Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: Rabbi honored by Queen Elizabeth II to speak at Temple Israel

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II honored Rabbi Mark L. Winer by naming him a member of the Order of the British Empire for “promoting interfaith dialogue and social cohesion” in London and the United Kingdom during his 12-year tenure as senior rabbi at the Reform West London Synagogue.

Winer, an international interfaith activist and scholar, is the first American rabbi to receive the honor.

At the Shabbat service 7:30 p.m. July 31, Winer will be at Temple Israel of Greater Miami to discuss the importance of inter-religious dialogue. The Shabbat service will be led by Rabbi Tom Heyn. Music will be performed by guest cantorial soloist Jennifer Rueben, accompanied by Dr. Alan Mason, the temple’s director of music.

A 1964 graduate of Harvard University, Winer earned a Ph.D with highest distinction in 1977 at Yale University in sociology, comparative religion, contemporary Jewry and race and ethnic relations. He was ordained a rabbi in 1970 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

For more than 30 years, Winer served as a congregation rabbi in the U.S. and was president of the National Council of Synagogues before going to London. He moved to Miami in 2013 to become director of the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Studies at St. Thomas University, where he also served as an adjunct professor of religion until he retired in 2014.

He has a long history of promoting interfaith dialogue. In 1995, Winer founded and has served as president of the international interfaith initiative FAITH: the Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony, which has a chapter in London. He also has served as chair of the international interfaith Task Force for the World Union for Progressive Judaism since 1998.

Winer has been involved in several international events, including resolving the issues that led to the treaty between Israel and the Vatican. In addition, he has been a key negotiator for the release of Ethiopian Jews and the resolution to the dispute over the Carmelite convent at Auschwitz.

Following the service Winer will lead a discussion during an Oneg dessert reception. The event is open to the entire community.

Family takes first communion

It is a beautiful thing when children of any age profess their faith. Recently, at St. Basil Catholic Church, 1475 NE 199th St. in North Miami Beach, four children ages 9 to 13, took their first Holy Communion as family and friends watched proudly.

“To the Catholic Church, the first communion is a big thing; kind of like the bar mitzvah is to the Jewish faith,” said Mae Whitman, a member at St. Basil. “The children, under the direction of Suzanne Opalka, director of religious education, studied for an entire year, going through a series of biblical teaching in order to be eligible for their first Holy Communion,” Whitman said.

The children taking their first Holy Communion were, JahleelJules, Jennie Maingrette, Wesner Maingrette Jr., and Taashira Saint Fleur.

The Revs. Scott Boghossian and John Fink and Deacon Michael Opalka officiated.

Family movie night

Still don’t know what to do on hot summer nights? The pastor and congregation at Riviera Presbyterian Church, at 5275 Sunset Dr., invite you to join them 7 p.m. July 17 for a free community movie night.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be screened, and according to church administrator Barbara Prieto, you’ll be able to fulfill that longtime urge to “burst into song” as you watch the film.

Prieto said the audience will be invited to “dance and sing along to every word.” And if you have a costume, you are encouraged to wear it.

Sounds like fun, and a great way for the community to come together for some wholesome fun.

For more information, call the church at 305-666-8586.

Awadagin Pratt classical piano concert

The 2015 Community Arts Program (CAP) Summer Concert Series at 8 p.m. July 16 presents a world-class musician performing at Coral Gables Congregational United Church of Christ, 3010 De Soto Blvd.

Classical pianist Awadagin Pratt became the first African-American classical instrumentalist to win first prize in the 1992 Naumburg International Piano Competition. Pratt, who last appeared at the concert series in 2010, will perform the works of Brahms, Bach, and Liszt.

Individual tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, based on availability. Patron tickets are $50 in advance and $55 at the door, based on availability.

To order tickets, call 305-448-7421, ext. 153 or go online at

Sistah to Sistah Connection

The Sistah to Sistah Connection will have its bi-monthly meeting from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Parkway Professional Building, 6151 Miramar Pkwy, Suite 204.

The organization of Christian women meets every second and fourth Saturday and this month will continue with the theme of “Experiencing Total Emotional Wholeness,” with the theme of “Transforming Your Mind,” said Evangelist Gigi Rolle-Holloway, the group’s founder.

“I believe God has put it upon my heart to reach out and help hurting women to heal,” Rolle-Holloway said. “Many women are carrying around emotional baggage and we teach them how to release it by being forgiving. When we can forgive those who have hurt, we can then live a more productive and prosperous life. Women can become spiritually strong when they release the pain of the past.”

Rolle-Holloway said the meetings are free and open to women of all walks of life. For more information, call her at 786-246-7578.

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.