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The Ethical Culture Society of Essex County


Platform Programs 2007-2008

Platform Programs each Sunday at 11:00 AM
Ethical Culture Society of Essex County
516 Prospect Street, Maplewood, New Jersey 07040
Corner of Parker and Prospect
Phone 973-763-1905


September 9 --   Boe Meyerson  Friendship: Its Meaning and Place in Our Lives. Leader Boe Meyerson will explore the concept of friendship in various cultures and times and will review some of the views of philosophers on this subject. She will also explore some of the ways friendships are built, sustained and lost.   Boe is Leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County and Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University.



September 16 -- Barbara Heisler Williams: Reclaiming Integration: A Conversation with OPEN's ED Barbara Heisler Williams

Integration, the ideal that once inspired an interracial movement to dream of a better America, has fallen into disuse and disfavor. Some see integration as obsolete, as if it has already been achieved, others see it as a misguided push towards homogeneity, and there are still those who see it as a threat to status quo segregation.

While pushing on the anti-discrimination and desegregation fronts, integration advocates have done little to confront not-in-my-backyard anxieties or pressures felt by people of color to assimilate. Desegregation and anti-discrimination, crucial as they are, define the limits to what we can accomplish through legal and legislative means alone. If more communities are to achieve a substantial degree of stable integration, characterized as much by neighbors’ social quality and mutual respect as by their racial and ethnic diversity, we must change private attitudes and choices, as well as public policies.

Join in the discussion of what "integration" means today.

Barbara Heisler Williams is the Executive Director of Fund for an OPEN Society. She became OPEN’s Executive Director in January 2006, after five years of active service on the Board of Trustees. Prior to joining Fund for an OPEN society, Barbara was the founding Executive Director of The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race, a model community integration maintenance organization; serving from 1996 to 2005.

Barbara is widely recognized as a consultant, public speaker and trainer on community integration strategies, affirmative marketing, group process, nonprofit management, strategic planning and organizational development. Using this experience, she has run a successful consulting practice, and served as the VP/ Director of Affiliate Services for the National Interfaith Hospitality Network, a national organization with presence in over 30 states working to alleviate family homelessness.

She has served in Senior Regional and Divisional positions at the US Department of Education and in senior administrative positions at several universities. Barbara has co-authored articles published in New Jersey Municipalities and The Student Aid Transcript and has been quoted in articles in several major dailies and magazines including The New York Times, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Newark Star Ledger, Family Circle, American Planning Association Magazine, and MONEY Magazine.

Barbara’s leadership has been recognized with awards from The American Psychological Association, LeadershipNJ, numerous municipal resolutions and extensive coverage in national and local media. Her work has been acknowledged with awards on the local, state and national level. In addition to being honored with Maplewood NJ’s 2006 Distinguished Service Award, and the Beloved Community Award from the South Orange NJ Civic Organization, Barbara has twice been recognized with Joint Resolutions from the NJ State Legislature. Additional tributes include Community Coalition on Race recognition awards, honors from the City of Slidell LA for her efforts post-Katrina to restock local libraries, the US Secretary of Education's Volunteer Action Award, the US Assistant Secretary of Education's Mentor Award, Habitat for Humanity Newark "Hero Award" and a US Dept of Education Special Commendation.

Barbara shares her time with a number of non profit organizations including the Women’s Fund of NJ; League of Women Voters Education Finance Committee; Maplewood Concierge Company; Domestic Violence Crisis Intervention Team, Maplewood; Reading = Success Community Book Drive Program of South Orange/Maplewood; two parent/teacher school associations in Maplewood, NJ, and as a member of NJ Governor Corzine’s Transition Committee.

Barbara lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and two children.




