Last Thursday night Turkish Cultural Center held its 8th annual friendship dinner at the Baku Palace in Sheepshead Bay. This year the theme was combatting hate crime, and the event brought together about 300 neighbors, dignitaries, and public officials from across the borough and across religious denominations.
Local Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz started the evening off with an impassioned speech against hate, tyranny and recent political developments in Turkey (if you’d like to learn more, BBC has a great primer on Erdogan’s Turkey):
“There is still hope for Democracy in Turkey. I will continue fighting for the protection of freedom of press, respect for the basic rights of all, and the adherence to the rule of law in Turkey. I encourage everyone who was outraged by these human rights violations to join me in speaking out for the cause of justice in the spirit of tonight’s dinner, we are united by our values, our mutual respect, and our strong and abiding friendship”.
Reverend Joseph Johns gave the keynote address, focusing on similarities in suffering of all people, be they new immigrants or minorities, whether in East New York or in Sheepshead Bay.
Awards were presented:
- Peace Award – to Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, for his dedication to protecting the rights of immigrants.
- Community Service Award– Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (43rd Assembly District)
- Leadership Award – Cindy Greenberg
- Interfaith Dialogue Award – East Midwood Jewish Center and Our Lady of Refuge Church
- Career Excellence Award – Nancy Tong, the Democratic district leader in the 47th Assembly District (AD) who is currently running for Councilmember Vincent Gentile’s seat (43rd Council District).
There were endless plates of delicious food, and lovely traditional music:
At the entrance to the event, students from the Amity School had set up an exhibition of their art works. Some of the feelings expressed spoke to longing of many immigrants, like this piece titled “I wish I Could Go” by 11th grader Zehra Gulluce:
The caption reads: “An artist is always inspired by the realities of life; their artwork is an escape to express their feelings. This particular painting displays the feeling of missing home. Red, the color of extremes, illustrates how intense being away from home can get.”
Here are a few others: