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West End Presbyterian Church

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165 West 105th Street
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Lost Gem
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Manhattan 1 Churches Founded Before 1930 undefined

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church of Manhattan

Even after walking 100 streets, from the East River to the Hudson, I continue to uncover fascinating stories about some incredible people. When I initially attempted to open the doors to the Trinity Lutheran Church, I could not get in. As I was standing across the street, however, a few minutes later, I noticed a young man exiting the door down below. I quickly crossed back over 100th Street and introduced myself to Hans, who turned out to be the Pastor's son - that pastor being Heidi Neumark, Hans' mom. Though I have visited dozens of churches in Manhattan, and I am sure that there are many women in senior spiritual leadership positions, Heidi was the first one I had heard of by name. Hans kindly stepped back inside the church and invited us in. He was not only as charming as could be, but also very knowledgeable about the history of the church and the building, itself, but then this has been his home for much of his childhood. Trinity Lutheran plays an important role in the neighborhood. "We've been here longer than anything else, " Hans pointed out. The church was built in 1892, before Robert Moses came along with his grand ideas for city planning. The building survived the reconstruction in the 1960s and has thrived in the same spot for over 100 years. Hans took us into the sanctuary, where natural light streamed through large, clear windows. He explained that though the church has stained glass, they had to take it down when the thirteen-story building next door was being constructed so that it would not be damaged. We were able to see some of the stained glass, however, when Hans showed the Manhattan Sideways team through the inside of the organ to the wooden staircase that winds around the interior of the church's steeple. Here, we discovered one window's stained glass that had been left in place. The church is very liberal. The congregation open to everyone, no matter their race, sex, income, sexuality, or gender identity. Heidi even welcomes congregants to change pronouns and nouns in sacred texts that give a gender to God. Signs of inclusion and openness are everywhere in the church. There is a beautiful mural hanging from the organ loft that depicts a black Jesus. "Everyone finds their own message in it, " Hans said. Trinity Lutheran continues its liberal vision in community outreach programs, including housing a homeless shelter for gay young men from age 18-21. After speaking about the history of the church, Hans went on to talk about his family. We were completely captivated as he relayed how his parents met while his mom was doing missionary work. Heidi was an activist, smuggling books into Argentina. When she returned to the United States, she worked with prostitutes, gang members, and drug addicts in the Bronx. Though she was raised as a German Lutheran, she learned in 2009 that her father was actually a German Jew. Afraid of further persecution, he raised his children Christian, and the family did not find out their true heritage until decades later. Heidi wrote a book about the discovery and her new questions about her identity entitled, "Hidden Inheritance: Family Secrets, Memory, and Faith. " It is her second book after "Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, " a memoir. In ending his story, Hans sweetly proclaimed, "She's the matriarch of the family, "

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Lost Gem
Silver Moon Bakery 1 Bakeries undefined

Silver Moon Bakery

Judith Norell is one of those extraordinary people who prove that anything is possible with the right amount of passion and hard work. When she was sixty years old, she retired from her life as a concert harpsichordist. Instead of using her retirement as an excuse to pick up new hobbies and spend her days in leisure, Judith decided to pursue arguably one of the most time-consuming careers - baking. Judith had always enjoyed baking. As a little girl, she would watch her mother bake bread and relish the pieces of dough her mother handed her just for play. Judith used baking as a way to create balance in her otherwise musical life. Whenever she could find time apart from performing, traveling, and conducting, Judith would make breads and pastries. "Music is very ephemeral, " she told me. "Most musicians love working with their hands. " Whether it is baking, or pottery (Judith's daughter, a concert violinist, is also a ceramicist), those with careers in music choose to embrace hobbies and arts that leave them with something a little more permanent than songs and symphonies. Making the shift from being a musician to baking was not smooth sailing. After working as an apprentice at Amy's Bread, Judith discovered that it was difficult to find a job. People questioned her ability to lift a flour sack due to her age and gender. Judith then turned her sights towards France, a country that she calls, "The home of great bread. " She studied with Gerard Mulot, allowing her knowledge of baking to grow. She admired the French practices: "The French bakers actually know the farmers from whom they buy the wheat, " she explained, adding that it is difficult to operate bakeries like that in the United States due to the number of independent farmers and the expense. Upon Judith's return to the United States, she worked at Le Pain Quotidien for a short time before discovering a "For Rent" sign on a property across the street from her apartment. She befriended the landlord, Georgia Stamoulis, who ultimately became her partner, and opened Silver Moon Bakery in 2000. The name, Judith informed me, comes from her experience as a long-time meditator. In Buddhism, Buddha is referred to as "the silent moon in the sky, illuminating everything. " Family and friends suggested that "Silent Moon" might not be the best fit, especially since the bakery would not be very silent, given Judith's desire to play classical music over the speakers, and so she decided to christen her new bakery "Silver Moon. "Silver Moon was the "first upscale commercial establishment in the area, " a fact that Judith has mixed feelings about. She realizes that she was at the start of a trend, which ultimately saw a lot of the local cafes and stores getting priced out. Ultimately, she recognizes that neighborhoods change, and she is happy to provide a community center for those living nearby. "I know a lot of the people, " she pointed out. "It's my home. "As for the items that Judith bakes, most of her ideas come straight from "her imagination. " She is delighted to have discovered a new pastry or a new combination of flavors. Judith is always concocting new ideas for things to try in her oven, but not before doing a bit of research. For instance, she started baking her famous "Bath Buns" after reading about the treats in works by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. She learned that they were sweet breads with caraway seeds and confit on top. The result was a bun that was crunchy with a slightly sweet top. She is also well known for her chocolate orange baguettes and her corkscrew sourdoughs. "I love sourdoughs, " she revealed, before enlightening me on their history and that humans have been making sourdough for a thousand years??? "And they feel healthy and nourishing. "When I visited Silver Moon Bakery in the summer of 2016, I felt like I was stepping into a special city oasis. Both the outdoor sounds and extreme heat disappeared as I entered the cool, calming shop. I met Jennifer, a staff member, who showed me the rows and rows of pastries and breads. "It's just a happy place to be and work, " she stated, and the other employees smiled in agreement. She is proud that "everything is done here, " which is impressive, considering that mixing dough is a 24-hour process. In addition to baked goods, Silver Moon offers a selection of smoothies, and a menu of vegetarian sandwiches. Judith generously packaged up some pastries for the Manhattan Sideways team, including a chocolate chip brioche (with chocolate generously spilling out of the sides), a cinnamon brioche, and a pommier (in Jennifer's words, "so simple, so buttery"). Each item was more scrumptious than the next.