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Avraham NeguisePress release from Congregation B’nai Israel

In celebration of Israel Independence Day, Congregation B’nai Israel will host a special guest speaker on the evening of Thursday, May 12. The 7 p.m. event will feature Dr. Avraham Neguise on the topic of “Israel Today: My Story, Our Mission.”

Born in Ethiopia, Dr. Neguise was elected to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) in 2015, where he continues his mission of championing diversity and education.  He will provide a political update on events in Israel and changes in Israeli society.

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643_TheKennedysfinal1It’s called the Earth Room Concerts series — mainly “because of the attractive stained glass in the sanctuary where concerts are held,” but also in a way that the new slate of programming at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County takes a more expansive worldview of the kinds of music currently in regular rotation on Shore area stages.

Designed to “fill a local gap” by bringing nationally known folk and singer/ songwriter artists to Monmouth County — acts that are more commonly seen and heard at festivals and venues in NYC and North Jersey — the series fulfills its mission from the get-go in its inaugural show this Saturday evening, April 23, when the UUCMC Meetinghouse gives the greater Red Bank audience its first-ever local look at an acclaimed modern folk duo that’s been enchanting listeners on both sides of the Atlantic for decades: the husband/wife team known as The Kennedys.

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RabbiPress release from Monmouth Reform Temple

In the words of Rabbi Marc Kline of Monmouth Reform Temple, Rabbi Uri Regev commands respect from Jews (and non-Jews) from all walks of the spectrum.

“As one of the founding strong voices of the Israeli Religious Action Center, now past President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, and now as founder and executive director of Hiddush (a multi-cultural activist think tank), Uri’s name has become synonymous with progressive egalitarian change,” Rabbi Kline explains.

On Saturday, May 7, the internationally renowned Rabbi Regev will give a series of free talks at MRT, 332 Hance Avenue in Tinton Falls. The public is invited to the special event, scheduled from 3 to 8 p.m., and a buffet dinner will be served.

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just_inA Fair Haven volunteer firefighter was arrested and charged with arson Saturday, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced Sunday evening.

Nicholas Joyce, 19, was alleged to have set a fire to a storage shed behind a church Friday afternoon. He then went to the borough firehouse, where he responded to the fire with other volunteers, according to Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

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Dean Ross, founder of the “Shine a Light Foundation,” has announced the second annual “Shine a Light” free lighting for bicycles program in the Red Bank Area. The program, which last year helped to save countless lives by installing lights on more than 200 bicycles free of charge, returns to St. Anthony of Padua Church Parish Center on the evening of Monday, April 4.

During the 5 to 7 p.m. rain-or-shine event co-sponsored by St. Anthony Social Concerns Ministry and Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, all bicycle owners are invited to bring their bikes to the Parish Center on Herbert Street, where the equipment will be installed for free.

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st crispin's 030316Architect Ned Gaunt’s rendering of the proposed St. Crispin’s Social Ministry House on the St. Anthony of Padua campus. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


At a hearing packed with supporters, and without a peep of objection, Red Bank’s zoning board gave unanimous approval Thursday night to a plan by St. Anthony of Padua parish to build a new social services facility on Herbert Street.

“They’ve obviously been very beneficial to the town,” said board member Sean Murphy, citing the church and its volunteers. “Unfortunately, the need is growing, but we’re very fortunate to have them.”

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Keshia ThomasPress release from Monmouth Reform Temple

In an announcement earlier this week, Monmouth Reform Temple announced that social activist and motivational speaker Keshia Thomas will be the special guest speaker at the Shabbat evening service on Friday, March 11. During the service that begins at 7 p.m., Ms. Thomas will speak on the topic of “The Power of One.”

Keshia Thomas gained national prominence as a teenager in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  In 1996, in an incident pictured here, she threw herself on a white man to protect him from the beatings of an angry mob who believed he was a supporter of the Ku Klux Klan. A high school student at the time, she chose to become a human shield for a man she did not know. That moment propelled her on a path of social justice that reverberates through her to this day.  Last summer, she participated in America’s March for Justice, walking the entire 1000 mile path from Selma, AL, to Washington, DC.

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16 herbert st 030216St. Anthony of Padua parish hopes to win approval to raze this house and garage to construct a new building to provide social services. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


The needs are evident in the long lines that form at St. Anthony of Padua in Red Bank: families short on cash for food, housing, clothing and other necessities.

Now served out of a multipurpose building on Herbert Street, where the food pantry and clothing distribution operations must be set up and taken down with regularity, the Roman Catholic parish hopes to erect a new dedicated social services building, and is scheduled to make its case to the borough zoning board Thursday night.

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Lincroft PresbyterianPress release from Lincroft Presbyterian Church

While some people celebrated Valentine’s Day with a card, a romantic dinner, gold-foiled chocolates in a heart-shaped box or a bouquet of beautiful red roses, members of Lincroft Presbyterian Church, took the matters of love straight to the heart, and hosted two successful recent events: a February 6 Chili Cook-Off, and a February 11 Unity in Diversity Jazz Service to benefit two neighbor organizations, immediately prior to the day of love.

The two events raised more than $1,500 for 180 Turning Lives Around and Family Promise of Monmouth County, which offer the only places of sanctuary in Monmouth County for families facing domestic violence or homelessness.

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pam-jenoffPress release from Congregation B’nai Israel

Novelist Pam Jenoff served as Vice Consul for the US State Department in Krakow, Poland and is an expert on Poland and the Holocaust.  On the morning of Sunday, February 28, Pam Jenoff speaks at Congregation B’nai Israel in Rumson about the role her State Department experiences played in shaping many of her novels.

