The Free Synagogue of Flushing was invited by the Flushing Development Council to participate in the program, which featured various aspects of Israeli culture.Elected officials from the area were active in the festivities, inlcuding state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Whitestone), who is a former member of the synagogue's congregation, state Assemblyman Jimmy Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing). Liu encouraged the Asian community in attendance to visit the synagogue, which has been at its present and only location in downtown Flushing since 1919, according to its rabbi, Jo David. Liu said Asians should embrace the Jewish community since both China and Israel are technically located on the same continent. The elected officials wrote down messages of peace, which will eventually be sent to the Western Wall in Israel, according to The Free Synagogue. Asians were treated to Israeli dancing by the Bukharian Girls' Dance Troupe from the Jewish Child Care Association of Queens' teen program. After learning a few traditional dances, including the horah and mayim Ð two dances that are done in a circle and are relatively fast-paced - Asians were invited to join the troupe and the synagogue's cantor, Steven Pearlson, on a stage to dance. Children were given Israeli flags and a special Chanukah activity book while Ben's Kosher Restaurant in Bayside provided knishes and hot dogs. The synagogue's rabbi, Jo David, explained how to make challah, a Jewish bread, which a few Asians asked the recipe for after sampling the bread with honey.Vendors were on hand selling various Israeli cultural items David said she felt the program was a success."Everybody was very pleased. We were very well received."The event focused only on cultural aspects of the Jewish faith and not Judaism."The mall is not the place for long theological discussions," David said, adding that there are plans to educate Flushing's Asian community on Judaism sometime next year. "I think that we're building a nice relationship here. (Jews and Asians) are looking at how important it is to share cultural information and to get to know each other," she said. Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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