September 23 --Silvain Ehrenfeld The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Contrasting Narratives. He will be discussing the evolving options under consideration in the struggle to help the Israelis and the Palestinians forge some form of peaceful coexistence.
Sylvain Ehrenfeld is IHEU Representative to the UN; his wife, Phyllis Ehrenfeld, is AEU’s National Service Conference Representative to the UN. Sylvain Ehrenfeld is retired from his position as Professor of Statistics at the City University of New York. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, and the University of California at Berkeley. He has given courses at the New School for Social Research in New York City on Population, Technology, and Future studies. He received his Ph.D. at Columbia University, and he has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Arizona, the Mathematics Institute in Holland, and in Israel where he helped to establish a department of Industrial Engineering at the Technion, the Israel Institute of Engineering. Dr. Ehrenfeld is currently involved at the United Nations as one of several representatives of the International Humanist Ethical Union, one of the Non-Governmental Organizations there. He is particularly interested in issues relating to population and sustainable development.
Sept 30-- Edward Tick, PhD. Spirituality, Society, and Healing Our Veterans. War’s violence is so severe that it can cause the true self to become distorted or lost for life. Newest estimates state that 30% of Iraq returnees return with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with its multitude of disabling symptoms. Countless more return with severe disabling wounds to body and mind. Our society and the institutions meant to serve veterans are in crisis and at a loss as to how to respond to this massive wounding.

Dr. Edward Tick, author of War and the Soul: Healing Our Nations’ Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, will explore the inner world of combat and the universal dimensions of veterans’ wounding as revealed through world history, mythology, archetypal psychology and cross-cultural perspectives. We will examine Post-traumatic Stress Disorder as an identity disorder and soul wound. We will discuss psycho-spiritual interventions and social activism that rebuild veterans’ identities, shrink trauma and restore wounded dimensions of soul. We will consider what we civilians can and must do to transform our communities so our veterans can have safe and successful homecomings and how our communities and nation must be involved in healing from war.

Edward Tick, PhD, is a psychotherapist, writer, poet, mythologist, international journey guide and transformational healer. He has been working with veterans and survivors of violence and trauma for 30 years. Ed is founder and director of the non-profit Soldier’s Heart Foundation, dedicated to creating community-based veterans’ safe return initiatives across the country. He guides educational, healing, therapeutic and reconciliation projects nationally and internationally. Ed is author of War and the Soul: Healing Our Nations’ Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (2005), The Golden Tortoise: Viet Nam Journeys (2005), The Practice of Dream Healing: Bringing Ancient Greek Mysteries into Modern Medicine (2001), and Sacred Mountain: Encounters with the Vietnam Beast (1989). In all this work, Ed applies his own innovative, holistic and spiritually-based model of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder treatment, based on worldwide research into war and the warrior tradition, to support the survivor in developing an enlarged and strengthened identity that can carry, integrate and give meaning to the traumatic experience.


Oct 7-- Boe Meyerson Biomedical Ethics. Boe will address ethical challenges posed by new knowledge (mapping of the human genome) and technology in the biology and medicine. One such issue will be the challenge to human diversity as genetic manipulation of offspring more and more becomes a realistic option for parents


October 14-- Jane Erickson Adult Stem Cell Transplant — a Personal Perspective.   Jane Erickson will be talking about her own experience of having treatment with adult stem cell transplant. She has just had her two-year check up, giving her a perspective on this contentious issue that few of the pundits can match. She is willing and eager to answer questions.   Jane Erickson was choral music director at Millburn High School. She has taught in New Jersey, CT, and South Dakota. She has a degree in Music from Westminster Choir College in Princeton NJ, and Masters work at Boston University in Drama. She lives in Maplewood with her husband and son. She teaches voice to adults, and is a quilter.


October 21-- Steven A. Sklar Melting Pot Meltdown? — Immigration update. Hate group invective, heated Congressional argument productive of nothing, 11 million undocumented people still stuck in legal limbo, rogue mayors enlisting local police to enforce laws they are (through no fault of their own) not trained to understand, and the July (Visa Numbers) Debacle: it can only be a talk on U.S. immigration today. Steven A. Sklar delivers this update on the melted down state of immigration law and policy. He will also put forth the view that migration is a human right, and defend it, if desired, against all comers (pun intended). Steve Sklar, a graduate of Yale and of Boston College Law School, is a Maplewood-based lawyer who has specialized in immigration law for 13 years.



