“Morning Prayer” performed by Saphira Rameshfar

May 21, 2016

The music clips heard in our May podcast interview with Al Cadena of the Bahá'í Center of NYC are taken from the song “Morning Prayer.”  The words are those of Baha'u'llah, the founder of the Bahá'í faith.  The music was written, and the song is performed by, Saphira Rameshfar.

Lyrics:

 “Morning Prayer”

I have risen this morning by Thy grace, O my God, and left my home trusting wholly in Thee, and committing myself to Thy care.  Send down, then, upon me, out of the heaven of Thy mercy, a blessing from Thy side, and enable me to return home in safety even as Thou didst enable me to set out under Thy protection with my thoughts fixed steadfastly upon Thee.

 There is none other God but Thee, the One, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

 

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“Music Can Say Things that the Heart Cannot Find Words to Say” - Michael Manswell on Yoruba, the Arts, and Spiritual Transformation

April 23, 2016

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews dancer, singer, choreographer, teaching artist, artistic director and Orisha devotee Michael Manswell.  Mr. Manswell talks about the origins and practices of the Yoruba tradition (one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa), religious leadership, and "Something Positive," an arts and education organization dedicated to the art and culture of the African Diaspora and its cross-cultural influences through performance and education.

 

On his preferred title of "devotee": I have always felt that the word "priest" places you in a solitary position, in a kind of enforced solitude ... whereas the Yoruba [leader] is part and parcel of who the community is... is woven into the fabric.

 

On divination: "Opening the portals so you can see your possible paths ... or the possibilities that lay if you were take a certain action ... or not."  

 

On chanting and movement: "It is a channel through which you can present your petition, your thanks,your rage, your disappointment, your hurt your grief, your love to the divine because it inhabits a place that’s not seen."

 

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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“A Commitment to Radical Equality” - Sonny Singh on Revolutionary Sikhism, Advocacy & Bhangra Music

March 20, 2016

On Sikhism:

"It's about having direct devotion and access to the Divine, and if that's our way of thinking, that is a commitment to radical equality.  Prayer is an important access point to the divine, but prayer is also fighting against injustice, organizing, feeding people, clothing people..."

On being a faith leader:

"There's no concept of 'clergy' in the Sikh faith.  I define [a faith leader] as someone who is organizing and mobilizing people from a particular faith community for ... at its best, various forms of social and economic justice."

On leadership opportunities for youth:

"We're seeing very smart and on-point young folks that are challenging some of the more conservative elements of our community... about homosexuality, caste, and gender equality."

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews Sonny Singh, a Brooklyn-based justice educator, activist, published writer and community organizer and musician, who talks with us about Sikhism, his call to social justice, and the expression of his faith and calling in music. 

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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“What it Means to Stand Together”- Imam Khalid Latif on faith leadership and collaboration

February 13, 2016

"Legitimacy can be established through credentials ... or it can be established through a track record and work experience, that you have indicated through some type of continuous effort that you are someone worth listening to."

"Our bigger challenge today is ... the amount of indifference that exists.  That you see injustice taking place in front of you, and you have the ability to do something about it, and you still don't.  You can have a perspective on a person or a community that they represent, without having ever met someone from that community."

"Find the courage to go and be with those who are different rather than waiting for them to be with you."

In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews Imam Khalid Latif, who shares with us his experience as the first Muslim chaplain of NYU, the emerging faith leadership of young adults, and how conviction inspires and necessitates a person to work across faith lines. 

We're pleased that this episode will be the first entry in the Storybank of Religions for Peace USA’s "Our Muslim Neighbor" initiative, a long-term collective impact effort geared toward combating Islamophobia with a positive, informed, and consistent message of Islam and Muslims in the U.S.

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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“Without a Vision, There is No Way in Life You Can Succeed” - Dr. Uma Mysorekar on Hinduism and Her Path to Founding the NY Ganesh Temple

January 12, 2016

About Hinduism and Monotheism: "Hindus believe in one supreme Brahman. The anciet sages and the seers always worshiped a formless form of the Lord. The form came in for common people to be able to focus their worship."

On Hinduism and deitieis: "We strongly believe that God is in everything.  You can invoke God in a piece of stone.  Every part of a deity's body gives us a message - Ganesha's ears prompt us to be good listeners, his eyes teach us to be focused."

On the role of the House of Worship: "Temples are bulit for a community platform, people get married here, children love to come and sing, dance."

On Religious Diversity: "We must appreciate differences.  Ultimately we all want to reach the supreme lord.  All religions are equal. In our prayers, we always say 'Let the entire universe be happy and healthy.'"

In the fifth episode of our free podscast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews Dr. Uma Mysorekar, about her roots in faith, her medical practice, and giving back to the community, helping to found the Hindu Temple Society of North America – New York City’s oldest and largest Hindu temple, in Flushing, Queens.

