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Montclair: The light of the summer

in Holidays/Holidays/Religion/Spirituality
Deborah Ann Tripoldi/Staff
Partners Joe Longo and Craig Sloan of Blu Lotus, arrange the fairy statues under their tree for the Summer Solstice— June 21. The blue lit tree is the altar for their shop on Church Street.

by Deborah Ann Tripoldi

The longest day of the year and no, it’s not a Monday or Black Friday falls on Wednesday, June 21.

Summer begins that day at exactly 12:24 a.m. EDT.

The first day of summer for the Northern Hemisphere is known by many names: the summer solstice, Midsummer, Alban Hefin (or “light of the summer”) to the Druids, or Litha to most pagans. It is one of eight sabbats, which mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year. They are seasonal festivals celebrating the cycles of nature.

Montclair resident Craig Sloan, co-owner of Blu Lotus on Church Street, said that wherever he and his partner, Joe Longo, may be on the summer solstice, they make sure to watch the sun set.

Sloan is an eclectic pagan, or as he puts it, “an explorer.” “The roots are all feeding to the same tree,” he said. Longo considers himself spiritual.

Midsummer is one of the two solstices. Directly opposite on the Wheel of the Year is the winter solstice, also known as Yule or Alban Arthan which usually falls on Dec. 21. The Celts and many other cultures celebrate the summer solstice with bonfires.

The word “solstice” means sun stopping: the sun appears to stop and then reverse direction as the days grow shorter or longer, depending on time of year. “When we use to have a large property we held a bonfire on the solstice,” said Sloan.

For those who observe the solstice, traditional colors to mark the holiday are blue, green and yellow. Some items presented on the pagan altar would be strawberries, oranges and tangerines, and flowers such as the sunflower, as well as anything associated with the sun or fire. Altars are usually in homes or created by a group. “I always light a white candle for clarity [on the Summer Solstice],” said Sloan. “I’m a nature lover and pick flowers to place on our altar in the bay window at home for the solstice.” “There are candles, sand and shells in there right now,” added Longo.

It is the most powerful day of the year for Bel, the Celtic God of the sun, who is associated with light, health and healing.

The day is the highest point of energy: “Energy is everything. Whatever the reason is, if we are not feeling it, we won’t force just because a calendar says when it has to be done. We wait until the time feels right,” he said. “Our ancestors went by the seasons changing, not a calendar.”

“In essence we live our lives seasonally,” said Sloan.

Sloan and Longo say they enjoy being outside, at Verona Park or the beach, for the solstice. “We honor the seasonal festivals,” said Longo.

Blu Lotus has a tall ornamental tree that Sloan decorates for each season with lights. It serves as the store’s altar. Currently the tree is lit in blue lights and surrounded by figurines of fairies. Sloan noted that his shop has a lot of fairy statues for Litha. “We have a fairy promotion especially for the solstice. There is a belief that the line between the world of fairy and ours is the thinnest at this time,” he said.

Herbalist Kim Sisco of Montclair, an employee at Blu Lotus, will be in upstate New York for the solstice. “Fifty-five acres of positive land to celebrate with other herbalists during the Green Wisdom Weekend,” she said. “We will gather plants and herbs, make herbal medicine and build a bonfire at the end of the day. We will share and do a releasement to the universe; write it on a piece of birch or paper and toss that to the fire. We sit still and converse with Mother Earth and within ourselves.”

Like Sisco, Longo does a lot of reflecting during this sabbat. “We write down our good and bad, compare them and place under a shell or a crystal and leave it until the next new moon. Then we … burn the bad ones,” he said.

For Longo it’s about “respecting the earth and taking care of what we have.”

Blu Lotus, 20 Church St., will hold a Healing Circle open to the public on Wednesday, June 21, from 8 to 9 p.m. Judie Hurtado, intuitive, Reiki master and spiritual teacher, will lead the circle, which will involve a “Welcoming the Light” meditation.

Ramadan: Montclair Muslims celebrate ‘an ongoing Thanksgiving’

in Community/Holidays/Holidays/Religion/Spirituality
Frances Aboushi looks proudly over her students’ posters on intolerance in Glenfield Middle School on Monday, June 11.
Neil Grabowsky/For Montclair Local.