October 28-- Interactive Member Platform on Health Care   Michael Moore set the ball rolling with his movie Sicko, and now, as the Election 2008 season heats up, competing voices are chiming in with ways to allay the often crippling anxiety Americans face with regard to their medical treatment. Members of the Social Action Committee, including Baqrbara Cotler, Boe Meyerson, Gladys Smith, WIn Thies, Sue Willis, and Barry Zack and will be exploring what some of the presidential candidates have in mind for the future of Health Care in the U.S. For a summary of information on the candidates, go to .


Nov 4--Boe Meyerson Happiness: What Is It and Is There A Path? Boe will  explore a variety of concepts of human happiness and the paths they lead us down. She will also consider to what extent happiness can be pursued and to what extent it is given to us by fate. Boe Meyerson is the Leader of the Ethical Society of Essex County and the Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University.


November 11-- Michelle Bobrow Eminent Domain Abuse: Personal and Philosophical Views. A community activist and advocate, Michelle Bobrow has had an interest in public affairs on all levels as well as ethical issues. Ms. Bobrow is a long-time resident of Maplewood and is active in several community organizations, including the League of Women Voters and the National Council of Jewish Women. She is a child advocate for CASA (a volunteer trained as a citizen advocate to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court) and is a trained parliamentarian.
Nov 18--Matthew LaClair Preaching in a Public School: Part 2   Matthew LaClair will outline what happened when he dared to object to his history teacher imposing his religious beliefs on his students, and the long battle he and his family faced before they were finally vindicated this past spring. After months of being treated as a pariah at school and in the town, he has been commended by the Board of Education for his “courage and integrity,” and the board has agreed to train teachers and students about the separation of church and state, and about the difference between the theory of evolution and the doctrine of creationism.   From Matthew: “I am a senior at Kearny High School. I have done a lot of acting including plays at Studio Players in Montclair and an off-Broadway play. I have taken on a strong interest in Constitutional and legal issues and politics. In my freshman year I created some controversy by refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance. The current episode, involving a proselytizing history teacher, has generated five articles and two editorials in the New York Times, along with a flurry of local print, television and radio coverage, and appearances on Anderson Cooper 360, Air America, Brian Lehrer, BBC international radio and several others. I have been selected to receive the Thomas Jefferson Student Activist Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Ethical Hero Award from the American Ethical Union, the Ethical Humanist Award from the New York Society for Ethical Culture and the James Madison Religious Liberty Award from the Center for Inquiry.”


Nov 25: The Joys and Challenges of Thanksgiving Fellowship. Annual post-Thanksgiving thanksgiving discussion, led by Boe; all attending are invited to participate.
December 2: "Communication and Conflict." Boe Meyerson is the Leader of the Ethical Society of Essex County and the Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University. In this platform, she will be exporing how we can deal with serious conflict in ways that can better read resolution. She will be sharing her views of Marshall Rosenberg's well-received book Nonviolent Communication.


Dec 9: John Fouts Gardenhire Life Lessons from a Black Father. John Gardenhire will share the lessons he gleaned from his father, growing up in Mud Town, the black ghetto in Topeka, Kansas. For those concerned about the absence of the fathers in so many black families, he offers wisdom from one very capable man, who provided his three children with the personal and social skills he knew they would need to be successful in their private and their public lives.John Fouts Gardenhire is a Maplewood resident. After graduating from the University of Kansas, he taught English at Lane Community College from 1969 to 1999. In addition to his latest book, Life Lessons from My Father, he has published a number of others, among them Understanding Sentence Analysis, Reading Analytically, Thought, TillieBig Day, and The Gardenhires Christmas Cookbook. He learned much of his cooking during summers spent with his Aunt Bert, who was cook to Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss)



