The annual event celebrated Brooklyn’s Arab-American residents’ rich cultural heritage and dual identity

The annual Arab-American Heritage Celebration at Brooklyn Borough Hall Photo: Shanell Culler-Sims for BK Reader

On Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams hosted the annual Arab-American Heritage Celebration at Brooklyn Borough Hall.

The event, held in partnership with the Arab-American Association of New York and the Arab-American Family Support Center, was part of the borough president’s “Embrace Your Hyphen” campaign and featured musical entertainment, a presentation of awards and cultural cuisine highlighting tastes from the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

“This event is a part of my ‘Embrace Your Hyphen’ initiative to celebrate both our national identity, as Americans, and our cultural identity, as descendants of the lands of our foremothers and forefathers,” said Borough President Adams.

The celebration began with the musical stylings of the youth ensemble from the Arab-American Family Support Center, followed by a welcome speech from its President and CEO Rawaa Nancy Albilal who took the opportunity to thank the borough president “for promoting a culture of community service.”

Adams then greeted the congregation and shared a metaphor around tolerance and the importance of pushing back on a climate of hate:

“If you were to take a frog and place it in a pot of boiling water, it would immediately jump out. But if you were to take that same frog, place it in cold water and turn the temperature up one degree at a time, it would stay there until it boils to death,” he said. “That’s where we are as Americans. We don’t realize the temperature of hate, the temperature against those who don’t look the same. One degree at a time, we’re turning up the temperature.”

The ceremony ended with the seven Arab-American honorees Tahanie A. Aboushi, Esq., Khader El-Yateem, Dr. Jihan Habashy, Liz Jebara, Ahmed Nasser, Simon Shamoun and Yemen Cafe being presented with citations for making a difference within their community. After the closing remarks, everyone filed into the lobby where there was food, wine, pastries, dancing and artwork on display.

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Shanell Culler-Sims

I am 19 years young. I am an intern at BK Reader through Bridge Street Development Corporation's MyBase program. I enjoy reading, writing, and singing. I'm a little sister and a big sister just trying...

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