feb. 1 - Polly Kelekis: Global Microfinance: A Hand Up not a Hand Out.
Microfinance — providing access to financial services for low-income people — enables poor, aspiring
microentrepreneurs to start or grow their businesses and generate income to improve the quality of life for themselves and their families. Microfinance is an effective and flexible strategy in the fight against poverty. Everyone deserves access to financial services so they can work their way to a better future.
As Chief Operating Officer of The MicroDreams Foundation, Polly's ultimate goal is empowering poor micro entrepreneurs by providing them with meaningful economic opportunity so they can work their way permanently out of poverty. Polly is responsible for the day-to-day operations of MicroDreams, including new business development, stakeholder relationship management, marketing, outreach and fundraising. Her work in microfinance has taken her to diverse markets, including Tanzania, Honduras, Haiti, Armenia and the South Pacific (Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and the Solomon Islands). Prior to MicroDreams, Polly worked at FINCA International and consulted for the Financial Inclusion Practice Area (FIPA) of the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). Previously, Polly held posts at Accenture and Booz Allen Hamilton and also worked at the Office of Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the Corporate Executive Board. Polly has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business, an MA in International Economics and International Relations from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of The Johns Hopkins University, and a BA from Yale University.
Feb. 8 Dave Hogenauer, "The Origins of South Mountain Reservation"
Dave Hogenauer will cover these questions and more: Who owned the land prior to it becoming a park? Where did the idea of the park come from? How did plans change regarding the boundaries of the park? What happened to the rock at Washington Rock? Did Asher Durand paint in the Reservation? Did the Olmsteads plan the park?
Dave Hogenauer has been leading historical tours of the park since 2008, doing research at the park archives as well as the Millburn-Short Hills Historical Society and elsewhere. He is in the process of writing a book about the park at this time. He was a teacher of history and social studies at Columbia High School for 32 years, retiring in 1996. He most recently wrote a history of Prospect Presbyterian Church in Maplewood for its Centennial celebration. He currently is very active in volunteering for the South Mountain Conservancy in leading hikes, maintaining trails, and clearing trees that fall across those routes. In addition he leads hikes throughout northern New Jersey and southern N.Y. and volunteers with the Appalachian Mountain Club as a naturalist and information desk person in the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.
Martha will hold an open conversation on the face of love... to a baby, a 6 year-old, a teenager, a single adult of any age, to gays, to seniors. What does it mean when we say love makes the world go round? Is love possible in a war? Does silence help or hurt loving relations? What are three essential questions to ask ourselves when we reflect upon love? Can ethics ever be hurtful in the practice of love?
This will be an intergenerational program with child care available.
Feb. 22 - Dr. Adunni Anderson, "African-American History of South Orange and Maplewood"
Dr. Adunni Anderson, Director of the Primary School at Kent Place School and local resident, will speak about the long and rich history of African-Americans in our Essex County towns. Her own family has lived in South Orange for many generations.
Dr. Adunni Anderson was, before joining Kent Place School, assistant principal at the acclaimed Glenfield Gifted and Talented Middle School in Montclair. She is also an active community member serving on numerous boards and committees, including the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, the South Mountain YMCA Board of Managers, the Children's Theatre Workshop/Peppermint Players, Inc., and the Montclair Art Museum, where she is an advisory board member to the education and African American cultural committee. She has been inducted into national and international honor societies and has received numerous honors including the Geraldine R. Dodge Fellowship Award in Leadership and the NAACP Excellence in Education Award. She received her doctorate in educational leadership, management and policy from Seton Hall University and her BA in sociology/psychology and her MA in teaching/urban education from Simmons College.
March 1 Martha Gallahue, "Sustainable Development Goals: Why They Matter"
In September 2015, the General Assembly of The United Nations is scheduled to complete its work and vote to approve a core document of the Rio Post-2015 Development Agenda called Sustainable Development Goals.
They represent the most inclusive commitment made by the UN since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further, they are founded in the universal dignity of all people as they serve also to protect our biosphere. Martha will discuss them and offer some critical assessment of their limitations and at the same time describe how they represent the most expansive level of environmental agreements ever made worldwide. These SDGs as they are now called build upon the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals including lessons learned.