Dec 16: Joe Gluck interviews Robert Wagner on life, love and music. Joe Gluck will interview Robert Wagner, principal bassoonist with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, asking him questions on such topics as music, politics in music, the gay community and the arts, the NJSO and the bassoon.
Mr. Wagner has been a member of the Orchestra since 1979. He is on the faculty at Princeton University as well as Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Mr. Wagner serves on the boards of the American Symphony Orchestra League and ArtPride New Jersey. He is a resident of Maplewood, NJ, where he teaches privately.
Joe Gluck, a former member of the St. Louis and Detroit Symphonies, recently retired after many years as a violinist of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Joe serves as the concertmaster of the Summit (New Jersey) Orchestra. As The Stirling Duo, with his wife, Mary, they perform about 40 concerts a year as a violin/piano duo (mostly lecture/recitals). They also are Co-Directors of a year-around amateur chamber music workshop. Joe is also the founder and conductor of The Stirling Chamber Orchestra.



Dec 23: Dr. Janet Larson Update on Afghanistan. Dr. Larson will give a slide presentation based on her research and a visit to Afghanistan last summer to learn what Afghans are doing to help their country recover from decades of war. Her conclusion: Despite what we hear, there is still a chance to achieve peace in the country. She met with leaders of all aspects of Afghan society, including a number of ?peace warriors?, as well as ordinary folk, street children, van drivers, and shop owners, and many Americans, including military personnel, and a member of the Blackwater security firm. Her illustrations range from vintage postcards of old Kabul, to shots of the people she met in the new Afghanistan.

Dr Janet Larson is an experienced journalist, a full-time member of the Rutgers Newark English and Women?s Studies faculties since 1978, and director of the English Masters? Program. Her strong interest in global affairs and human rights is reflected in her teaching and her journalism.




Dec. 30      Dr. Stephen J. Levine The Keys to Longevity. Just in time for the New Year, chiropractor Dr. Stephen Levine will outline three specific changes you can make immediately to ?literally stop the clock.? While we can?t control our genetic inheritance, he teaches that we can do something about our lifestyle. He will present an interactive workshop teaching what he sees as the secrets to staying young and vital, so we too can hope to join the world?s fastest growing age group ? the centenarians.
Dr. Levine is with the South Orange Chiropractic Center. He received his Doctor of Chiropractic Degree from Pennsylvania College. He is a certified chiropractic sports physician and has a diploma in pain management. In 1992, he served as a member of the medical staff of the Garden State Games and fulfilled the same role for the 1995, 1996 and 1999 New York City marathons. He is also the team chiropractor for the Seton Hall University Men?s basketball team.
Jan. 6: Boe Meyerson, Leader- "The  Ethical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant in the Twenty First Century"
Boe will explore the relevance and value of the Ethical theory of one of the world's greatest thinkers who, in the late 18th century, awakened  many of his philosophical contemporaries from their dogmatic slumbers. She will discuss his influence on our founder, Felix Adler, and comment on his contemporary relevance in ethical theory. Boe is the Leader of the our  Ethical Society and is also the Ethical Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University from which she holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy.
Jan 13 Gladys Smith “The Ethics of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” Gladys Smith will explore the principles and priorities that guided Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his fight for equality and justice for everyone through his writings as well as through his actions. Where do we stand now in terms of realizing his vision — the successes, failures, and lessons learned? Gladys Smith, who joined the Society earlier this year, is a social worker, community activist, and mother who recently spent several weeks visiting Egypt.
Jan. 20 - Lawrence Bush: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist
Lawrence Bush will talk about and read from his new book, Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, which explores the factors that turned so much of “the Woodstock generation” towards spiritual practices and the renewal of religious life. Dr. Joseph Chuman, leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, has described Waiting for God as “deeply personal, searingly honest, wise and witty. Seldom has ‘waiting’ been so dynamic, fascinating and insightful.” The book includes chapters on growing up with the Bomb, psychedelic drugs, synchronicity and quantum physics, and whether or not atheism has its own unique spirituality. Bush also offers a working definition of “spirituality” and “writes about non-belief with an empathy for believers missing from the works of the New Atheists” (New Jersey Jewish News).   Lawrence Bush is the editor of Jewish Currents, a 61-year-old bimonthly published by the Workmen’s Circle. He served as editor and commentator for the millennial edition of Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish. Bush’s own books include Bessie, a novel republished this year in paperback, American Torah Toons: 54 Illustrated Commentaries (1997), Jews, Money and Social Responsibility (1993, co-authored with Jeffrey Dekro), and two works of fiction for adolescents. He has also contributed fiction and essays to the New York Times, Village Voice, MAD magazine, Tikkun, Moment, and numerous other publications.







