In an exuberant display of holiday cheer, over 350 people gathered for the much anticipated 4th annual multi-cultural holiday celebration on Sunday, December 17th in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.
The holiday soiree was generously sponsored by The Bridge Multi-Cultural Advocacy Project (The Bridge MCP), an organization predicated upon shared humanitarian goals. Established in 2013 with the objective of uniting Brooklyn’s vibrant and diverse religious, ethnic, and cultural communities, The Bridge MCP has successfully championed the fight against racial divisiveness and has served to heal the wounds of
community polarization through its multiple educational projects and outreach programs.
The list of those distinguished individuals who were bestowed with special honors at the holiday party included New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, 63rd Police Precinct Commanding Officer Captain Tito Romero, Community activist Carole Elias and Secretary General of the Moroccan American Council to Empower Women (MACEMW) Mina Asserrare.
In addition, a very special award presentation was held to honor Bob Kaplan of the Jewish Community Relations Council. Mr. Kaplan’s tireless efforts in bringing New Yorkers of all stripes together with a sense of unity and purpose in their respective communities has produced a dramatic improvement in race relations as well as community awareness.
Joining the festive holiday celebration was the Honorable Kings County District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who took the occasion to present a special proclamation that recognizes the valorous service of New York City Public Advocate, the Honorable Letitia James. Ms. James, a universally esteemed figure on the New York political scene was selected as the honored keynote speaker and guest.
In a voice reverberating with palpable emotion, District Attorney Gonzalez introduced Ms. James as an intrepid leader who has consistently been in the forefront of efforts focused on vanquishing the kind of ignorance, hate and fear that has divided New York communities for way too long.
“Ms. James has made it her personal mission to bring diverse populations together here in New York City, and as a result has defied the angry chorus of naysayers and has successfully united all racial and ethnic groups. For that and much more, we owe her a sincere debt of gratitude,” he said.
Ascending the lectern to thunderous applause from the enthusiastic crowd, Ms. James said, “I am so proud and honored to be part of the very special work done here at The Bridge for unity. The message of love and coexistence must be spread throughout all communities in New York City.”
Other elected officials that were on hand included Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park) and City Council members Jumaane Williams, Chaim Deutsch, Council member-elect Kalman Yeger as well as district leader and community activist Josh Pierre.
Mark Meyer Appel, the founder and president of The Bridge MCP which is located on Flatbush Avenue, could not hide his emotions as he addressed the overflowing crowed of party attendees. Brimming with pride and appreciation for the dedicated people who selflessly give of themselves at The Bridge MCP, Mr. Appel made note of the organization’s impressive litany of accomplishments that were made in the relatively short time since its inception.
“I am both proud and very humbled to be standing before you tonight in this room of people who have sworn their unwavering commitment to transform our communities and our great city into a better place to live for everyone, ” he said.
“Together, we have initiated special projects aimed at relieving the pain of our neighbors and turning suffering into joy. Through our ongoing educational programming and community outreach, we have had the opportunity to witness the fruits of our labor. Each day, community members who comprise the spectrum of Brooklyn’s diverse ethnic, racial and religious groups work hand-in-hand towards attaining the ultimate dream of creating one united people in this majestic County of Kings.”
With fervor etched on his face, Mr. Appel outlined The Bridge MCP’s exciting agenda for 2018. Included therein will be the dedication of a new television studio at their Flatbush Avenue location which Mr. Appel said “would greatly enhance the dissemination of The Bridge’s message of unity, strength, tolerance, respect, understanding, compassion and love that is shared by so many people across the state.”
Making mention of The Bridge’s “Unity in Action Team” Mr. Appel recalled the humanitarian assistance provided by the team of emergency responders to the survivors of the unprecedented hurricanes that ravaged Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico over the last year. In addition, Mr. Appel extended plaudits to those who saved countless
lives through the blood drives that they made possible and those who labored assiduously in organizing freedom seders on the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Also on The Bridge’s 2018 calendar of special events for the “Unity in Action Team” will be a unique trip to Israel in the summer months. The trip will not only include guided tours of all Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites in Israel but participants will have the opportunity to connect in historic ways with their co-religionists who reside in Israel on a face-to-face basis, said Mr. Appel.
Prior to and following the speeches, those in attendance ate, drank, made merry and everybody intermingled with each other in the festive environs. Also highlighting the party’s diversity were several excellent live bands that included Jews, Muslims, blacks and Hispanics. Attendees danced to such Jewish classics as Hava Nagila as well as reggae and soca music, which included a steel pan, several percussionists, string players and keyboards.
As the party was winding down, Mr. Appel observed, “The infectious positive energy and uplifting mood in this room tonight was beyond spectacular. Everyone joyously shared the beautiful music of all faiths and danced with zeal. It was truly heartwarming to see our city’s elected officials, along with rabbis, imams, ministers and priests and their congregants singing songs of peace.”
The event space included the traditional menorah used to commemorate the holiday of Chanukah as well as a radiant Christmas tree and festive Muslim decorations.