Martha serves as leader for the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. National Ethical Service, an affiliate with the American Ethical Union, Ethical Culture’s National Federation, has been in affiliation with the UN Department of Public Information at the United Nations since 1947; Martha has been with NES since l997 in the capacity of main representative at the UN, president, secretary and now treasurer of this organization. She will offer a thumbnail sketch of NES and remind all members of ethical culture they are also members of NES. Martha has just completed a chapter “Let’s Celebrate the Sustainable Peace Development Goals” in the book Ethics, Spiritual Values and Sustainable Development edited by Rick Clugston and Marion Vilela of Earth Charter Institute. The book is to be published in the Spring by New Frontiers Publishing Company.
March 8 Temma Ehrenfeld, "Women in Ethical Culture by Phyllis Ehrenfeld"
In observance of National Women’s History month, Temma Ehrenfeld, daughter of Phyllis Ehrenfeld, will read Phyllis’ program talk entitled “Women of Ethical Culture 100 Years and Plus” and will add a few tales of her own about her mother and their relationship.
Phyllis Ehrenfeld, former President of National Ethical Service, grew up in Quebec City and studied social work at McGill University School of Social Work in Montreal. She came to New York City with $1,000 she borrowed from her aunt to pursue a PhD in the Department of Contemporary Literature at Columbia University. She wrote novels, poetry and plays, often with ties to current political events or social issues. She received the Arnold Gingrich Award for The Fellowship in Prose from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Five of her plays have been presented in Bergen County. For ten years she was the editor of the American Anorexia Bulimia Association Newsletter, after writing a novel about a bulimic heroine, and was a contributing editor to the Ethical Culture Review of Books. As representative to the UN from the AEU’s National Service Conference, she reported, together with her husband Sylvain Ehrenfeld, on the UN in monthly articles which appeared in a number of newsletters and websites. She co-founded with her Sylvain the Bergen County Chapter of UNA-USA, a group that informs Americans about the work of the United Nations. She died in 2009, leaving behind her husband and two children.
Temma Ehrenfeld is an award-winning journalist on health, relationships, psychology and finance. She has published several short stories and other pieces.
“I would hire her anytime for anything,” wrote Jane Bryant Quinn of Newsweek. She has been from childhood a member of the Bergen Society.
March 15 Janet Rudolph, "The Spiritual Life of an Ethical Humanist: I am Felix Adler's step-child"
“My ethical education inspired me to go on a world tour to quest for spiritual richness and explore the mysteries of life. Now I am returning to my childhood ‘home’ to discuss what that journey has taught me about how to live a life of spiritual fullness from a specifically Ethical Culture point of view. The focus of my work is ‘first knowledge’ or ancient teachings that not only have living application today but are echoed in the work of our present day ethical religious philosophies.”
Janet Rudolph, daughter of ECS member Betty Levin, grew up at our Essex Society. “I raised my own kids at the Long Island Society. I worked with Algernon Black when he was leader emeritus at the NY Society. I have spoken at all three societies (Essex, NY and Long Island). I was a participant at the first lay leadership ‘camp’ in 1996. Since then my journey is probably best described by the bio from my book:
‘Janet Rudolph has traveled throughout the world to study, experience and learn first-hand how the mysteries of life are expressed, blessed, honored and lived in differing lands and traditions. Along the way she has danced on sandy beaches, climbed pyramids, experienced initiations, been ordained as shaman, stepped in the processional pathways of the ancients, felt standing stones against her skin, walked spirals and labyrinths, and hugged the earth in its oneness and many sacred facets. She has experienced Israeli and Egyptian deserts, lush Incan and Mayan rain-forests, windswept southern French castles, rain drenched Orkney stone temples, wildly rushing Pacific Northwest mountain streams, and ancient Grecian oracular shrines.’”