Jan. 27 - Chris Geissler - The Ethics of Vegetarianism
Christopher Geissler, a new member of  the Essex County Ethical Culture Society,  will present a lecture and discussion exploring the ethical dilemmas of eating, particularly regarding animal-based food. Vegetarianism has a long history stretching back for thousands of years, and the question of what is acceptable to eat is still being asked today.
Christopher will outline the history of vegetarian movements, explain the different facets of ethical eating, describe the views of prominent individuals and groups, and then offer his own solution, one which seeks to balance moral concerns with feasibility.   Christopher Geissler is currently a junior at Oratory Preparatory School in Summit, and has attended the Sunday Platforms of the Ethical Culture Society since the Spring of 2007. While not working for school or researching colleges, he throws pottery and reads about science and history. Christopher officially became a vegetarian in October, 2007, and lives in Maplewood with his family.














February 3- Boe Meyerson Ethical Humanism: A Religion of and for This Life, This Earth, This World, This Human Community
This address by Leader Boe Meyerson will focus on the defining characteristics of Ethical Humanism as presented by Edward Ericson in his authoritative study, “The Humanist Way.” Emphasis will also be placed on seeking to understand the ethical life as a challenging, enriching, and productive spiritual journey. During the presentation, there will be ample opportunity for audience participation.
Boe Meyerson is the leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. She is also the Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University.
February 10-- Michael Lally   Love, Politics and Poetry

Right after the Super Tuesday primaries and just before Valentine’s Day, poet/actor/teacher Michael Lally will explore, through poetry and dialogue, the intertwining dynamics of power and attraction that underlie political choices and personal relationships.
Born in Orange, New Jersey in 1942, youngest of seven in an Irish-American family of cops, priests, and politicians, Michael David Lally started out playing piano and reading his poetry in coffeehouses and bars in 1959. In 1962 he joined the Air Force. After more than four years as an enlisted man, he later used the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. During those years he wrote the autobiographical South Orange Sonnets, which led to a New York Poetry Center Discovery Award in 1972.
Lally’s first book was published in 1970. By 1980 there were twenty, including the 1974 poetry collection Rocky Dies Yellow, and the 1978 collection of prose and poetry Catch My Breath. In 1974 he received a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Award, the same year he wrote a long autobiographical poem, My Life, which on his receiving his second National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Award in 1981 was denounced as pornography on the floor of Congress by politicians out to discredit and dismantle the NEA. Lally moved to L.A. in 1982 to find work acting in movies and TV, while his writing found its way into several movies.
Lally’s Cant Be Wrong, a collection of poems, won a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Excellence in Literature award; and his It’s Not Nostalgia, a collection of poetry and prose, won an American Book Award.



February 17 Win Thies   Achieving Freedom for the Dying Now
With the Supreme Court's decision in 1997 holding Physician Assisted Dying as not Constitutionally protected, and with the jailing of Dr Kervorkian, a lot of energy seems to have gone out of the Freedom for the Dying Movement.  I think we can and should recapture that energy in NJ and "walk the walk" on PAD.  Dr. King worked hard and creatively to enlarge human freedom. He suffered for that, being jailed, reviled, eventually slain.  Surely we owe hard and creative work so that those at the end of life have freedom to write that final chapter in the book of their lives as they wish.
In preparation for his talk, Mr. Thies suggests you read his article Fairness, Freedom and the Dying






February 24 Gladys Smith and Rebecca Perez    An Egyptian Saga — Tracing roots in Africa
On this last Sunday of Black History Month, Gladys Smith and her friend, Rebecca Perez, will describe their trip to Egypt last November in search of family roots and new insights into their African connections. Rebecca Perez will have just returned from a second visit to Egypt to attend the wedding of new friends. Gladys Smith, who recently joined the Society, is a social worker, community activist, and mother.




March 2 Boe Meyerson: Victims Once Again: the Inequities of Global Warming
Leader Boe Meyerson will explore the dimensions of global warming and the projected devastating effects on the southern hemisphere. The scientific and moral implications will be discussed as well as social action options.
Boe is the Leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County and is also the Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University.
March 9 James White: A Humanist Confronts Death
....which fundamentally is about how we confront life. Jim will talk about loss and how its pain can make our relationships more and more dear. Equally important, realizing the limits to our lives can give our ethical-political commitments more depth and urgency as years go by. There really is Humanist immortality if we live our lives to the fullest.
Jim White is Leader Emeritus of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County. By profession, he is the principal attorney for Mental Hygiene Legal Services representing psychiatric patients in New York State. Jim is also a community activist in Harlem and with the Coalition Against the Violence Initiative.


March 16 Danny Fingeroth: Superman On The Couch: What Superheroes Tell Us About Ourselves And Society
• Have you ever been so angry you felt like you were “hulking out”?
• Did you ever walk into a dangerous situation and feel your “spider-sense” start to tingle?
• Have you ever fantasized that people would be sorry for the way they treat you if they only knew your “secret identity”?
In modern society, superhero culture has become the metaphorical prism through which we see--and live--our lives. How did this happen--and why? With the megahit status of movies like Spider-Man and Batman, and the red-hot popularity of TV series like Heroes there’s clearly a lot more to superheroes than pow! bam! zap!    Pop culture expert Danny Fingeroth, author of Superman On the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us About Ourselves and Our Society and the recently-released Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero (both from Continuum), reads from his landmark book, Superman on the Couch, and explores these colorful characters who are such potent myths for our times. Q&A to follow the presentation. A recognized expert on superheroes and comics, Danny Fingeroth was group editor of Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man line, consulted on early versions of what was to become 2002’s Spider-Man movie, and has written many comics for Marvel and other companies.

March 23 Azmat Hassan Violent Extremism with particular reference to South and South West Asia (originally scheduled for February 17)
Former Pakistani Ambassador Azmat Hassan will discuss the elections in Pakistan, the broader subject of violent extremism in the region and the possible responses to it from the governments involved and the international community.
Ambassador S. Azmat Hassan (Ret.) is a Senior Faculty Associate at the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University. He teaches courses on the history of diplomacy and on the modern middle east. A former career diplomat from Pakistan, he has served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Morocco, Syria and Malaysia. He is a frequent guest on TV and Radio as a commentator on foreign affairs. He lives with his family in East Hanover.

March 30    Karen Burns: Making a difference for children in foster care.
Essex County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) is an independent, court-authorized, nonprofit organization which works through professionally trained and supervised volunteers to promote the welfare of foster children in Essex County who have been removed from their homes because of parental abuse, neglect or abandonment.
CASA serves as a child’s “Voice in Court”, working to insure that needed services and assistance are provided while helping to move the child toward a safe and permanent home.
The focus of the presentation will be to demonstrate how volunteer CASA advocates can help improve the lives of abused and neglected children in foster care. Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers appointed by Family Court to gather information about a child’s needs while in foster care and to represent a “child’s voice in court”. For the over 2,700 foster children in Essex County, their time in out-of-home placement can often be lessened and their chances for trauma recovery greater through the presence of trained CASA Child Advocates. The presentation will present the scope of the foster care problem in Essex County and provide some insight into the lives of the children in the foster care system.
Karen Burns joined CASA as Executive Director in September 2002. Karen believes that “Childhood is very short, and it is our challenge and societal responsibility to provide more Child Advocates for traumatized foster children.” A social responsibilities activist for faith-based outreach programs to Newark and other municipalities, she serves on the Board of Wind of the Spirit, a Morris county-based Immigrant/Labor Rights group. She is married with two adult children.