It’s very hot on the third floor of Glenfield Middle School.

That makes the fast of Ramadan just that little bit harder for Frances Aboushi, who teaches there, and students Rafid Khayum, 13, and Amir Carter, 12.

During the monthlong Muslim holiday, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. They take no food or drink, and refrain from intimate relations and violent emotions.

Ramadan, which began on Friday, May 26, is considered the holiest month of the Muslim calendar, and celebrates the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. Fasting is one of the five pillars of the faith.

“Up here on the third floor there is no air conditioning. It can get stuffy and hazy,” Aboushi said. “I learn how to pick my battles. I don’t have the energy to run marathons or run after things. Heat never makes you hungry. It just tires you out.”

Aboushi teaches “Human Rights and Violations,” a course with students in all three grades that “deconstructs major social problems and global issues,” such as Black Lives Matter, the refugee crisis and human trafficking. She also teaches in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) program.

Throughout Montclair and the region, Muslim children and their parents negotiate with the climate, weather-wise and otherwise, to observe their faith. It isn’t always easy.

Students “never hear about Islam unless it’s about terrorism. They feel muted,” the teacher said. “There aren’t specific classes that teach about religion, unless in the context of world civilization.” Right now, she said, the discourse sees Islam in a negative light, something “out there and foreign.”

In Montclair, at Glenfield, administration, staff and students recognize that Islam is a religion practiced right here.

In fact, there is a reminder in the staff bulletin for teachers to be mindful of fasting students, and not ask for excessive physical activity.

Not eating or drinking is difficult, especially at first — Aboushi joked about how relieved she was the first day of the month fell on a weekend, because “caffeine withdrawal is no joke.”

But the month itself is a spiritual one, she said.

“When food and water are taken away, your necessities, you’re able to feel with those that don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘I’m going to eat

Najla holds handsher daughter at Ramadan Breakfast at Masjid Al-Wadud on Saturday, June 10.
Neil Grabowsky/For Montclair Local.

by this time.’ Millions are facing starvation.” During the 30 days of the month, she said, Muslims increase their community service. “You have to pump up your community service, in the hope that when it’s over, you continue that model. It’s what we’re supposed to do, eat less because you give more to a group. When you take something away you start to realize what you’ve got. It’s a huge reminder of all the blessings we have.

“Every day it’s like Thanksgiving.”

One way non-Muslims learn about the holiday is by joining with those who celebrate it.

This past Friday, June 9, a youth group from First Congregational Church joined the Peace Islands Institute in Hasbrouck Heights for an iftar (evening break fast) celebration. John Rogers, director of the FCC youth group and associate pastor at the church, explained that the group has met with the PII youth group, run by Feyza Teke, for several years. PII is a national nonprofit organization based in Hasbrouck Heights that works to build connections among cultures. Teke explained that while the FCC group doesn’t fast, “We open our doors for them. There is a short presentation, how Ramadan is celebrated. After a call to prayer, everyone eats the break fast.”

“They really do get deep with one another,” said Rogers, a Montclair High School graduate of the Class of 2007. “The kids at PII told our kids what it was like to wear a hijab, and they expressed real frustration around the word ‘terrorist.’ People so often associate that word with Muslim.”

Leyla Yurt, a freshman at Cedar Grove High School, is part of the Peace Island group. Her friend Julie Korgen, a junior at MHS, attends FCC. Both attended Friday’s iftar.

Yurt, a fencer, said she was worried about how the fast would affect her matches, but that the challenging fast soon became routine.
“I’m a thin person, and don’t usually eat a lot. That helps me. At iftar, I eat more than usual — veggies, salad, protein, because I will be making it through until the next iftar.” Also, she said, food tastes better when she does eat it. “As a teen, I think about cookies, pizza, ice cream, and when we finally get to have it, it’s great.”

Korgen said that she likes supporting her Muslim friends: “They are practicing their faith, as we do at Lent.”

Imam Kevin Dawud Amin, right, of Montclair’s Masjid Al-Wadud Mosque shares a laugh with member and Hillside School teacher Omar Ibn Abdullah of East Orange, following prayers on May 25. All are Montclair residents.
Dale Mincey/For Montclair Local.

