Crowds of people from the area gathered Sunday for an interfaith choral concert celebrating the 10th anniversary of Neighbors Link.
The charity, which provides services to Mount Kisco’s large Hispanic community —programs include adult education and employment—stressed a message of inclusion and understanding between immigrants and people from this country.
“I think the objective of today was to share the Neighbors Link philosophy that not only did we work to integrate the immigrant community by teaching them our customs and our culture, but we also work to teach longer-term residents about why immigrants are here, and why immigrants come to this country,” said Carola Otero Bracco, the group’s executive director.
This message was furthered in the music of performers, who mostly came from houses of worship in several northern Westchester towns. The multitude of religious songs, from Christianity and Judaism, were the product of collaborative work by the Northern Westchester Interfaith Council. A list of participating churches and synagogues can be found here.
“Northern Westchester interfaith council is a wonderful organization, and all of the clergy were very, very happy to help,” said Barbara Merson, the executive director of Bedford’s Temple Shaaray Tefila, adding that the choirs were “just fantastic.”
The temple played a notable role in the event, as Rabbi David Greenberg gave a welcome, while Rabbi Jason Nevarez served as an emcee and gave an interfaith benediction at the end, in both English and Spanish.
Nicole Schwalbe, pastor of Mount Kisco’s Luthern Church of the Resurrection, praised Neighbors Link while she spoke before her church’s event, and said it was “truly an amazing model,” adding that “I hope it is copied in many, many places.”
Group after group came onto the stage at Fox Lane High School’s Mary Lou Meese Theatre to say prayers and sing hymns. The performances were upbeat, featuring songs such as “Siyahamaba” by the Antioch Baptist Church and the Pound Ridge Community Church, and “Patriotic Medley” by the Chappaqua Singers.
The event also included the announcement of winners of essay contests, and an informational video was shown describing how the group works and the services it provides. Officials from the area were on hand also included Westchester County Legislator Peter Harckham, Bedford Central School District Superintendent Jere Hochman and Fox Lane High School Principal Joel Adelberg.
Turnout was estimated to be several hundred people, based on early estimates by Carola Otero Bracco and Marianne Delaney, an organizer for the group.
“I don’t think when we were planning it, that we envisioned anything quite as big and grand as this, and we were just thrilled with how it all came out,” Merson said when asked what she thought of the event’s scope.
Neighbors Link will have another 10th anniversary celebration, at its Festival de Primavera, which is May 7, at 7 p.m. It will be held at the Brynwood Golf & Country Club in Armonk. Click here for more details.