April  6    Dr. Edward TickHealing and Forgiveness in Vietnam (Welcoming the Warriors). Dr. Edward Tick will discuss, with film, his eighth trip back to Viet Nam with veterans to help them seek reconciliation and healing from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). An afternoon session will explore how we civilians can transform our communities for successful homecomings so that healing can happen for our veterans from Iraq and all wars. Dr. Tick is a psychotherapist, writer, poet, mythologist, international journey guide and transformational healer. He has been working with veterans and survivors of violence for 30 years. He is founder and director of the non-profit Soldier’s Heart Foundation dedicated to creating community-based veterans’ safe return initiatives across the country.

April 13     Norman Gershman: Besa — To Keep the Promise. Righteous Albanians saved over 2,000 Jews during the Holocaust, hidden by Albanian Muslim families throughout the war. Albania was the only country to boast a larger number of Jewish people after WWII than prior to the Holocaust. Norman Gershman, a long-time former member of our Essex Ethical Society, a humanist, man of conscience and prize-winning photographer, traveled to Albania and Kosovo to chronicle the tales of the righteous Albanians and their devotion to Besa, an Albanian code of honor. Featured at the United Nations and the Hebrew Union College, these photos and their stories will be presented by Mr. Gershman during this Platform. His work has been lauded in Congress and by Jimmy Carter. In Congress: “When we find common ground, our minds are safe and open to limitless possibilities for dialogue, tolerance and change”. Mr. Gershman is a fine art photographer with his work shown in various museums throughout the world. His work is described as humanistic rather than as photojournalism and has brought people together with his work in the former Soviet Union, Cuba and Muslim Albania. He has taught his humanistic photography in many prestigious art institutes in the U.S.
April 20 Gladys Smith and Rebecca Perez: An Egyptian Saga — Tracing roots in Africa Gladys Smith and her friend, Rebecca Perez, will describe their trip to Egypt last November in search of family roots and new insights into their African connections. Rebecca Perez will have just returned from a second visit to Egypt to attend the wedding of new friends. Gladys Smith, who recently joined the Soci-ety, is a social worker, community activist, and mother. [Rescheduled from Feb. 24]
April 27: Boe Meyerson (Please note that Boe changed her Platform date for April to enable Ed Tick to address us on April 6th) The Brilliance of Amartya Sen’s ‘On Ethics and Economics' . Amartya Sen is the Lamont University Professor at Harvard University in the Departments of Economics and Philosophy. He has broken down barriers and walls which have for so long separated classical economics from ethical considerations and the ways they interact without sacrificing the integrity of either discipline. Boe Meyerson is the Leader of the Essex Ethical Society and the Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University.



May 4 Boe Meyerson: The Iraqi War: An Object Lesson in Hubris and Ignorance    This disastrous and unprovoked war which has taken so many young American and Iraqi lives, wounded in body and soul so many others, and produced nothing but misery and greater insecurity, is America’s greatest boondoggle since the Vietnam War. It teaches us how little we learn from experience. The speaker will give a brief presentation followed by a guided open discussion in which the audience is invited to participate. Boe Meyerson is the leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Essex County and is also the Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University.
May 11 Meredith Sue Willis Forty Years Later: We Were Your Children   [The “We Were Your Children” refers to a book called We Are Your Children about young radicals of the 60s generation.] This year is the fortieth anniversary of the events of 1968, one of the most revolutionary moments in recent history. The people who were young then thought they were leaving the world of their mothers and fathers behind forever. How does it look today? Meredith Sue Willis, author of Trespassers, a novel about the 1968 Columbia University anti-war sit-ins, has just finished participating in the 40th anniversary of those events. Now married and the mother of a grown son, involved in teaching and writing and in a local integration organization, she will talk about some recent memoirs about the radical life, about the changes in her point of view— and she’ll invite you to talk about your changes.
      Meredith Sue Willis, fiction writer and native of West Virginia, teaches novel writing at New York University. She is a past president of the Essex Ethical Culture Society and past chair of the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race. She was the featured writer in the fall 2006 issue of Appalachian Heritage, and her children’s book Billie of Fish House Lane was one of the Two Towns One Book choices for 2007. She lives in South Orange with her husband Andy Weinberger, a rheumatologist in private practice and also a past president of Essex Ethical! Their son Joel recently graduated from Brown University.