Omar Ibn Abdullah, a paraprofessional at Hillside Elementary School who works with students with special needs, said that some students might feel reluctant to talk about fasting, worried that what they are doing might be bothering other people. But every monotheistic religion has fast days, he tells them.

He draws his students out, to help them feel more relaxed about it– and also to take their minds off feeling hungry or thirsty.
Teachers don’t always realize that they need to be more patient with fasting students, he said. “They are trying to get through the day without exerting too much energy.” And it often seems like “during Ramadan there are the most cookouts.” Like Rogers, Ibn Abdullah is a Montclair High graduate. He said he had just changed his name from Otis Wright Jr.

Like Glenfield, Hillside is supportive: Ibn Abdullah is able to attend prayers at the mosque on Friday afternoons.


Najla holds handsher daughter at Ramadan Breakfast at Masjid Al-Wadud on Saturday, June 10.Neil Grabowsky/For Montclair Local.

Mifan Careem (right) and son Said (center) fill their plates – Ramadan Breakfast at Masjid Al-Wadud on Saturday, June 10.
Neil Grabowsky/For Montclair Local.

At Saturday’s iftar, about 50 people, women and girls in their best hijabs, attended the Masjid in Montclair to break the fast together. A buffet included spicy chickpeas, sassafras milk, fresh fruit, bottled water, dates and cake. Children pulled on their parents’ hands.
Imam Kevin Dawud Amin said that bigger masjids have break fasts every day. The meals are hosted by different people, though many others bring food: “Everybody wants to serve the dinner because you get the blessing of everybody eating. You are the one who feeds the people who have had the fast all day.”

Riz Haider, who lives in Glen Ridge, was one of the hosts of Saturday’s iftar. He attended with his wife and two children, ages 6 and 8. Haider said that while his school system is supportive, he does send notes to the teachers. Kwanzaa, he said, was just recognized in the school recently. “It’s a learning process.”

Some of the young children at Saturday’s iftar at the masjid had begun fasting in steps: third-grader Nadia, who attends Northeast Elementary, fasts only on weekends. She gets up at 3 or 4 a.m. with her family, and has a meal to start the day.

Sarah, a 9-year-old who attends the Charles H. Bullock School, doesn’t fast on school days, but does full days on weekends.
But some children fast the entire day.

Safiyah, a 9-year old at Hillside School, fasts the entire day and doesn’t find it difficult at all.

“It’s like a normal day, nothing much of a change really,” she said. Then she asked her mother, Reny, “Can I have cake now?”

Reny said that this is the first year Safiyah has done a full-day fast. “She started last year, skipping breakfast in the morning. I tell her, ‘If you feel hungry or thirsty, go ahead and drink.’ I also tell her the same for this year. I don’t want to force anything on her, but want her to know as a Muslim, this is what we do on Ramadan.”

Aboushi said she began fasting in fourth grade, in steps: She’d break her fast at noon. Then work up to 12:15. Eventually, she could last the whole day. “Because a family is fasting, kids naturally want to do what the grownups are doing.

“It really is a great training, a great discipline to learn how to navigate, learn how to control your wants and needs.”

Rafid Khayum, the Glenfield student, said that he hasn’t told his teachers that he is fasting, and that he does sit in the lunch room because his friends are there.

And while schoolwork in mid-June generally lightens up, he has finals to study for, including an algebra final.

But, he said, there are “religious benefits” to the fast. And it feels good when he breaks his fast.

While Rafid’s voice seemed, late in the afternoon, just a little drained by the stuffiness of the room, Amir Carter spoke with energy to spare. Amir said that he even goes to football practice, “but I don’t play as hard as I normally would.”

He said that he heard there was something in the school bulletin, so he told his teachers he was one of the kids fasting.

Sometimes, he said, “Ms. Aboushi lets me pray in her room.”

Aboushi said that when children begin to fast when they are little, by the time they get to middle school or high school, “it’s grounded.”

Safiyah Toking eats some cake – Ramadan Breakfast at Masjid Al-Wadud on Saturday, June 10.
Neil Grabowsky/For Montclair Local.

When she was growing up in Brooklyn, there was “a lot of ignorance to what we were doing.” Some people thought of it as “a mean holiday, a way to torture kids.”

So, when she was in middle school, she put together a “Ramadan party,” which celebrates the Eid al-Fitr, the four-day end of the fast. This year, it begins on Saturday, June 24.

For the party, she collected money and had the fasting children sign up for what their moms would bring to school.

Some parents brought stuffed grape leaves. Others brought chicken nuggets and fries. Aboushi, whose parents are immigrants from Jerusalem, said she prefers apple pie to baklava. The combination of foreign and all-American food on the same plate is a bit like being a Muslim-American, she said.

“You can be Muslim-American, enjoy the culture, hip-hop, and still do your five prayers. You’re just as American.”

Hundreds pay tribute to Montclair State faculty member at memorial

in Houses of Worship/Pedestrians/Police/Public Safety/Streets and Roads/Transportation
Mary DeFilippis


More than 400 people came to a memorial service on Tuesday evening for Mary DeFilippis, who was eulogized by her friends and colleagues as a warm, witty, whip-smart, professional and caring woman who made a mark wherever she went.

The celebration of DeFilippis’s life took place at the Union Congregational Church in Montclair, where she worshiped for years before sustaining fatal injuries after being struck by a vehicle while crossing Grove Street last week, June 7.

“Last Wednesday night our hearts broke,” said the Rev. David Shaw, pastor of the church. “I come here tonight in trust that God’s heart broke, first … Mary’s death is the definition of tragedy.”

The attendees at the hourlong service included a large contingent from Montclair State University and its Feliciano School of Business, where DeFilippis was part of the faculty as an adviser.

The program for Tuesday night’s memorial for Mary DeFilippis at Union Congregational Church.

The speakers included not only Shaw but one of DeFilippis’s three sons, her childhood friend from their days of mischief-making growing up in the tiny country town of Wynantskill, New York, and Richard Peterson, a professor at the business school.

Montclair State honored DeFilippis in a special way last Friday, according to Peterson.

“Something I do not remember ever happening on the campus as a tribute to a university staffer: Our flag flied half-staff in honor of Mary,” he said.

DeFilippis’s husband, George, and her three adult sons sat in the front pew of the church. One son, John, briefly addressed the group.

“So, I don’t think I can stand up here for more than 30 seconds,” he said, trying to keep his composure. “If you knew my mom, you know she was always worried about how you’re doing, if you were happy, or not. And if you weren’t, she wanted to know what she could do to make you happy. She wanted to force you to be happy, sometimes.”

That comment prompted laughter from the audience. And while it was obviously a time of grieving, there was laughter at the service several times as the speakers related anecdotes about the deceased Montclair resident, who was 73.

Mickey Clement, in a sometimes halting voice as she grew emotional, said she had known DeFilippis “for a lifetime,” almost 70 years, and she had the most stories to tell. In fact, Clement said, she arranged the blind date where DeFilippis met her future husband.

“There may be people who know Mary better than me … but no one has known her longer or loved her longer than I have,” Clement said. “Picture this skinny little girl with Coke-thick glasses and sausage curls all over her head … Even then she was funny, smart and more importantly, kind … We bonded.”

Clement described DeFilippis as always the smartest girl in the room, but said that “she also had a little attitude going on … She was a bit of an imp.”

For example, in elementary school DeFilippis found a sly way to stick her tongue out the side of her mouth at her teachers, so they wouldn’t see it.

“And she never got caught, or so we thought,” Clement said. “Years later my mother, who was a teacher in our school, told us that all the teachers knew what she [DeFilippis] was doing … And they let it slide.”

In fifth grade, DeFilipps started a “business” of selling “pin-up” drawings of girls to boys, charging a nickel for a girl in a one-piece swimsuit, a dime for a girl in a two-piece and a quarter for a bikini-clad girl, according to Clement. But DeFilippis was put out of business when a fifth-grade boy started selling drawings of girls with no bathing suits on, Clement said, prompting laughter from the group.

People start to arrive for the memorial service for Mary DeFilippis that was held Tuesday night at Union Congregational Church, where she worshiped.

In fifth grade DeFilippis also decided she was going to marry Mickey Mantle.

“And for the next two years, and I’m not making this up either, she wrote ‘Mrs. Mickey Mantle’ all over her assignment papers and handed them in to her teachers,” said Clement, who noted that the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center was just “down the street” from life-long Yankee fan DeFilippis.

Peterson said he met DeFilippis when he interviewed her for a job in 2002.

“Within 30 seconds into the interview I realized Mary had to become my secretary,” he said. “Yes, you are probably saying, why did it take you so long to figure that out?”

DeFilippis would eventually end up being an adviser to students at the business school, and she mentored many women, according to Peterson. Earlier in the day, he said, several cleaning employees stopped by his office and asked him to convey their condolences to her family.

“She cared for the faculty, she cared for the staff, and most of all, she cared for the well-being of the students who needed our advice and counsel,” he said. “To say that she was loved and appreciated only begins to describe her influence. In the 15 years I’ve known Mary, there was never a harsh word, a raised voice, or a snide comment. Mary found, and brought out, in each of us the best.”

The university this week announced that it is starting a scholarship in memory of DeFilippis.

In her remarks, Clement described DeFilippis as a good athlete who was a great ice skater, as well as being a talented actress and singer, nabbing her first role in fifth grade doing the part of Maria in the Nutcracker Suite operetta.

“She really had a beautiful singing voice,” Clement said.

And while at Russell Sage College in Troy, New York, DeFilippis “brought down the house with her hilarious performance of Miss Gouch in ‘Auntie Mame,’” according to Clement.

Shaw recalled running into DeFilippis at Sunrise Bagels with his children.

“She told me after we moved to Montclair and saw us in there early one Saturday morning that clearly, with a bright smile on her face, that we had excellent taste,” he said.

There was a reception after the service with refreshments and food, in a room where posters and stations with photos of DeFilippis and her family over the years were set up.

The family, including son John, were at the reception. Earlier during the service he thanked attendees and the community for the kindness they had shown after his mother’s death.

“Your generosity has meant a great deal to my family, and we would like to thank everyone for what you’ve done and for coming tonight,” he said.

Refugee assistance project at St. Teresa of Calcutta continues ahead

in Altruism/Community/Houses of Worship/Religion/Spirituality
Maria Biancheri of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark gives a talk at Immaculate Conception Church on March 29 about refugee resettlement efforts.


A refugee assistance project involving a Montclair parish is moving ahead.

St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish — which includes Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Mount Carmel churches — has embarked on a project, through Catholic Charities, to assist refugee families arriving in the United States.

Catherine Mulroe, one of the project coordinators, said the parish may be getting ready to welcome its first family.

Mulroe said a family was expected to be arriving within the next few months, and that the committee was in the process of securing an apartment for them. She said an area landlord had agreed to waive some of the fees. “As of now, we still don’t know when our family will arrive but we have been told that [Catholic Charities] will be receiving a total of seven families in the future so we want to be as prepared as possible.”

At the two churches, committee members have been making announcements about the refugee project during Mass for two weeks.

The parish held its first volunteer recruitment meeting at Immaculate Conception in March. Another meeting was held at the church on June 4 to set up volunteer subcommittees; Mulroe reported that about 40 people attended, ranging from school-age children to adults.

According to the parish website, the subcommittees include fundraising, translation, helping find an apartment and getting it outfitted, and helping the family with public assistance, registering for school and finding employment.

Nancy Burke, who helps oversee the fundraising activities for the project, said that as of Friday the parish’s GoFundMe page had brought in $3,830. She also said that individual donations, in the form of checks and collections at the Mother’s Day Masses at both churches, had put the total amount of donations in the $5,000 range. “We are grateful to some very generous donors in town to have asked to remain anonymous. We are also grateful to our smaller donors — there are quite a lot of them and it all adds up.”

Bnai Keshet to hold talk and vigil

in Religion/Religion/Spirituality

Bnai Keshet is holding two events honoring social justice in the coming week.

On Saturday morning, June 3, Steve Ellmann will speak about South Africa’s late Chief Justice, Arthur Chaskalson, and what role his Jewishness may have played in his opposition to apartheid at Bnai Keshet’s Kaplan Minyan. The Kaplan Minyan, which meets in the Red Gables historic house across the parking lot from the synagogue’s main building, at 99 South Fullerton Ave., begins at 10:30 a.m.

Ellmann is the Martin Professor of Law at New York Law School, where he has taught since 1992. He taught with Chaskalson in 1987 at Columbia Law School and visited him in South Africa in 1988. After Chaskalson’s death in 2012, the family invited Ellmann to write his biography, to be titled, “For Justice: The Life of Arthur Chaskalson.”

On Tuesday, June 6, at 6 p.m., Bnai Keshet will hold a candlelight vigil on the corner of Church Street and Bloomfield Ave., to bear witness to the turning away of passengers on the transatlantic liner St. Louis in 1939. More than over 900 mostly Jewish refugees fleeing the Third Reich were not allowed into the US. Instead, they were sent ack to Germany, where they were murdered in the Holocaust.

The candlelight gathering will simultaneously stand with today’s refugees. For more information, call Bnai Keshet at 973-746-4889 or visit

Tikkun for Erev Shavuot to be held at Temple Ner Tamid

in Holidays/Religion/Spirituality

Temple Ner Tamid will host this year’s Tikkun for Erev Shavuot on Tuesday evening, May 30.

For more than 20 years, four synagogues — Bnai Keshet and Shomrei Emunah in Montclair, Temple Sholom of West Essex in Cedar Grove, and Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield — have gathered together for an evening of study, meditation and song.

This year’s visiting scholar is Rabbi Aaron Panken, president of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. The evening begins with Erev Shavuot worship at 7:30, immediately followed by a dairy-based nosh and social period.

Panken will offer his keynote address at 9 p.m.: “How True is True? True Lies, Alternative Truths and the Value of Veracity in Jewish Law.”

At 10 and 11 p.m., clergy and lay-leaders of the congregations will offer a variety of one-hour learning sessions.

At midnight all will gather to hear the chanting of Aseret Ha-Dibbrot (The 10 Commandments), and the Tikkun will conclude with Panken offering a final session titled “Seek Peace and Pursue It.”

The Tikkun will offer sessions for elementary age children at 7:30 p.m. and for teens at 10 p.m.

The evening is free and open to the public. All are invited for part or the entirety of the Tikkun.

Temple Ner Tamid is at 936 Broad St., Bloomfield.


Panken’s presentations:

“How True is True? True Lies, Alternative Truths and the Value of Veracity in Jewish Law”: Jewish texts have clearly privileged speaking the truth over propagating false information, with certain fascinating exceptions.There are definite examples where the truth must be shaped or altered in its presentation for various reasons. Philosophical texts, likewise, sometimes require lies when the truth may cause certain or potential damage. This session will explore a few of the core texts that define this conundrum in Jewish thought, along with a few philosophical responses, sketching the boundaries of shaping the truth and providing guidance for reacting to untruths we encounter. It is not entirely impossible that this discussion will be relevant to contemporary politics and situations that take place in community settings.

“Seek Peace and Pursue It”: Jewish tradition holds as one of its highest ideals the making of peace between parties who disagree. In a world that is profoundly more divided and polarized than in the recent past, how should Jewish people of good intention act in the world to make peace between the various parties they encounter? In this late-night shiur, we will explore the surprisingly relevant guidance offered by biblical and rabbinic texts for making peace in difficult situations.

Pastor at troubled, merged Montclair parish reassigned

in Community/Fourth Ward/Houses of Worship/Religion
The Rev. Joseph Scarangella, pastor of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Montclair, has been reassigned to a church in Closter effective July 1. Scarangella is seen here at a Mass last week in Nutley celebrated by Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark. LINDA MOSS/STAFF


The pastor of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, which was formed last year by the rocky merger of two Montclair churches, is being transferred to a parish in Bergen County.

The Rev. Joseph Scarangella effective July 1 will be leaving Montclair to go the Church of St. Mary in Closter, several parishioners were informed on Sunday morning. Scarangella had been pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception on North Fullerton Avenue in Montclair before the Archdiocese of Newark merged it last fall with Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Pine Street to create the new parish.

