“OPEN HEART CONVERSATIONS”

We’ll take you to Washington Heights’ United Palace for a dialogue about bridging the divide between religion and tradition.

For more information, click here. 

Aired on October 29 and December 24, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> THE UNITED PALACE OF P SPIRITUAL ARTS CREATED A MONTHLY FORUM CALLED OPEN HEART CONVERSATIONS WHOSE MISSION IS TO HELP NEW YORKERS COME TOGETHER AND FOSTER HUMAN RESPECT, A TALL ORDER WHEN DIVISIONS IS RAMPANT THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY AND INCREASINGLY OPPONENTS ARE SEEN AS ENEMIES.

THE CONCRETE GOAL IS FOR PARTICIPANTS TO LEARN ABOUT THE DIFFERENT FAITH AND WISDOM TRADITIONS THAT ARE FOUND RIGHT HERE IN OUR OWN COMMUNITY, TRADITIONS SUCH AS JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, HINDUISM, AND MANY OTHERS.

HERE TO TALK IS THE SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR OF THE PALACE, HEATHER SHAY.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

BEFORE WE GET INTO THE OPEN HEART CONVERSATIONS, I WONDER IF YOU COULD TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE UNITED PALACE.

WHAT IS IT?

WHERE IS IT?

AND HOW DID IT BEGIN?

SURE.

THE UNITED PALACE IS ONE OF THE WONDER THEATERS, GREAT LEGENDARY MOVIE THEATERS CREATED IN 1929.

IT WAS BUILT AS A VAUDEVILLE HOUSE AND MOVIE THEATER.

IN THE LATE '60s PEOPLE WEREN'T GOING TO THE MOVIES QUITE AS MUCH.

SO, AT THAT POINT THE CHURCH BOUT IT --

REVEREND IKE.

YES, AND TURNED IT INTO A SPIRITUAL CENTER AND ENTERTAINMENT CENTER.

SO, WE CONTINUE HAVE MOVIES, ARTS EDUCATION, AS WELL AS CHURCH ON SUNDAY AND THE OPEN HEART CONVERSATION.

THE UNITED PALACE IS ON 176th AND BROADWAY.

SO, IT IS IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS.

MANY NEW YORKERS HAVEN'T SPENT TIME COMING TO WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, BUT GET ON THE A-TRAIN AND COME ON UP.

COULD YOU ELABORATE ON THE BRIEF DESCRIPTION THAT I GAVE?

IT'S A MONTHLY FORUM WHERE WE GET TOGETHER TO DISCUSS AND EXPLORE THE GREAT RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD AND ALSO WORLD TRADITIONS.

WE LIKE TO HAVE PEOPLE CELEBRATE, PARTICIPATE, GET A LITTLE UNDERSTANDING BECAUSE PEOPLE MAY NOT BE AS EXPOSED TO TRADITIONS.

SO, FOR EXAMPLE, WE RECENTLY HAD ONE COME TALK ABOUT HINDUISM.

HE EXPLAINED ABOUT HINDUISM AND WE DID A MEDITATION AND PARTICIPATED IN THE MUSIC IN RESPONSE.

IT'S JUST A LITTLE OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE TO GET AN INSIGHT THEY MIGHT WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT A PARTICULAR RELIGION.

BEYOND LEARNING MORE ABOUT RELIGIONS, THE THING THAT GRABS ME, CAPTURES ME, IS THE END GOAL OF WANTING TO HELP FOSTER AND DEVELOP COMPASSION, TOLERANCE, UNDERSTANDING AMONG THE PARTICIPANTS, RIGHT?

BUT IT JUST STRIKES ME.

IT KIND OF MAKES ME SAD TO THINK ABOUT THAT GOAL AT A TIME WE'RE LIVING IN.

AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION, WE KIND OF HATE EACH OTHERS' GUTS AND FAR FROM WANTING TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS, WE WANT TO SHUT PEOPLE DOWN.

WE WANT TO SHUT THEM UP.

IS THIS A PROFICUOUS TIME FOR YOUR ENDEAVORS?

ABSOLUTELY.

AND WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT OUR ENDEAVOR IS THAT PEOPLE COME IN THE DOOR AND ONE OF THE LAST PROGRAMS IS ABOUT JUDAISM.

IT WAS DURING THE HARVEST FESTIVAL, AND WE HAD THE RABBI ROLL OUT THE TORAH.

SO, WE HAVE PEOPLE -- ABOUT 100 OR MORE PEOPLE HOLDING ON TO THE TORAH OF DIFFERENT RACES, RELIGIONS, BACKGROUNDS ALL SINGING AND CHANTING TOGETHER.

