Going gospel

Make it perfect: Singers from the Bay Ridge Jewish Center and the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir practiced one anothers’ songs before a “gospel Shabbat” service at the center on March 13.
The Brooklyn Paper
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What harmony!

A gospel choir joined folks from an array of faiths for a “Gospel Shabbat” service at the Bay Ridge Jewish Center on March 13. The seemingly contradictory ceremony unified a diverse crowd, one organizer said.

“The different faiths and denominations came together — it was a wonderful celebration of, not our differences, but what makes us the same,” said pastor Frank Haye, who leads the Brooklyn Interdenominational Choir.

More than 175 folks showed up — not just Jews and Christians, but a true polyphony of faiths, the synagogue’s rabbi said.

“We had Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Coptics,” said rabbi Dina Rosenberg. “It was so neat to see Churches all the way down into the 30s [30th Street] joining us. There were Jews from Midwood and Staten island, and even two visiting from Israel.”

The center holds “musical Shabbat” services on the third Friday of every month, but this was the synagogues’s and the choir’s first forays into singing with another religion, organizers said. The congregation sang a mix of Christian and Jewish tunes, which had the rabbi and pastor reaching out of their musical comfort zone.

“We learned from one another,” Haye said. “The modes and the keys are different, but the message is the same. I could even see myself writing and composing in some of those different modes in the future.”

And singing in English rather than Hebrew had Rosenberg thinking more about the words and the message, she said.

The Center and choir plan to worship together again next year, but some of the synagogue’s congregants may be singing gospel sooner than that.

“We were already invited to come back and do a bar mitzvah,” Haye said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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