The Rev. A Benny Prado, who is now at the Church of the Presentation in Upper Saddle River, will be coming to St. Teresa, Montclair parishioners were told. His title will be administrator of St. Teresa.

“I’m very excited about serving in my new ministry there for Saint Theresa,” Prado said in an email on Sunday. “I’m grateful for the Cardinal’s confidence in this new assignment and look forward to getting to know, working with, and serving the good people there.”

Following the Montclair merger Scarangella was named head of St. Teresa parish, and during the past year he has clashed with members of Mount Carmel over the combining of the two Montclair houses of worship and whether the Pine Street church will remain open.
The Rev. A. Benny Prado was at the Mass that Cardinal Joseph Tobin celebrated in Nutley last week. COURTESY REV. A. BENNY PRADO

Scarangella participated in a Mass that was celebrated by the new archbishop of Newark, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, last Tuesday, May 16, at Holy Family Church in Nutley. Tobin held the service for the North Essex deanery, a group of parishes that includes four in Montclair.

At a “town hall” that Tobin held after that Mass one Mount Carmel parishioner pleaded with the cardinal to come to Montclair and meet in efforts to save the Pine Street parish.

“I will get to Montclair eventually, not to save your church — unless, unless this is an instrument for the Church’s mission today,” Tobin told her. “I’m aware of some of the issues in Montclair. That’s why I’ll come and listen.”

Members of the Save Our Lady of Mount Carmel Committee have met with representatives of the archdiocese to discuss the fate of their parish, which ultimately is in Tobin’s hands.

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness on Sunday confirmed that Scarangella was leaving St. Teresa and that Prado was coming there, but didn’t have any more details.

According to the Church of the Presentation’s website, Prado earned his B.A. from St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens. He was ordained a priest May 29, 2004, earning an M.Div. and M.A. in theology from the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University.

“His parish assignment was at the Resurrection Parish in Jersey City and then to Sts. Peter and Paul in Hoboken, New Jersey,” the site says. “Father Benny has organized mission trips to Jamaica, in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. He is originally from Nicaragua and moved to the states when he was 15 years old. He grew up in the Bronx. Father Benny enjoys running, hiking, and above all loves to travel the world.”

The chair of the Mount Carmel committee, Frank Cardell, and member Raffaele Marzullo earlier this year claimed that pastor Scarangella has stymied their efforts to make Mount Carmel grow. Those considered “in conflict” with the goals of St. Teresa’s parish are “considered outcasts,” according to Cardell.

Mother and Child reunion: Mother’s day pics in Montclair

in Children/Community/Holidays/Parents
Maxine Pittman, left, with her daughter Ivy. “My mom will be so surprised when she sees it!” Ivy writes.
Courtesy Ivy Pittman.
Amira Jannah, Jamil Jannah, Amani Jannah-Hamlet, with mom Latifah Jannah, Aquil Jannah, Thyana Darby-Jannah, Khalil Jannah, Abebe Jannah. All are Latifah’s children except daughter-in-law Thyana, the bride, who, Latifa wrote on Tuesday, “just gave birth to my 17th grandchild this a.m.” Courtesy Latifa Jannah.

We asked for pictures of mother-child lookalikes, in honor of Mother’s Day. Here are two we received — if you’re seeing Mom on Sunday, send us a pic! We can run a few next week. The resemblance need not be physical. Photos don’t have to be the two (or more) of you side by side, they can be two baby photos, for example. Send high-resolution JPGs, and tell us your names, starting from the left. Be sure to indicate who mom is! We’ll publish as many as we can fit. Send your photos to

‘May in Montclair’ festivities open with maypole tradition

in Community/Holidays/May in Montclair/Montclair Public Schools
Edgemont School music teacher Max Mellman guides the two first grade classes consisting of about 50 children as they dance twirling the ribbons while singing “Here We Go Round the Maypole High” during the May in Montclair opening ceremonies. DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

by Deborah Ann Tripoldi

A rainbow of ribbons swirled in the air intertwining the Maypole as children performed the ritual dance for May in Montclair’s opening ceremonies at Watchung Plaza Monday, May 1.

