Religion

Sarah Strent with her CTeen Female Leader of the Year award. Photo from The Chai Center

Sarah Strent, 17, a senior at Commack High School and a resident of Commack, was recently named CTeen Female Leader of the Year at the CTeen International Shabbaton, an annual event where thousands of Jewish teens gather in New York City. She was chosen by her peers from among 3,000 leaders worldwide.

CTeen, comprised of teens from 37 countries with 625 chapters around the world, is the fastest growing Jewish teen network. Its mission is to inspire and facilitate teens who want to give back to their community and environment, with an emphasis on positive character development. 

Strent is a leader with the West Suffolk Chapter of CTeen, which is based at The Chai Center in Dix Hills. “We are so immensely proud of Sarah,” Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum, Youth Director at The Chai Center said. “Sarah has helped us on a local level create programs like cooking for needy families, packing gifts for children in hospitals and creating a bowl-a-thon for special needs kids and children with cancer. She became a regional leader helping to create programs for over 50 chapters in the New York and New Jersey area. In the last 18 months, Strent was named an international leader serving on the board of CTeen.”

The CTeen Network provides a nurturing environment fusing fun, friendship, humanitarian outreach, mitzvah observance, and engaging Torah study. The CTeen Network believes in the power of youth and transforming the teen years into a time of purpose and self-discovery. The goal is to turn youth into leaders.

Setauket Presbyterian is among the houses of worship offering services online. File photo

While local religious leaders hold on to their faiths, they are still practicing an abundance of caution during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a March 16 email, the Diocese of Rockville Centre directed all parishes to suspend or postpone all Masses, meetings and nonessential activities until April 14. The suspension tentatively will end after Easter Sunday, which is April 12. The postponements also include confirmations and first communions, while funerals, weddings and baptisms will be permitted if necessary and must be limited to less than 50 people.

“We are encouraging everyone to pray from home and to use this opportunity to develop our personal connection with G-d.”

— Rabbi Motti Grossbaum

Worshippers will be able to pray at local Catholic churches at the discretion of the pastor. However, the number of people must be under 50, in accordance with the New York State mandate.

The diocese said in the email that the Catholic Faith Network will provide televised and online Masses, and alerted Catholics that local parishes may also offer live streaming.

Other faiths are following suit.

Village Chabad Center for Jewish Life & Learning in East Setauket last week canceled several events and programs, according to Rabbi Motti Grossbaum. While last week’s service incorporated distancing of worshippers with 6 feet of space in between each of them, the Chabad has now canceled services until further notice, Grossbaum said, “as health and well-being supersede everything else in Judaism.”

Grossbaum said Chabad’s preschool and Hebrew School have also been closed in line with the state’s two-week mandatory shutdown, and the center is offering online classes and videos for children and adults during the temporary closure.

“We are encouraging everyone to pray from home and to use this opportunity to develop our personal connection with G-d,” Grossbaum said in an email.

“We felt like the best thing was not to have people gather, especially since technology allows us to do something where we can still reach people.”

— The Rev. Kate Jones Calone

The Rev. Kate Jones Calone, interim pastor of Setauket Presbyterian Church, said services have been moved online. On March 15 she said it was just her, a liturgist and a couple of musicians live streaming from the sanctuary using Facebook Live.

She said the board, which consists of congregants, took into account recommendations from the town and health organizations.

“We felt like the best thing was not to have people gather, especially since technology allows us to do something where we can still reach people,” the reverend said.

Setauket Presbyterian is also using Zoom, a video conferencing platform, for church meetings and confirmation classes.

“This is something that I think we are all dealing in a very unprecedented way,” she said.

Jones Calone added the staff is reaching out to parishioners to see if there is any help that they may need as far as running errands and are hoping to identify other ways they can help the community at large.

“From a theological standpoint, we know that connections are there whether we’re together or physically apart,” she said.