March 22 Anisa Mehdi, "The Journey to Pilgrimage"
Emmy Award-winning journalist and filmmaker Anisa Mehdi is a pioneer whose work in mainstream American broadcast news spans three decades. Inspired by her pioneering father Dr. Mohammad T. Mehdi’s efforts to amplify the story of Palestine in the USA from the 1960s-1990s, and irked by media bias against that story, she determined to join the corps of reporters and contribute to the conversation on how to cover Arab and Muslim stories both at home and abroad. She has worked for CBS News, New York; Eyewitness News, Boston; PBS; ABC News “Nightline” and National Geographic Television & Film, teaming with Bill Moyers, Ted Koppel, Meredith Vieira, Tom Bettag, John Bredar, Maurice Murad and others. During her career Anisa helped newsrooms expand their roster of contacts to include diverse American Muslim scholars of Islam and American Arab experts on the Middle East. Anisa’s award-winning television stories on the arts forged new ground for minority beat reporters in the USA. She is the first American woman to cover the Hajj pilgrimage for broadcast. “Inside Mecca,” her acclaimed documentary film on the Hajj, is a staple in religious studies classes across the country. Her most recent film premiered on PBS nationwide in December 2014.
Anisa Mehdi was a 2009-2010 Fulbright Scholar in Jordan. She consults to the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and teaches documentary film at Seton Hall University. Anisa holds degrees from Wellesley College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a trustee of the Esalen Institute and vice chair of the Abraham Path Initiative. Currently an independent producer/director, educator and writer, Anisa is recognized by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists for her insights: “Current events reporting often confuses faith, culture, and politics. Anisa Mehdi helps sort them out.”
Global Action Project (GAP) is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 whose mission is to work with young people most affected by injustice to build the knowledge, tools and relationships needed to create media for community power, cultural expression and political change. With the country being fractured around issues of race, tolerance, immigration and civil liberties, GAP’s young storytellers play an important role in diversifying the national conversation by offering perspectives not frequently covered in mass media.
Leena Khandwala, a board member of GAP and a South Orange resident, is an associate with Claudia Slovinsky and Associates, PLLC, located in NYC, where she practices in many areas of immigration law, including deportation defense, family-based petitions, naturalization, asylum, self-petitions under the Violence Against Women Act, visas for victims of certain crimes, as well as employment-based visas.
April 5 - Laura Zinn Fromm: "Tales of Cooking and Coping"
Laura Zinn Fromm, the author of the new book Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping,will talk about her book and the challenges, stresses and excitement of writing it, and promoting it. The book - and her talk - explore the intertwining of life's struggle and the foods that provide the best compensatory comfort at traumatic moments, or just the right celebratory enhancement.
Laura Zinn Fromm, who lives in Short Hills, holds an BA from Wellesley College and an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University, teaches fiction and creative non-fiction through New York Writers Workshop. A former editor at Business Week magazine, she is a winner of the Clarion Award and the Newspaper Guild's Page One Award for Labor Reporting.
April 12 What Ethical Culture Can Learn from Other Traditions and Faiths-- A New Series
Peggy Pilch for Steve Pitts on the Eckankar Movement-- "What is spiritual survival and why is it important?"
Steve Pitts will tell us about the Eckankar movement and its approach to spirituality. According to Wikipedia, "Primary to the teaching is the belief that one may experience the perspective of soul beyond the limits of the body. Also, the concepts of karma and reincarnation help to explain situations in life as the playing out of past causes. The beliefs that individuals are responsible for their own destiny and that their decisions determine their future are important concepts to Eckankar. "
His topics will include: What is spiritual survival and why is it important? How do YOU get through a difficult situation? Giving up old patterns. What no longer works for you? Soul, our true identity, is always in survival mode; the human consciousness is not. Why we need help with spiritual survival and how we get it. What are the tools that we need for spiritual survival? Using creativity to solve problems and overcome obstacles What makes survival easier? Love and a sense of adventure about life.
Steve Pitts has a career in the healthcare field. He has been a member of the Eckankar clergy for more than 26 years. Steve has facilitated numerous classes and workshop presentations on a wide range of spiritual topics, from embracing divinity to the joy of being. He strives to help people recognize their true nature and to live a happier and more harmonious life. Steve resides in Mercer County, New Jersey.