Before a crowd that included Mayor Robert Jackson, councilmembers Renée Baskerville and Richard McMahon, and Deputy Township Manager Brian P. Scantlebury, about 50 Edgemont School first-graders under the direction of music teacher Max Mellman sang “Here We Go Round the Maypole High” as they circled the 10-12 foot tall pole. The pole was dressed with ribbons in every color of the rainbow with a crown of flowers at the very top.

“The dance the children perform looks very simple but is complicated. A very impressive bunch of first-graders,” said Mellman.

The event was organized by May in Montclair Committee members Ellyn Minor and Margot Cochran. The Rev. Dave Shaw of Union Congregational United Church of Christ gave the invocation. May in Montclair Chair Karen Shinevar asked the children if any of them planted tulips or flowers in the garden. “We couldn’t have a May Day celebration without [the students],” she said. “The sun came out for you,” she added.

Watchung School fourth- and fifth-graders under the direction of music teacher Henry Boote sang “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles and “Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In” by The 5th Dimension. The event concluded with Northeast School fifth- and sixth-graders performing the instrumentals “The Thunderer” and “Cyberspace Overture,” directed by music teacher Shawn Dey.

According to Cyndee Rowan, vice chair for May in Montclair, the township celebration began in 1979. Mellman believes Montclair’s Maypole ceremony started about 15 years ago.

Why do people dance around a giant pole on the first day of May? According to New World Encyclopedia, the custom dates back to a pre-Christian Celtic celebration of Beltane, the third of four fire festivals marking the turning of the seasons; also known as the Wheel of the Year. The other three are Samhain (Oct. 31), Imbolc (Feb. 2) and Lughnasadh (Aug. 1). For followers of European indigenous religions, Beltane marks the beginning of summer. Samhain and Beltane divide the calendar in half: winter honoring the dead and summer celebrating life. Beltane is also the last of three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc, or lambing time, and Ostara, the Spring Equinox. It was the start of the light half of the year when its opposite, Samhain marks the beginning of the dark half, when the days grow shorter. These two Sabbaths are considered to be the most important of the eight. The word “Beltane” derives from the Celtic God Bel and “teine,” the Gaelic word for fire. Celts light a bonfire to honor the sun to encourage a bountiful harvest. The Maypole symbolizes the joining of the God and Goddess; to the Celts she is usually known as Danu.


Those who missed Monday’s colorful ritual can join the festivities on Saturday, May 20, when St. James Episcopal Church will host a Renaissance Faire sponsored by Montclair Early Music and St. James Players. “Robin Hood at the May Faire” will take place on the front lawn of the church at 581 Valley Road, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

“We will be crowning Robin Hood and Maid Marion,” said Julienne Pape of Montclair Early Music. This is symbolic of crowning of the May queen and king, she explained. “Sometimes the May king and queen are Robin Hood and Maid Marion, but [they don’t] have to be,” she added.

“Children would go out in the woods and bring back branches and flowers and leave at people’s doorsteps,” said Pape. Children will be dressed as fairies and perform “The fairy round.” They will also give out flowers during the “May Day Song.”

There will also be instrumental music of the 15th century. “It will be something very unusual. I don’t think people have seen these instruments before,” said Pape.

Performers at the May Faire include Montclair Early Music Recorder Consort, Ring A-Bell Morris Dancers, Musica Tramontano, Madrigal Singers, St. James Shakespeare Company and Phil Delp. Harpist Christa Patton is the music director.

Attendees are encouraged to wear Robin Hood attire or floral garlands. Admission is free; registration is required by May 19. To register or for more information, visit, email or call 845-943-0610.

Praying for a Meeting

in Community/Religion/Spirituality
Courtesy Sarah O’Leary

Montclair Jews gather outside Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s Morristown office this past Saturday night, to celebrate Havdalah, the closing of Shabbat, during Passover. Bnai Keshet’s Rabbi Elliot Tepperman holds a guitar. Tepperman, Bnai Keshet’s Rabbi Ariann Weitzman and Congregation Shomrei Emunah’s Rabbi David Greenstein lead participants in celebrating liberation issues that resonate with the Passover story, and in asking Frelinghuysen for a follow-up meeting about embracing the stranger as it pertains to immigrants and refugees.

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