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Brunch with Bluestone Ancient Order of the Hibernians ; Annual "Scout Banquet" and "Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths"

On Sunday morning, February 21st, we drove over the East Side Irish American Club (ESIA) on Lake Shore Blvd. to enjoy a brunch put on by the Bluestone Ancient Order of the Hibernians.

We talked to Mr. Billy Dodd and Mr. Chuck Comiskey, both of whom were serving people in the buffet line, about the local food drive and scholarship program organized by the Hibernians which would benefit from the proceeds raised at this event.

IMG_8227Before we arrived, though, we decided that we were not hungry from having eaten some grape-nuts a relatively short time earlier so we bought a ticket at the door from Mr. Michael and Ms. Martha Byrneand arranged that it be given to someone short of funds. So instead of eating, we sat around and visited with people that we knew including Mr. Patrick Coyne who organizes the Celtic Fest each year.

We shared a table with Ms. Joyce Brady who seemed to remember us from somewhere. As it turned out, she was with the League of Women Voters and helps to register new U.S. citizens to vote after they are sworn in at a ceremony that takes place  twice yearly at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor. We have been to this gathering twice and plan to go again this year close to the 4th of July and close to Constitution Day in September.

Since we had nothing to eat earlier at the ESIA we were really hungry for lunch about an hour later so weIMG_8238 headed over to the Parish Hall at St. Emeric Church on West 22nd Street in Cleveland for the annual"Scout Banquet" put on by the American Hungarian Friends of Scouting.

About two weeks earlier, we had spoken to Ms. Andrea Meszaros, the Cleveland District Commissioner of the Scouts as well as a Board member of the Hungarian Museum, who gladly arranged to have a ticket ready at the door for us. While we waited in line to retrieve our ticket, we talked about recent trends involving immigration with Mr. Odon Szentkiralyi, a longtime member of the Hungarian Scouts who IMG_8235 immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1956.

We sat at the same table as Ms. Gracie Nagy whose late husband was also a "'56er" immigrant from Hungary even though she, herself, is Irish. We told her that as odd as it sounded, we had just come from an Irish brunch and we both laughed.

IMG_8233By contrast, Ms. Loretta Toth told us that her family (on both sides) immigrated here from Hungary around the turn of the 20th century.

As we waited for the main courses of the lunch to be served, we nibbled on some pogacsa (rolls with crackings) that we obtained from the bar and liked them so much that we put in $6.00 and Ms. Margie Feldhouse put in $6.00 to buy a big bag for our table. When lunch was finally served we dunked the pogacsa into the gomba leves (mushroom soup) and the results were delicious.

Fortunately, we had a great young server, Ms. Alex Balassy (a scout herself), who patiently explained to us the Hungarian terms for the IMG_8230foods that we were eating and took good care of our table.

During the brief program, Ms. Bea Tabor, President of the American Hungarian Friends of Scouting, explained that events like this raised the money to assist young scouts so they could concentrate on their scouting activities. This was fine with us because we observed everyone wearing a scout uniform (younger and older) working hard to make this event a success.

Later on we were shown slides from last summer's Hungarian Scout Jamboree that took place in Fillmore, New York. We were told that 702 Hungarian Scouts came from all over the world to be there IMG_8231and approximately 137 of these (or 19%) travelled there from Cleveland.

Towards the end of the program, Mr. Mathias Tabor of the Cleveland Hungarian Scouts Folk Ensemble talked about a trip to Hungary that is being planned for the summer of 2016. Some 25 scouts from Cleveland will travel through Hungary via bus and become directly familiarized with its customs and become more aware of their heritage. They will then return to Cleveland and share this knowledge with others.

That evening we went to the Dover Congregational United Church of Christ on Dover Center Road in Westlake for an Interfaith Panel Discussion regarding the book, "Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths" authored by Bruce Feiler featuring Rabbi Enid Lader from Beth Israel-The West Temple; Rev. Keith Stuart, Senior Minister of Dover Congregational UUC; and Shaykh Musa Sugapong from the Islamic Center of Cleveland and the Darul Qasim Institute.

The reason for this discussion was that "Abraham is considered pivotal in the origin of the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam" so this program will "provide an opportunity for participants to learn more about Abraham in the three faith traditions."

IMG_8240Rabbi Enid Lader and Shayh Musa Sugapong gave very well-researched presentations about Abraham and what he meant to their faiths. Rev. Stuart did also but, first and foremost, he wanted to remind us that the vision of the Dover Congregational U.C.C. was "to seek justice, love, kindness and walk humbly with God." He went on to say that he had his own faith but wanted to learn more about Islam and the Jewish faith and what connected all three of them. He believed that it would be dangerous for any of them to say that the interpretations of the story of Abraham by the other two faiths was "nice" but their own was better because such a viewpoint creates religious intolerance.

When the program got to the Q and A section, a person expressed her fear that due to the influence of the media and horror movies (i.e. eternal life means becoming a vampire) the young people of today are growing up "rudderless with no faith" and asked the panel to respond.

Rev. Stuart said that he had hope for the young people and cited his own children as an example. They didn't go to church much while they were in college but through working for justice and peace, instead of through rigid Christianity, they were rediscovering God on their own.

Rabbi Lader was very optimistic because she believed that many of the young people that she knew were "wonderful" and had "so much potential." She acknowledged that on questionnaires some of them don't put a check on anything in the "religious affiliation" column but are nevertheless very spiritual. In short, none of the youngsters that she knew were part of the "walking dead" but, instead, were part of the "walking living" and sought to make the world the best place that it could be.

Shaykh Sugapong contended that it all started in the home and it was the responsibility of the parents to raise their children to be part of a "multi-cultural society" and perhaps the best way to do this was to create a positive example for them.

We think, though, that the definite summation of the evening was delivered by Dr. Othman Shemisa, a respected Family Practice Physician who, himself, was a Muslim. Dr. Shemisa said that most of what he had read on his own or heard there at the church was 90% the same for all three faiths "and, since we all worship the same God, "why not?" We must enjoy our commonality and "allow each other our differences."

Written by:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.