May 18 Mark Hyman and his students from Tenafly Middle School’s Global Care Unlimited: The Ethiopian School Construction Initiative Mark Hyman is the founder and president The Global Care Unlimited (GCU) Student Club at the Tenafly Middle School. He and his students will be talking about their Ethiopian School Construction Initiative and its goal to build a Pre-K to Grade 10 School in Awassa, Ethiopia. The objectives of GCU are:
• To educate American communities about the history, cultural diversity and humanitarian needs in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia
• To sponsor the construction of a K-10 school for orphans, vulnerable and rural children in Ethiopia
• To create global connections between American and Ethiopian students.
Previous projects:
• The Landmine Removal Initiative (2000 – 2003) raised $40,000, including matching funding from the U.S. Dept. of State, for demining in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
• The Cambodian Survivor Initiative (2004) raised $11,000 to support vocational rehabilitation for 100 Cambodian landmine survivors.
• The Cambodian Humanitarian Initiative (2005 – 2006) raised $10,200 to support cultural renewal and educational initiatives for child shanty-town dwellers in Phnom Penh.

May 25 Memorial Day Weekend Colloquy honoring those we’ve lost.

June 1 Boe Meyerson, Leader: My Ideal Ethical Society. Leader Boe Meyerson will discuss her vision of an ideal Ethical Society. Ideals are not realities. They are chosen aims which a person or a group of people aspire to pursue and attain. She will discuss what she believes is necessary to enhance our ability to create a more humane and just world for others as well as to enhance our own capacity to create the “beloved community” in which we nurture the best in each other in good fellowship and shared commitment. Boe’s address will explore some ways to pursue these goals. Boe Meyerson is the Leader of The Ethical Society of Essex County and is also the Humanist Chaplain at Columbia University.


June 8 Andrew Kafel: Close the School of Assassins and open a School of Peace.  Andy Kafel will be speaking on behalf of NYC SOA Watch and showing a 20 minute video: “Hidden in Plain Sight.” NYC SOA Watch is a small grassroots local chapter of SOA Watch, an “independent organization that seeks to close the US Army School of the Americas, under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work.”   Andy Kafel, an activist living in Jersey City, is interested in promoting peaceful resolution of conflict with justice. In addition to NYC SOA Watch, he has been involved with NY CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) for 10 years, the NYC Peoples’ Referendum on Free Trade for 7 years and Grassroots Haiti Solidarity Committee for two years. He travels to the Fort Benning Vigil almost every year, reads liberally and takes his world citizenship very seriously. (See “SOAW 11” story on page 3).


June 15   Rev. Tony Johnson: Liberationist Humanism.   My brand of humanism derives fromstruggles for personal and social liberation. Rock music is one medium of the struggle. This address draws on a lifetime of experience and three outstanding songs. The Rev. Tony Johnson is a Unitarian Universalist minister affiliated with the Community Church of New York. He was previously parish minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Essex County and Unitarian congregations in East Brunswick, New Jersey and Burbank, California and has served in leadership positions in numerous professional and social justice organizations. He has taught at Bloomfield College, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Monmouth University and the New School and published articles on religion, society and philanthopy.







[This is our last platform before the July-August break. Best wishes for the Summer!]



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