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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“You Have to be a Testimony” – Theo and Phyllis Harris Discuss Life After Incarceration and the Redemptive Power of Music

December 6, 2015

Maggi Van Dorn talks with Theo and Phyllis Harris, stars of the Off Broadway show “Alive 55+ and Kickin"

“Every time I lift my eyes to the sky, I’m reminded of a time in my life
When all the dark clouds hung over me, I was lost inside, in search of a key.
I remember loved ones being so kind, saying things would get much better with time.
And I admit sometimes it did for a while, then I’d find myself back under the cloud.
But right in the midst of the rain, my heart was so filled with pain,
You came and rescued my soul, and then your love took control.
Right in the midst of the rain you taught me to smile again.
My life was awesomely changed right in the midst of the rain.”

In the fourth episode of our free podscast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews Theo and Phyllis Harris, about their lives and art.  During Theo’s many years of incarceration, Phyllis struggled with raising a family.  In their shared love of singing, the two of them found the strength to keep their marriage together and give inspiration to countless others through their performances in “Alive 55+ and Kickin,” at the Dempsey Theater in Harlem.  The show, now in its third year, was produced by Vy Higginson, creator of the acclaimed gospel musical “Mama, I want to Sing.”  As described on the “Alive 55+ and Kickin'” website, the show is about “the healing and transformative power of story and song. With music ranging from gospel, to soul, to blues, to R&B, to pop, and Broadway, ALIVE! captures a wide spectrum of the total Black experience in sound.”

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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“Polishing the Inner Mirror” – Sheikha Fariha al Jerrahi on the Sufi Path of Unveiling Divine Love

November 14, 2015

On Sufism: “The inner knowledge of the nature of the human being, and the divine reality within the human being.”

On being a female Muslim leader: [When you’re not used to it], that’s why you find all these so called holy reasons why it shouldn’t be.”

On Rumi: “When love speaks, it will express itself in poetic form, like the hymns we sing.”

In the third episode of our free podscast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews Sheikha Fariha of the Nur Ashki Jerrahi tariqa located in Tribeca, who speaks about the spiritual path of Sufism, the direct transmission of divine love through the relationship of Sheikha and dervish, and the awakening of the heart in community worship.

We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

www.interfaithcenter.org

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“Beyond the Songs, There is Something Deeper” - Babalawo Antonio Mondesire on Music, Sacrifice, and His Journey to Ifá Priesthood

October 10, 2015

In the second episode of our free podscast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Babalawo Antonio Mondesire reflects on his journey to the Ifá priesthood, a life story weaving together culture, race, politics, faith, all expressed and influenced by the power of music.

Baba Tony was born in the Bronx to parents of Puerto Rican and Eastern Caribbean (Dominica) ancestry.  He is an Ifá Priest, Spiritual Counselor, Educator, and Percussionist.  The spiritual title Babaláwo (or Baba for short) literally means “father of esoteric studies,” and the term “Ifá” may be translated as “encoded, esoteric, universal knowledge, wisdom and understanding.”

The ancient tradition of Ifá is held in high esteem among the Yoruba people of West Africa, and throughout the African diaspora.  The colonial slave trade brought the tradition of Ifá to Cuba and other Caribbean nations, and more recent patterns of immigration have brought it to the United States directly from Yoruba land and Nigeria. In Cuba, the Yoruba practice of praying to God, Oludumare, was achieved through relationships with the Orisha, or spirits – what Baba Tony calls God’s deputies and emissaries to humanity.

Enslaved Africans found ways to camouflage Orisha with attributes of Roman Catholic saints in order to comply by the laws of the state, circumvent sanctions and avoid persecution for practicing any expression of African religion. What began as a survival adaptation has since evolved into a diaspora model for African inspired spirituality.  “Santeria” remains a common term for Yoruba religious expressions in the United States and the Caribbean, however, the more accurate term is Lukumi, or simply Yoruba.

Throughout our interview, Baba Tony describes how both the Ifá and Lukumi spiritual traditions – as well as the inspiration of music – came together in his search for identity, meaning, and theological grounding.

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The Tradition of Ifá and Lukumi

October 10, 2015

This is a brief introduction to terms relating to Ifá faith practice that are referenced in our primary podcast episode "Beyond The Songs, There is Something Deeper." 

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“Setting Up a Tent and Inviting People In” - Cantor Mike Weis talks music, a return to Judaism, and an interfaith music festival

August 24, 2015

ICNY is pleased to lauch a new podcast series called “NYC Faith Leaders,” featuring interviews with diverse faith leaders throughout the city.  In the first installment, Mike Weis talks about how he was called to his role as Cantor at the Brotherhood Synagogue in Manhattan, the role of music in expressing faith and in bringing people together, and his plans to establish an interfaith music festival.  We also offer some supplemental audio of Mike singing “Avinu Malkeinu,” and discussing the function of “tropes” in the ritual chanting of Hebrew scripture during synagogue services.

We hope you will subscribe to this series, and download the podcasts to listen while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  It”s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors.

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