The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County (“Bergen”) had a wonderful evening of good food and friendship on Saturday, January 9th, when they welcomed individuals and families who hailed from four countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Bergen members prepared and brought all the food for the appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts, besides the soda and coffee. There were 79 of us, in all. The children (from infants to teens) got along swimmingly, finding many things to play with and share.
There were some welcoming words that explained the “why” of the evening (friendship) and the “how” of how the guests came to be in New Jersey. They have suffered many hardships to get here and in the asylum-seeking experience. A Sanctuary group that Bergen founded has morphed into The Northern New Jersey Sanctuary Coalition (NNJSC), comprised of eight religious organizations (three Unitarian congregations, one Reform Temple, one Conservative Synagogue, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and one mosque), plus one social service organization. The presidency of NNJSC has just changed from the founding force – Dr. Joseph Chuman, Leader of Bergen – to Dr. Elizabeth Ames, who belongs to the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood. Both were present for the dinner event.
It is interesting to note that among the Bergen membership, approximately 26 are foreign born, and approximately 9 of those partook of the potluck. The event was suggested by Bob Gordon, who provided some start-up coordination, and the muscle to set out the tables, while the bulk of the decorating, arranging and food coordination was done by Linda Bennett, with the ample assistance of others, notably Randa Hamadeh, Diane Koszarski, and Edna and Laszlo Berkowitz, while many hands helped after the event with clean-up.
The next related event is NNJSC’s annual fundraiser, targeted for March. A free lasagna dinner and musical entertainment are highlights of that evening’s event. The keynote speaker will be: Sally Pillay, Director, First Friends of NJ & NY. Contact Bergen’s Administrative Director, Linda Bennett, for the final details (date/time/location): 201.836.5187 –or- [email protected].