AND AFTERWARDS, SOMEBODY CAME AND SAID THIS IS AMAZING.

THIS IS ABOUT COMMUNITY.

THIS IS ABOUT HUMANITY.

SO, IT'S AN EXPLORATION.

AND WE BELIEVE THAT WE'RE ALL CONNECTED TO THE DIVINE SPIRIT IN SOME WAY WHETHER YOU CALL IT GOD, GODDESS, THE SUPREME BEING, WHATEVER THAT IS.

AND THERE'S DIFFERENT PATHWAYS.

AND PEOPLE CHOOSE DIFFERENT PATHWAY OR DIFFERENT TRADITION.

AND THEY SOMETIMES THINK MINE IS THE RIGHT WAY OR ONLY WAY.

WE'RE SAYING COME EXPLORE OTHERS.

YOU MIGHT LIKE A LITTLE BIT OF IT.

YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT IT.

CHOOSE YOUR OWN PATH.

WHAT IF WE DON'T HAVE ANY SPIRITUAL FAITH?

IS IT STILL FOR US?

ABSOLUTELY.

ABSOLUTELY.

I THINK WE ARE ALL HUMAN -- IN FACT WE ARE ALL HUMAN AND WE'RE ALL INTERESTED IN COMMUNITY.

ESPECIALLY THESE DAYS WHERE PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR WHAT'S A COMMUNITY I CAN BE A PART OF.

WE'RE VERY MUCH A COMMUNITY.

WE HAVE CONGREGATION.

WE HAVE SERVICES.

WE HAVE SHOWS.

WE HAVE LIVE ENTERTAINMENT.

WE HAVE MOVIES.

TALK ABOUT THAT.

ALL THE THINGS YOU HAVE -- ACTUALLY I DIDN'T KNOW UNTIL WE WERE TALKING EARLIER.

IT STARTED -- WE'VE BEEN A MOVIE THEATER SINCE 1929.

AND IT WAS MAYBE FOUR OR FIVE YEARS AGO THAT ONE OF OUR NEIGHBORS OF HAMILTON WAS TALKING TO OUR EXECUTIVE PRODUCER SAYING THIS IS A CLASSIC MOVIE THEATER, WHY DON'T WE START IT AGAIN?

SO, HE HELPED US LAUNCH THE MOVIE SERIES SO EVERY MONTH OR SO WE HAVE A CLASSIC MOVIE.

AND WE HAVE THE LAST SINGLE SCREEN MAJOR MOVIE THEATER IN NEW YORK CITY.

HOW DO YOU KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING BEYOND THE PALACE AND WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON'T KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING?

PART OF OUR PHILOSOPHY -- IF YOU WALK INTO THE BUILDING, YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT.

THAT'S THE WAY THOMAS LAMB DESIGNED IT.

IT WAS BACK IN THE 1920s, PEOPLE WERE DEPRESSED, THERE WAS A LOT GOING ON.

YOU WALK INTO THIS BUILDING AND ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU'RE IN A PALACE AND IT'S MAGNIFICENT AND YOU FILL UP WITH THIS JOY.

YOU'RE COMING IN AND UP.

AND AS YOU EXPERIENCE WHETHER IT'S A SHOW, A SERVICE, A COMMUNITY ACTIVITY, BY THE TIME YOU GO OUT IN THE STREETS, SOMETHING'S DIFFERENT ABOUT YOU.

AND AS YOU GET THAT ALIVENESS, GET THAT AWARENESS THAT YOU'RE WONDERFUL AND OTHER PEOPLE THAT YOU MAY NOT NORMALLY ASSOCIATE WITH ARE WONDERFUL, IT GIVES YOU A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW.

SOUNDS VERY GOOD, HEATHER.

THANK YOU.

SOUNDS VERY GOOD.

I MIGHT DROP UP THERE.

PLEASE DO.

I INVITE YOU.

WE SOMETIMES CALL IT THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN NEW YORK BECAUSE PEOPLE DON'T KNOW IT'S THERE.

ONCE THEY COME HERE THEY GO I LIVED HERE MY WHOLE LIFE AND I NEVER KNEW IT WAS HERE.

IT'S EASY TO GET TO.

PEOPLE THINK IT'S HARD TO GET TO.

IT'S VERY EASY ON THE SUBWAY OR BUS.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

ACTITHANK YOU.

IT WAS A DELIGHT.

THANK YOU.

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