April 19 Martha Gallahue, Remembrance, Our Civic Duty
On Sunday, April 19, 2015, the 38th Annual SO/Maplewood Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service will be held at St. Joseph's Church in Maplewood at 4 p.m. The service is a major interfaith event in our communities. In light of recent events, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, it seems very important to remember and tell what happened in our past and to be aware of what is happening in our present.
In honor of this service, Martha will speak to the necessity of remembrance in order to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice ... has brought untold sorrow to (hu)mankind and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person." [UN Charter] Ethical Culture Society is the first peace site in the country and as such continues to educate for the promotion of the culture of peace.
Martha, co-founded and serves on the steering committee for Global Movement for the Culture of Peace at the UN (www.gmcop.org). They recently co-sponsored another High Level Forum on The Culture of Peace, convened by the President of the General Assembly, which is archived on the UN webcast: UN Webcast Archives www.un.org/webcast/archive.htm Her first priority is to promote a culture of peace in line with the NES Mission and through Global Movement for the Culture of Peace. She does this through advocacy with the groups mentioned above, presentation of Platform Talks in Societies, and development of the Rose L. Walker Fund. Her focus on promotion of The Culture of Peace includes interfaith/interspiritual cooperation and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. She is a representative for United Religions Initiative at the UN.
"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die." — Thomas Campbell
April 26 Howard Gilman, "Maplewood's July Fourth Celebration"
Maplewood's annual celebration, organized by the July Fourth Committee of the Maplewood Civic Association, promises a full day of family fun, a hometown community experience, featuring an old-fashioned circus and dazzling fireworks.Several of us at ESEC were there last year especially Lisa Novemsky, who made the children's percussion program possible.Over a century ago, July Fourth in Maplewood was celebrated with a town- wide picnic, a keynote speaker (usually a politician), athletic contests and barbecues. Citizens, generally in groupings by neighborhood, made their way to the picnic grounds. Informal processions gradually turned into elaborate parades with costumes and bands, becoming fierce (and expensive) competitions between neighborhoods.The July Fourth Committee was formed to unite the township activities. Eventually the Maplewood Civic Association was organized, encompassing the Committee and dedicated to a tradition of family-oriented July Fourth celebrations. Howard will describe his involvement with Maplewood's July Fourth committee, present a slide show introduction and discuss the history and process of what it takes to stage one of this community's favorite happenings. Howard resides in Maplewood with his wife Alice. See the Fourth's website, www.maple4th.com/ and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/July-4th-Committee-of-the-Maplewood-Civic-Association.
May 3 The Solidarity Singers' Annual ECS May Day Concert and Sing-Along
The Solidarity Singers of the New Jersey Industrial Union Council will perform as the
platform in honor of May Day and Labor History month
The Solidarity Singers will celebrate the Workers' Holiday with songs of labor and the
continuing struggle for justice. There will be familiar songs and/or songs with easy to
We will highlight the effects of financial crises on workers and non-upper-class people in
general. We have sung at rallies and protests in front of banks who are reluctant to lend
but eager to foreclose on peoples' homes. We will share some of those songs. We will
also do some great songs of labor history past, some of which are unfortunately quite
relevant to today.
"We are a street chorus, not a concert choir. Our preferred venue is a picket line. We try
to lift the spirits of people engaged in struggle and help them to carry on. Only a few of
us know how to read music, but we all know which side we're on."
Over the past seventeen years, the Solidarity Singers have appeared hundreds of times on
picket lines, at rallies for labor and other progressive causes, and in occasional concert
settings, including the annual May Day celebrations at the Botto House/American Labor
Museum, commemorations of the hundredth anniversary of Woody Guthrie's birth
and many others. The group is available for scheduling through its director, Bennet D.
Zurofsky, at (973) 642-0885, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A number of our members, including Lisa Novemsky, Rosalie Sussman, Barbara Cotler
and Diane Beeney are long-time members and hopefully will be singing with them.
May 10 (Grand)Mother's Day Colloquy led by Martha
Martha will facilitate a colloquy on the unique contribution grandparents offer in child raising from a grandmother's perspective. We will begin with a share of ethical stories grandparents have to share. How sometimes grandparents become their grandchildren's confidents, etc. We will discuss a few of the challenges of inter-generational relationships such as confidentiality, for example. As children learn early in life, they have skills many of their parents do not have, there can often be tension regarding parental authority. Grandparents often have an opportunity to nurture healthy respectful relationships through humor and story telling in the midst of these tensions.
Martha is grandparent of three between the ages of 1-9. She is also great-aunt to 11 children ages 35-13.
May 17 Annual Meeting of the Ethical Culture Society Membership
All members are invited to attend the Annual Meeting of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. Hear a brief re-cap of the year just past and help make plans for the year ahead. We will vote on the budget and for our Board of rustees for the coming year.Enjoy refreshments and a chance to catch up with friends at 10 a.m. The meeting will start promptly at 10:30 a.m. and will conclude by 12:30 p.m.
May 24 Dr. Alissa Gardenhire, "Love, Intimacy and Trust: A Public Matter"
In this talk I will discuss what is and what is possible for human intimacy. Today too many of us live at arm's length from one another. Many people, adults, children, singles, marrieds, family members and friends walk the earth heartbroken and fearful of connecting with others. Behind the veil of computers, tablets, phones and the virtual realities of social media we are social and disconnected. We hide behind our gadgets or our roles and from there we are "safe" but alone. From there too many of us are unable to ever truly know or be known by another. While gadgets and technology are easy to blame, the true source of our isolation is ourselves. We hide because intimacy, love and trust are risky and downright scary to most.
But love and intimacy are what we all truly desire. It is human to want to love and be loved, known and know another. These are our basic necessities for our lives and true wellbeing. Brené rown, author and expert who writes about vulnerability, courage, shame and authenticity writes "I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship." Yet without a shock to the way things are we will continue down the road of shallow connections, technological camouflage and broken heartedness. I've found in my work that even people in long term relationships, marriages and other family relationships can be virtual strangers to one another and most strangers never will become friends if we don't learn to get comfortable with intimacy. Without intimacy we don't truly live.Everybody talks about connection and intimacy but no one is doing anything about it. As an international love and intimacy guru and coach, I had to take a stand for Love, Intimacy and Trust. Closeness, connection and intimacy MATTER.
Dr. Alissa Gardenhire is an international love, intimacy and sexuality coach working with individuals, couples and groups to create better communication around intimacy in all its forms. With a goal of improving how people relate, are true to themselves in their relationships and get the pleasure life has to offer them through their strengthening ability to be intimate and connect with others. For her connection and intimacy are life.
May 31 - Barbara Lipton and Zia Durrani: "Discovering World Sacred Music in Fes"
Intrepid travelers Barbara Lipton and Zia Durrani journeyed together to Fes, Morocco. Illustrating their descriptions with Barbara's photographs and with CDs, they will share their experience there of the annual celebration of sacred music from around the world, with a special focus on Sufi music.
ECS Board Member Zia Durrani was born and raised in Kashmir, India, where she lived until 1963. Educated in India and England, she was a teacher of English in a women's college in Srinagar, her home town, until she married and left Kashmir to live briefly in Madras, and then moved to London. Zia came to the US in 1976, and lived in various places before coming to South Orange. Zia has three children: her two girls live in New Jersey and her son lives in Kansas.
ECS Friend Barbara Lipton previously worked at the Newark Museum as Library Director and Special Projects Director: curator of Whaling Days in NJ, SURVIVAL: Life and Art of the Alaskan Eskimo; Director and Curator, Tibetan Museum, Staten Is., NY; Adjunct Professor of Art History The New School, SUNY Purchase, Drew University, Montclair University. Currently Chair, Exhibitions Committee, Atlantic Highlands Arts Council; Speakers Bureau, the Newark Museum. She has exhibited her photographs and has spoken at ECS a number of times, on "Masks — Art and eremony" (Oct. 2013) and, with Zia Durrani, on the handcrafts they saw on a trip to Gujarat, India (Apr. 2012).
June 7 Nomi Colton-Max, "I still believe in Zionism, Peace and a Two State Solution"
Using Florence Weisz' uplifting installation on display at the Ethical Cultural Society, "Stones ofResonance: Jerusalem," Nomi will discuss how a small space shared by so many different people must still be resolved peacefully. Just as Florence looks at the stones through different angles, Nomi will articulate why a two state solution remains the best and safest option for the State of Israel.
Trained as a foreign policy analyst specializing in the Arab World and the Persian Gulf, Nomipreviously worked at the Council on Foreign Relations and a private energy consulting firm. She holds degrees from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and McGill University. She has lived, worked and traveled throughout the region and speaks Hebrew, Arabic and French.
Nomi is a proud Progressive Zionist. She grew up in Habonim Dror in Canada and both her professional and personal development has been centered on Israel and the Middle East. Nomi iscurrently president of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, New Jersey. She is a long time member of Ameinu, having served as an executive member for several years. She has been a member of the Metrowest Jewish Community Relations Council; a member of the Habonim-Dror Na'aleh Camp Committee; and been involved in the American Zionist Movement. Nomi's political and social advocacy started before her bat mitzvah and she is a proud parent of two boys that have inherited her desire to work to improve the world. Nomi lives in South Orange with her just-as-involved and politically engaged husband Harold and her two sons. Nomi and Harold are recent Star of Essex award recipients for their service to the Jewish community and contribution to the lives of Essex county residents.
Opera singer Lori Mirabal will present a personal journey in music and talk. She will describe how shebecame an artist, and discuss her life, her influences and the songs that inspired her. Lori Brown Mirabal, a native of Tennessee and now a Maplewood resident, is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts. She also has a Master's Degree in Voice Performance from Manhattan School of Music where she received a scholarship from Oprah Winfrey.
She has sung many roles in many places, including Shenyang, China where she was a featuredsoloist in an international New Year's Eve Gala sponsored by the United States and China Foundation. She also appeared with Opera Ebony on a PBS "Great Performance" television documentary entitled Aida's Brothers and Sisters which discusses the lives of African Americans in opera. Ms. Mirabal has sung a variety of roles in concert halls, opera houses and theatres throughout the United States and abroad including New York City Opera (as Carmen), L'Opera De Monte Carlo (Lola/Cavalleria Rusticana), Dicapo Opera Theatre (Lucretia/The Rape of Lucretia), State Repertory Opera of New Jersey (Augusta/The Ballad of Baby Doe), Central City Opera (Tituba/The Crucible), Carnegie Hall (Soloist/West Side Story Suite), and Broadway's Gershwin Theatre (Queenie/Showboat).
She also created a series of children's programs called "Opera for the Very Young" which she performs throughout New York and New Jersey, and her own company for children, Opera Soup. She teaches music at Kent Place School.
Providing the piano accompaniment for Lori Mirabal's performance will be multiple Grammy® Nominee and 2008 Grammy® Nominee for Best Instrumental Soloist without Orchestra, pianist Allison Brewster Franzetti, who has received international acclaim from critics and audiences alike for her stunning virtuosity and musicality, both as a soloist and chamber musician. Her most recent performance includes the 2008 Grammy® Awards Classical Music Tribute to Earl Wild and Lang Lang at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Currently, Ms. Franzetti serves on the board of directors for ArtPride, an organization that supports arts advocacy in the state of New Jersey, and is on the advisory board of Arts High in Newark, New Jersey.
Coming Attractions, Next Fall!
Nkosi Anderson on What Ethical Culturalists Can Learn from Christianity
Nkosi Anderson is currently a PhD student in Christian Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, NY. His family has deep multigenerational roots in South Orange and Maplewood. He is the son of Drs. Herman and Adunni Anderson and brother to Anwar Anderson. A product of First Baptist Church of South Orange, Nkosi graduated from Columbia High School in 1997.
He has worked in public education, government, academia and with religious, nonprofit, and community groups. Nkosi remains committed to a number of movements for social justice and is active in a variety of organizations including South Mountain Peace Action, YouthNet, The Poverty Initiative / Kairos Center, Mother's Kitchen, and The Roots Project, Inc.
Nkosi holds a BA in Political Science and an MA in African-American Studies, both from Columbia University. He also received his MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, NY.