81-year-old reader is thankful for health, chance to serve

Dear Neighbors, thanks for your response to my "reasons to be thankful" request. I am amazed at how much we can find in our daily life to be thankful for.

The other day, I heard from Nancy Perez, and member of Palm Springs United Methodist Church in Hialeah. Over the years, Nancy has sent me information from her church that I use in this column. I always welcome her input.

Recently, though, she sent a beautiful card to me and in it she said she smiles "every Thursday when I pick up the Neighbors section and read your column. ...for all you do and always have done to keep us informed of what's going on in our religious community. [I] really enjoy your articles on the years past, old times in Dade County and your blessings."

But this is the part I liked best: "I count my blessings every day, for He's been so good to me. Born here 81 years ago — excellent health that keeps me active in my church and serving my Lord every day."

In a post script, Nancy said, "This is a special card for you — not necessarily for your column." And she added a smiley face.

Nancy, I just couldn't resist sharing this with our Neighbors in Religion friends. Thank you, so much.

‘My Happy Place’

This is from Zach Grossman, 24, who lives in Miami. Grossman, a budding young entrepreneur, wrote: "I just read your column on "Reasons to be thankful," and really enjoyed it. The first thing I thought of when I read it was how it tied into an iPhone app that I recently created. When you first open my app each day, it prompts you to say something that you are grateful for in order to open the app and use its other features. (You can turn this feature off if you'd like.)

"My app is called My Happy Place and it basically allows users to store anything that makes them happy all in one place (music, photos, quotes, videos, journal entries). The idea is that if you're having a rough or stressful day you can just go to your very own Happy Place to unwind and turn your mood around."

Grossman, who has a degree in entrepreneurship and marketing from Northeastern University in Boston, said his app costs 99 cents and that there is an Android version available, too. If you are interested in checking out Grossman's app, he said you can Google it or visit the iTunes Store.

‘Unsung Heroes’

Congratulations to Helen Viviand, a member of Unity on the Bay, and who was recognized recently as an "Unsung Hero" by Miami-Dade County Commission Vice Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmonson. Viviand was honored for her involvement in community service. Viviand has been a long-time volunteer at Unity on the Bay in Edgewater and is founder and leader of the organization "Angels Everywhere," which distributes toys and backpacks to needy children.

Also honored at the Dec. 18 meeting in the County Commission Chambers, 11 NW First St., were Susana Baker, founder of the Wynwood-Design District and Midtown Experience, for her efforts to promote businesses and artists in Wynwood, and Cuthbert Harewood, a resident and businessman who is helping to revitalize Northwest 18th Avenue in Liberty City, and feeds the homeless and senior citizens.

Musical for ‘Jewish Earth Day’

Bet Shira Congregation at 7500 SW 120th St., will celebrate its 22nd Annual Tu Bishevat (Jewish Earth Day) Musical event at 8 p.m. Saturday at the synagogue.

According to Cantor Mark H. Kula, the program is called, "Broadway Comes to Pinecrest," and will feature the music of Jewish Broadway composers.

General admission is $36 per person. The evening includes = desserts and drinks. Call Bet Shira's office at 305-238-2601 for tickets and more information.

Celebrating ‘Mother Bostic’

For many years, now, Virginia Bostic aka "Mother Bostic" has held a musical program on her birthday. On Sunday, she will have her 66th singing/birthday anniversary at 3 p.m. at New Christ Tabernacle Baptist Church, 8400 NW 25th Ave, where the Rev. Harold Marsh is the pastor/teacher.

Her guests will include the Rev. Avery Jones and the Spirit of Life Ministries as host pastor; musical guests the Spiritual Harmonizers; the Rev. Julius Davis, and Lil Reverend and the Calvary Travelers.

Admission is free, but a freewill donation will be accepted. Call Bostic at 305-389-6030 for more information.

Jewish young professionals group

Next Century, a group of young professionals at Beth David Congregation, will host "Shmoozin' Shabbat," a cocktail party for those aged 21-39 at 6 p.m. Friday (Jan. 25) at the synagogue, 2625 SW Third Ave. in Miami. The event will precede the synagogue's monthly Shabbat Pasion service. Admission is $10 per person.

The Next Century group was founded six months ago by congregation leaders to target young professionals who live and work in the Brickell and downtown near the synagogue, said Lonni Romirowsky of Beth David. Since then the organization has attracted a diverse group, consisting of alumni from the congregation's Gordon Day schools, children of current members, newcomers to Miami, and those unaffiliated with other congregations.

Jodi Caplan, one of Next Century's leaders said, "My fiance and I arrived here from Baltimore six months ago, so I enjoy meeting new friends and being part of the Jewish community."

The Shabbat Pasion service will feature guest artists to include flutist Mattan Klein, pianist Yoav Polachek (both from Israel) and Cantor Bruce Benson on guitar. The musicians will join Cantor Julie Jacobs for an innovative services to start at 7 p.m.

For more information on "Shmoozin' Shabbat and Shabbat Pasion, call the temple at 305-854-3911, ext. 200 or go to

Biblical scholar to speak

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, a Vanderbilt and Cambridge University professor and author, will be the Theologian in Residence at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ Feb. 1 through Feb. 3.

In three sessions, Levine will present a "thought-provoking and informative look into "Jesus, Judaism and Jewish-Christian Relations."

Levine has a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and master’s and doctoral degrees from Duke University, as well as honorary doctorates from several institutions. She is a professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter professor of New Testament Studies, and professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School and College of Arts and Science in Nashville. She is also affiliated professor, Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge England.

The weekend of sessions will be at Temple Judea in Coral Gables and Coral Gables Congregational.

From 7:30 to 9 p.m., Feb. 1, Levine will be at Temple Judea at 5500 Granada Blvd. Her lecture topic will be, "How Jews and Christians Read Scripture Differently."

She will be at Coral Gables Congregational, 3010 DeSoto Blvd. in Coral Gables from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. She will speak on the topics, "Jesus in His Jewish context," and "Hearing the parables as Jewish Stories."

The day will include a soup lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., for $5 per person.

At 11 a.m. on Feb. 3, at Coral Gables Congregational, Levine will speak on, "Dangers on the Road to Jerico: How the Story of the Good Samaritan Goes Bad."

If you go, the cost of the three sessions is $45 per person. Add an additional $5 if you plan to have lunch at the Feb. 2 , session.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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