Galveston’s First Baptist Church will host a First Responders Appreciation Luncheon from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on March 23 in their fellowship hall, 822 23rd St.

“We’re inviting all of our island responders including the port police, University of Texas Medical Branch police, Beach Patrol as well as fire department, emergency medical services, sheriff’s department and others to come,” said organizer Kathy Whatley. “Four years ago we realized that Galveston really did not have a day to show our first responders how much they are appreciated. This is now our fourth year to honor them. We want to serve those that put their lives on the line daily to protect and serve us. They can call ahead for delivery, pick it up or come and join us.”

In order to assure enough meals, the church requests reservations by phone, call 409-763-1840 or 409-457-9256.

There will be a concert of Shephardic Jewish music from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on March 31 at Clear Lake’s Congregation Shaar Hashalom, 16020 El Camino Real.

Sandy Ostrosky, who serves as an educational trustee here explains.

“Sephardi Jews are the Jews who are the descendants of those exiled from the Iberian Peninsula, and who spread from Spain and Portugal principally into the former Ottoman lands, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and to Morocco,” she said. “Women were significant movers in Jewish culture in the past, but they remained excluded from the text of Judaic studies. So, they found another avenue: musical performance, particularly singing, which was a field of action outside the domain of strict religion.

So, our congregation is excited to host Dr. Isabelle Ganz, an expert on this music, as well as an internationally acclaimed musician and composer.”

Ganz’s biography notes that she sings not only historic Hebrew music, but also opera, pop, jazz, folk and classical forms.

The community is invited. The concert is free.

For details, call 281-488-5861.

Update: The Pew Research Center is constantly calling out to poll Americans on matters of faith and culture. Their current effort? Seeking to find a self-definition of who is a Jew.

“Secularism has a long tradition in Jewish life in America, and most U.S. Jews seem to recognize this: 62 percent say being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry and culture, while just 15 percent say it is mainly a matter of religion,” Pew’s current report states. “Even among Jews by religion, more than half (55 percent) say being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry and culture, and two-thirds say it is not necessary to believe in God to be Jewish.”

Events for Faith Focus should be submitted at least two weeks in advance. Rick Cousins can be reached at

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