Jenoff’s internationally best-selling debut novel The Kommandant’s Girl was based on actual events and was cited by Publisher’s weekly for its “luminous simplicity….”and hailed as “a breathtaking debut. “  This poignant Holocaust story – a suspenseful “page-turner” – is on the reading list of several area Book Clubs.  Jenoff’s talk will be followed by book sales and author signings.

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MLK PrinzA free screening of a documentary on Rabbi Joachim Prinz (left, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) is among the events scheduled during a weekend-long MLK Day observance, presented jointly by Monmouth Reform Temple (Tinton Falls) and Pilgrim Baptist Church (Red Bank).

Press release from Monmouth Reform Temple

Continuing a recently established tradition, Monmouth Reform Temple of Tinton Falls and Pilgrim Baptist Church of Red Bank join forces for a weekend-long slate of activities honoring the memory and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The observance begins on Friday night, January 15 with MRT Shabbat services at 7 pm, featuring special guest Dr. Everett McCorvey, chair of the Opera Department at the University of Kentucky and Director of the National Chorale. Dr. McCorvey grew up in segregated Montgomery, AL alongside Dr. King’s children, and has risen to national prominence as a soloist, conductor, and educator.

The weekend will culminate with a noon MLK service at Pilgrim Baptist Church led by Pastor Terrence Porter on Monday, January 17 at noon. Rabbi Mark Kline and Cantor Gabrielle Clissold of MRT will participate in the service, along with a joint performance by the PBC and MRT choirs. All events are free and open to the public.

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Chorale_Group_wo_conductorThe Shrewsbury Chorale is looking to corral some new voices — and for the next two Tuesday evenings, the public is invited to join in the chorus of community.  

It’s one of those local treasures whose activity in the community extends back nearly 60 years, as the Shrewsbury Chorale prepares to embark upon its 59th season of choral classics and popular repertoire, presented in settings that have ranged from the modestly-scaled historic churches of Monmouth County to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and Carnegie Hall.

For the next couple of Tuesdays, the community arts organization gets back to its roots, extending an invitation to all interested singers to join in a pair of open rehearsals hosted at the Chorale’s regular Tuesday evening rehearsal venue, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County in Lincroft.

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PILGRIM baptistWith the holiday interlude entered into the books for another year — and with the coming of the seasonally chilly weather that somehow skirted us during a disconcertingly mild December — it’s easy to forget that there are still numerous neighbors who are in need of a helping hand this winter, and still many ways in which to help.

Here at the start of 2016, Pilgrim Baptist Church is serving as the setting for the Annual Community Coat Drive, conducted by the grass-roots Community Collaborative Coalition of Red Bank and designed to outfit men, women and children with warm overcoats and other winter-weather wearables. From now through Sunday January 22, the church building at 172 Shrewsbury Avenue is accepting new or gently used coats of all shapes, styles and sizes, to be distributed during a “Project Community Cares Event” going on at PBC between the hours of 9 am and 2 pm on Wednesday, January 27.

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UUCMCNJThe Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse offers an opportunity for quiet reflection on New Year’s Day — and some spirited dialogue every Sunday morning thereafter.  

The resolutions that we make on New Year’s Eve may constitute some bold and fearless talk — but in the cold light of New Year’s Day, it’s not always so easy to walk that walk. Fortunately, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County offers all members of the community the opportunity to start 2016 off on a good foot or two, by “walking the labyrinth” for some moments of quiet reflection and meditation as you begin another journey around the sun with the best of intentions and hopes for the months ahead. The (temporary) labyrinth will be installed inside the Earth Room at the Unitarian Meetinghouse between the hours of 3 to 6 pm on Friday, and there will be light refreshments served up in the nearby Community Room, with all attendees invited to contribute a dessert to this free and all-welcome event.

While New Year’s Day comes and goes in a flash, the UUCMC’s Sunday Dialogs events remain a year-round happening at the West Front Street place of worship — and the long-running lecture series on timely topics will be wasting no time getting down to the matter at hand here in 2016, as the Meetinghouse welcomes guest speaker Russell Binaco to the lectern this Sunday morning, January 3.

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Black Nativity 2010A cast of some 45 actors, singers, dancers and community members brings the theatrical gospel celebration BLACK NATIVITY back to the Count Basie Theatre this Sunday, December 27, in the return of a local tradition from Dunbar Repertory Company. (Photo courtesy Richard Krauss)  

When it was first presented to Broadway audiences back in 1961, the theatrical experience known as Black Nativity was little more than a 40-page outline of a script on paper; an adaptation of the Gospel of St. Luke that was infused with the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes. In their fully fleshed form, however, the words came to life through a mix of traditional spirituals like “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” African American dance forms, colorful costumes, and an improvisatory element that encourages local clergy, schoolchildren and public officials to get into the act everywhere that Nativity has become the stuff of tradition, from Savannah, GA to Seattle, WA and numerous points between.

Beginning about the turn of the new millennium, Black Nativity became the stuff of Monmouth County tradition, when Darrell Lawrence Willis Sr. first presented its “powerful message of joy, hope, victory and liberation” at Manasquan’s landmark Algonquin Theatre, in a staging by Dunbar Repertory Company, the producer-director’s grassroots troupe dedicated to presenting the works of African American playwrights. Re-emerging at the Count Basie Theatre in 2010 (where Willis, a now-retired faculty member at Brookdale Community College, has served as a board member for ten years), the production quickly staked out a place as a year-end centerpiece of community life for performing artists and church congregations from all around Monmouth. Following a one-year hiatus, Black Nativity returns to the Basie stage this Sunday afternoon, December 27, for its fifth Red Bank appearance — a re-energized and highly anticipated extension of the Yueltide season, about which Willis found time to chat with redbankgreen.

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