The reverend likened following the current health guidelines as similar to loving our neighbors, and she said she hopes everyone will reach out to their loved ones and neighbors as best as they can.

“Not only are we taking care of ourselves but also social distancing and things like that help us make sure we’re loving our neighbor,” she said.

“I will miss worshiping with you all on the Sundays ahead, but hopefully with these measures we will all remain safe and able to continue worshiping together well into the future.”

— Pastor Chuck Van Houten

Stony Brook Community Church Pastor Chuck Van Houten emailed members March 14 saying all churches in the New York Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church were requested to close for at least two weeks.

Van Houten said in the email that SBCC would make worship services available on its website. The services would most likely be recorded the night before and only a few people would be on hand. The church also plans to set up a Zoom account to continue meetings over video conferencing.

“I will miss worshiping with you all on the Sundays ahead, but hopefully with these measures we will all remain safe and able to continue worshiping together well into the future,” Van Houten said.

Rabbi Aaron Benson of North Shore Jewish Center said in an email the synagogue will be operating remotely like other institutions in the area.

“Perhaps one of the more interesting developments has to do with prayer life,” Benson said. “As communal prayers require being in person, Jews nevertheless can continue to pray individually.  The opportunity then, to develop one’s personal spiritual practices and closeness to the Divine may be one of the only positive outcomes of our current state of affairs.”

When it comes to the current situation, Benson said it’s important to remember to have a thoughtful, grateful and kind attitude toward others.

“‘Receive every person with a smiling face.’ This piece of ancient rabbinic wisdom might seem out of place in a time of social distancing and quarantines, but I can’t imagine a more germane piece of advice,” Benson said. “If you’ve been in the stores lately, it can be a bit of a madhouse. If you’re stuck at home for days on end even with your family, if you’re dealing with poor internet connections for your remote meetings — patience and thoughtfulness can be at a premium. This is why in trying times like these remembering to have a thoughtful, grateful, kind and caring attitude toward others can make even more of a difference than an extra roll of toilet paper.  So whether it’s in person or just in your voice over the phone, be sure to have a smile.”

All houses of worships have asked that congregants check their websites and social media for live streaming of services as well as updates of when they will open again.

Stock photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It is already March, the temperatures are changing, the political rhetoric continues to intensify and the nation is now facing a new health crisis, the coronavirus. 

In the midst of all of this, Christian communities around the world have begun their season of Lent, a time of inner reflection and pro activity to prepare those who believe in Jesus for Easter.

The beginning of the Lenten season is marked by the spiritual tattoo of ashes in the sign of the cross on one’s forehead. At that service, Christians are encouraged to consider three different ways to prepare for Christ’s death and resurrection. 

The first recommendation is to find time in the midst of all of our chaos and craziness to pray, even if just a few moments, be consistent and do it every day during Lent. Not just the multiplication of words, or if you will, that give me God prayer but rather, use it as a time to listen to God speak to your heart.

The second recommendation is almsgiving; traditionally understood from a biblical perspective to give money to the poor. The focus of this recommendation is upon generosity of spirit — that the giving doesn’t have to be about money but it also can be about giving your time and your talent to others.

In simple terms, volunteer in a soup kitchen or a shelter for the homeless. Po’ Boy Brewery in Port Jefferson Station collected blessing bags for the poor and dropped them off at a local homeless shelter. Most of us reading this column could commit to bringing canned goods and other non-perishable foods to a local church or synagogue for the poor and needy on a regular basis -— that is genuine almsgiving. 

The third recommendation is fasting. For many Christians, it’s the yearly opportunity to go on a diet, give up all kinds of foods that we like and by the next day break every resolution we made.

Genuine fasting is supposed to be about changing an attitude or behavior that blocks us from fully loving and forgiving one another unconditionally. I don’t think it should be a practice only embraced by Christians during Lent but rather a practice all caring human beings should consider embracing all year long as we all try to make the world a better place.

This particular recommendation might be appropriate for all of our elected officials to consider. How about for 40 days, everyone who leads us fast from name-calling, from rude and disrespectful comments, from lying and misrepresenting the truth and from being judgmental?

As many of you know, I live with 62 people in the early stages of recovery hoping for wellness. At our Lenten service this year, I suggested in regards to fasting that they consider a couple of things: how about fasting from the F curse, how about fasting from blaming everyone and their brother for your addictive behavior, how about fasting from anger and the poor me pity party? 

It’s only been two weeks … but hope springs eternal!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

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Village Chabad Center for Jewish Life & Learning in East Setauket hosted a historic evening with Holocaust survivor Irving Roth  Feb. 23. The 91-year-old Roth, who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps, shared his story to a sold-out crowd.

“Over 300 people packed our ballroom at Village Chabad to hear Mr. Irving Roth. You could hear a pin drop in the room for over an hour as he shared his fascinating personal story of survival and courage. He left everyone inspired by his unshakable faith in God, his uncompromising hope in humanity, and most importantly, his calling to each of us to do our part to increase goodness and kindness in our world every day,” said Rabbi Motti Grossbaum.

The event also included a performance by violinist Wendy Fogel of the Sound Symphony Orchestra and was followed by a book signing of Roth and his son Edward’s novel, “Bondi’s Brother: A Story of Love, Loss, Betrayal and Liberation.”

Local children and their family members had some fun with plastic building blocks while learning about one of the oldest cities in the world.

Using 70,000 LEGO pieces on a 20-by-20-foot mat, members of Village Chabad in East Setauket created a replica of the Old City of Jerusalem Feb. 3. The LEGO model included many points of interest, such as the gate entrances to the city, the Tower of David, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall and more.

Rabbi Shalom Ber Cohen, from Village Chabad, said the goal of the program was for those involved to leave the event with an admiration for the holy city.

Village Chabad brought in architect Stephen Schwartz of New Jersey-based Building Blocks Workshops to lead the children, parents and grandparents in constructing the model. On the mat were lines to help guide the building efforts. While some sat on the mat constructing walls and towers, others on the sidelines started putting together the buildings, grabbing LEGO pieces from bins.

During the program, Schwartz was constantly engaged with the children and adults, directing them to the proper location if they went astray.

Cohen said Village Chabad had heard about Schwartz’s work from different schools and institutions. The architect has also offered several programs that focus on the historical buildings in Stony Brook for The Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

Schwartz said he has been conducting the LEGO projects for 25 years. It began when his daughter, an elementary school teacher in the Bronx, asked him to show her second-graders how a city is designed.

“When I saw that with LEGO you could teach second-graders about zoning, and they understood it, I saw that this was an amazing teaching tool,” he said.

Schwartz said in the past he has worked with LEGO pieces for different Jewish history programs, including Jerusalem, Masada, the Warsaw Ghetto and the world’s tallest LEGO menorah.

The architect said the projects are usually completed in two hours due to working around a school’s schedule. The Village Chabad program ran from 4:30 to around 6:30. Schwartz said after every program he aims for a 15-minute educational tour.

“I am an architect, so everything is exactly to scale,” Schwartz said. “The program gives people a ‘visual image’ of the shape and location of all the important elements in and around Jerusalem. It is a much more dynamic way to teach than just looking in a book or on a screen.”

Smithtown resident Gail Declue said she had no idea what to expect when she arrived for the build.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “The kids are really involved, and they are going to learn a lot about what Jerusalem looks like without even going.”

Elina Rukhlin, also of Smithtown, said her 10-year-old son was among the children building with LEGO pieces, and the family had traveled to Israel last year.

“My son is actually saying I remember we went to the Tower of David light show,” she said. “So, it’s really cool to be able to look back on our experience and then to see this, because we were actually there.”

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Rabbi Aaron Benson of the North Shore Jewish Center hosts a ceremony condemning recent anti-Semitic violence. Photo by Les Goldschmidt

Numerous acts of anti-Semitism in the past week have left Jewish community leaders concerned for the welfare of its congregates during one of the most joyous celebrations of the Jewish calendar.

Members of the North Shore Jewish Center host a ceremony condemning recent anti-Semitic violence. Photo by Les Goldschmidt

On Saturday, a man broke into a rabbi’s home in the town of Monsey in Rockland County where he assaulted the rabbi and those assembled there. Police said the assailant, 37-year-old Grafton Thomas, allegedly stabbed five people gathered in the rabbi’s home, including the religious leader’s son. According to the Washington Post, one of those attacked remains in critical condition. Thomas has plead not guilty.

The North Shore Jewish Center in Port Jefferson Station gathered together Sunday, Dec. 29 with members of the faith and local officials from the surrounding area to show strength in the face of the violence, lighting candles on a menorah in light of the attacks. Rabbi Aaron Benson, of the Jewish Center, spoke of the need for unity and forward thinking as they looked to “come to grips” with recent anti-Semitic attacks.

The rabbi said such ceremonies are both necessary and helpful for the Jewish community, finding a way to respond to such unnecessary and unprovoked violence. While he said he has seen consistent acts of anti-Semitism over the past several years, seeing several acts of hate over the course of Hanukkah was something new and distressing.

“It was a way to express hope — that we will prevail over violence and hate,” he said. “People of the Jewish faith has faced such attacks and harassment for centuries, but we have always been able to survive, to stay strong.”

Rabbi Aaron Benson of the North Shore Jewish Center hosts a ceremony condemning recent anti-Semitic violence. Photo by Les Goldschmidt

Other recent events during the days of Hanukkah have made Jewish leaders concerned. On Dec. 23 a man allegedly shouted anti-Semitic slurs while assaulting a woman in Manhattan. On Dec. 26, another Brooklyn woman was harassed by a woman shouting other slurs towards her and her son. The next day, a woman slapped three Orthodox Jewish women in the face in Crown Heights, which is known for its Orthodox Jewish population.

Benson said around 75 people came to the ceremony Sunday night, and while many of them were from his congregation, more came from surrounding communities. Fellow clergy from neighboring churches such as the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook also came to show support.

Rev. Linda Anderson of the Unitarian fellowship said such shows of support from non-Jews are important so that all know that no one faith is standing alone in the face of violence. Earlier this year, after an attack on mosques in New Zealand, she and other members of the local Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association and Building Bridges in Brookhaven gathered at a mosque in Selden, forming a ring around the building to show support. Anderson is the president of the interfaith group.

“The idea that we have to keep doing this is discouraging,” she said, lamenting about the seemingly constant violent attacks on minority faiths around the world. “But we will keep it up, we will stand for fellow faiths in our community.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) attended the ceremony and called it a “beautiful display of community unity.”

She said that after numerous incidents of anti-Semitism across the country, local centers have looked to review their own policies in protecting their congregation.

In terms of Suffolk County Police, she called them “proactive” in looking to stop such incidents happening locally.

Members of the North Shore Jewish Center host a ceremony condemning recent anti-Semitic violence. Photo by Les Goldschmidt

SCPD said in a statement they have stepped up patrols at and around synagogues and Jewish community centers.

Benson said he has found that both the SCPD and sheriff’s departments have been very proactive in their efforts to confront anti-Semitism. He said the local precinct often reaches out to his synagogue and offered added protection for the location after the violent attack Sunday.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) also condemned the attacks.
“Hanukkah 2019 in New York will be remembered for a sick amount of violent anti-Semitic attacks in and around New York City. From colleges to Congress to Hanukkah parties and synagogues, anti-Semitism is on the rise and on full display in many ugly forms,” he said in a statement. “The violent anti-Semitic attacks in and around NYC are being caused by raw hate, feckless leadership, a culture of acceptance, education and promotion of anti-Semitism, and lowering quality of life. All elected and community leaders need to step up to confront and crush this threat.”

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The Island Christian Church in Port Jefferson will soon be officially called Harborview Christian Church. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Island Christian Church in Port Jefferson will soon be under a new name, Harborview Christian Church.

The well-known church at the corner of East Main and Prospect streets hung a banner from its porch declaring its name change. Rev. Pete Jansson said the church is splitting off as a branch of Island Christian, with the other, much larger site in Northport. 

“It’s a step of faith,” the reverend said. 

He said when the two branches of the church went up, it was said that if the two became too distinct they would have to look into separation. The Northport branch is a much larger campus and congregation, with many more church programs for multiple age groups and other, larger events. The smaller church in Port Jeff, he said, had become distinct in both its activities and number of churchgoers.

The church hung the banner off its porch to get residents used to the name before becoming a fully separate church starting the first Sunday of January 2020. 

Splitting off also has some disadvantages, namely the church having to fully pay its own bills, meaning more dependence on the donations of churchgoers instead of having the backing of the larger branch. 

“We’re dependent on paying our own bills,” Jansson said. “But we feel God is moving us in that direction.”

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Ashely McFaul-Erwin is the new community outreach pastor for the Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo provided by Ashley McFaul-Erwin

In its quest to connect more closely with the community, the Setauket Presbyterian Church has created a new position: community outreach pastor. 

Taking on the new role is Ashley McFaul-Erwin, a native of Northern Ireland who recently pastored in Nashville. Arriving this summer with her wife Erica, McFaul-Erwin has been busy working and getting to know the Three Village area.

Interim Pastor Kate Jones-Calone said creating the new position was part of the congregation’s mission planning study conducted a couple of years ago. What came out of that study was the goal to create a deeper connection with the community as well as serve it.

Part of McFaul-Erwin’s responsibility will be heading up the Open Door Exchange, the church’s outreach program in Port Jefferson created to collect gently used furniture to distribute to those in need. She also has been organizing programming to encourage conversations about gun violence in America and what to do about it.

McFaul-Erwin, a a native of Northern Ireland, has joined the Setauket church as community outreach pastor. Photo provided by Ashley McFaul-Erwin.

Jones-Calone said a search committee was formed to find candidates, and when they found McFaul-Erwin, they were thrilled. The interim pastor describes her new co-worker as a warm, open and authentic person.

“We knew pretty quickly that she was someone who brings not only significant experience working with community-based organizations but also this wonderful ability to connect with people which will be so important with her work within the congregation and for the ways she helps the congregation connect with the community around us,” Jones-Calone said.

McFaul-Erwin has an array of experience including work with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in a low-income area of Belfast. In 2011, she traveled to Nashville, where she was ordained seven years later. In addition to pastoring services, she has worked with former gang members and women battling addiction in various outreach programs. 

The community outreach pastor said when learning about the congregation she was impressed with the community connection they have already established, especially with Open Door Exchange, which celebrates its fifth anniversary next year.

“I’m really impressed,” she said. “It feels like a church that isn’t just content to stay within four walls. They’re already out there doing some of the work.”

The pastor said the congregation is looking to see how they can serve those who have fallen through the cracks when it comes to receiving help, and she is currently trying to identify those needs.

“I feel like I’m doing a lot of listening right now with the people in the church and the community to find out what are some of the needs that folks need to have met,” McFaul-Erwin said.

“This role kind of felt like it was bringing my two worlds together in one position,” McFaul-Erwin said. 

Recently, residents were welcomed to the church to watch a documentary on gun violence and an upcoming event will feature a speaker discussing the importance of writing letters to elected officials about the issue. Pointing to recent mass shootings motivated by hate, the pastor said the issue is not just about access to guns but also how people care and think about each other, and she’s passionate about those with different views coming together and having conversations.

The pastor said when she first moved to the States, she was surprised how it was easier to access guns here than in her birth country, especially in Tennessee where many openly carry firearms. When it comes to the gun debate, the outreach pastor said she can sympathize due to past turmoil in Northern Ireland. She said being born in 1987, she only remembers the tail end of the Troubles, a violent ethno-nationalist conflict in her country, but she saw how long it took for both sides to heal.

“We all have to do the work of gun control but also the work of healing different communities and bringing folks together,” she said. “Nothing changed in Northern Ireland until people on different sides started to talk to each other.”

McFaul-Erwin is ready for her new role, and she said her strengths include bringing people together and listening to them.

“I kind of just see people for who they are and don’t let whatever labels around them be a barrier in that relationship,” she said.

 

The use of Narcan is demonstrated on a dummy during a training class. File photo by Elana Glowatz

At Stony Brook University Renaissance School of Medicine, a new generation of doctors and dentists are involved in a novel approach to managing the opioid epidemic. The training includes instruction from reformed narcotic users, who act as teachers.

A 25-year-old woman recently explained to the first-year students how she became addicted to opioids at the age of 15, when a friend came over with Vicodin prescribed by a dentist after a tooth extraction.

Addiction, she said, is like having a deep itch inside that desperately needs to be scratched.

“There was nothing that could stand between me and getting high,” said the young woman, who wants to remain anonymous. “Most of the time it was my only goal for the day. At $40 a pill, I quickly switched to heroin which costs $10.” 

The university’s Assistant Dean for Clinical Education Dr. Lisa Strano-Paul, who helped coordinate the session, said that “patients as teachers” is widely practiced in medical education. This is the first year reformed narcotic users are participating in the program.

“People’s stories will stick with these medical students for the rest of their lives,” she said. “Seeing such an articulate woman describe her experiences was impactful.”

Gerard Fischer, a doctor of dental surgery candidate from St. James, took part in the patient-as-teacher session on narcotics.

“You learn empathy, a quality people want to see in someone practicing medicine,“ Fischer said. “People don’t choose to become addicted to narcotics. So, you want to understand.”

After working in dental offices over the last several years, he’s noticed that habits for prescribing painkillers are changing.

“Dental pain is notoriously uncomfortable because it’s in your face and head,” he said. “No one wants a patient to suffer.” Pain management, though, requires walking a fine line, he added, saying, “Patient awareness is increasing, so many of them now prefer to take ibuprofen and acetaminophen rather than a prescription narcotic, which could be a reasonable approach.”

Hearing the young woman tell her story, he said, will undoubtedly influence his decision-making when he becomes a practicing dentist. 

An estimated 180 medical and dental students attended the training last month. Overall, Strano-Paul said she’s getting positive feedback from the medical students about the session. 

The woman who overcame addiction and shared her insights with the medical professionals, also found the experience rewarding. 

We respect her request to remain anonymous and are grateful that she has decided to share her story with TBR News Media. For the rest of this article, we shall refer to her as “Claire.” 

Faith, hope and charity

“I told the doctors that recovery has nothing to do with science,” Claire said. “They just looked at me.”

Claire was addicted to drugs and alcohol for seven years and went to rehab 10 times over the course of five years. 

“I did some crazy things, I jumped out of a car while it was moving,” Claire said, shaking her head in profound disbelief.

She leapt from the vehicle, she said, the moment she learned that her family was on their way to a rehab facility. Fortunately, she was unharmed and has now been off pain pills and drugs for close to six years. She no longer drinks alcohol.

“Yes, it is possible to recover from addiction,” Claire said. 

People with addiction issues feel empty inside, Claire explained, while gently planting her fist in her sternum. She said that once her counselor convinced her to pray for help and guidance, she was able to recover.

“Somehow praying opens you up,” she said. 

Claire was raised Catholic and attended Catholic high school but says that she’s not a religious person. 

“I said to my counselor, “How do I pray, if I don’t believe or know if there’s a God?” 

She came to terms with her spirituality by appreciating the awe of nature. She now prays regularly. Recovery, she said, is miraculous.

Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step regimen, first published in 1939 in the post-Depression era, outlines coping strategies for better managing life. Claire swears by the “big book,” as it’s commonly called. She carefully read the first 165 pages with a counselor and has highlighted passages that taught her how to overcome addictions to opioids and alcohol. Being honest, foregoing selfishness, praying regularly and finding ways to help others have become reliable sources of her strength.

Spirituality is the common thread Claire finds among the many people she now knows who have recovered from addiction.

The traditional methods of Alcohol Anonymous are helping people overcome addiction to opioids.

Medication-assisted therapy

Personally, Claire recommends abstinence over treating addiction medically with prescription drugs such as buprenorphine. The drug, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration since 2002, is a slow-release opioid that suppresses symptoms of withdrawal. When combined with behavior therapy, the federal government recommends it as treatment for addiction. Medication alone, though, is not viewed as sufficient. The ultimate goal of medication-assisted therapy, as described on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website on the topic, is a holistic approach to full recovery, which includes the ability to live a self-directed life.

“Medication-assisted therapy should not be discounted,” Strano-Paul said. “It improves the outcome and enables people to hold jobs and addresses criminal behavior tendencies.”

While the assistant dean is not involved with that aspect of the curriculum, the topic is covered somewhat in the clerkship phase of medical education during sessions on pain management and when medical students are involved in more advanced work in the medical training, she said. 

The field, though, is specialized.

The federal government requires additional certification before a medical practitioner can prescribe buprenorphine. Once certified, doctors and their medical offices are further restricted to initially prescribe the medicine to only 30 patients annually. Critics say no other medications have government-mandated patient limits on lifesaving treatment. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, considers the therapy to be “misunderstood” and “greatly underused.” 

In New York state, 111,391 medical practitioners are registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe opioids and narcotics. Only 6,908 New York practitioners to date are permitted to prescribe opioids for addiction treatment as at Aug. 31.

Strano-Paul for instance, pointed out that she can prescribe opioids, but is prohibited from prescribing the opioid-based drug used for addiction therapy. 

The narcotics education program is still evolving, Strano-Paul said. 

New medical student training now also includes certification for Narcan, the nasal spray antidote that revives opioid overdose victims. 

“It saves lives,” Strano-Paul said. 

In Suffolk County in 2017, 424 people died from an opioid overdose, which was 41 percent higher than the state average, according to a study titled “The Staggering Cost of Long Island’s Opioid Crisis.” The county is aware of 238 potentially lifesaving overdose reversals as of June 30 attributed to Narcan this year alone. Since 2012, Narcan has helped to save the lives of 3,864 people in the county. 

As for Claire, now a mother, she delivered her children through C-section. In the hospital, she was offered prescription opioids for pain. 

“No one will ever see me again, if you give me those pills,” she said.                

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First United Methodist Church in Port Jefferson. Photo by Kyle Barr

A new pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Port Jefferson will be taking over the reins of the venerable church starting July 1.

The New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church appointed Pastor Steve Chu as pastor, replacing Pastor Sandra J. Moore who has served the local church for three years. Pastor Chu currently serves as the Youth and English Ministry Pastor at Plainview UMC and prior to this appointment held positions in Herndon and Arlington, Virginia. He holds a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York. 

The First United Methodist Church on Main Street, Port Jefferson has a long history in the community. The current building was erected in 1893 by Loper Brothers while the original chapel had been established on Thompson Street. The parsonage next door was purchased in 1930 and is still used today as a pastoral home. In 1961, the former New York Telephone Company brick building was purchased to hold Sunday school classes and now a day care program. The church is committed to Thanksgiving donations for needy families, sharing with patients at nursing homes, community concerts, a summer chicken barbecue and Christmas fair/cookie walk during the Charles Dickens
Festival weekend. 

On July 14, a welcome barbecue is being planned to follow the church service. People are asked to come and meet the new pastor.