Remembering BSEC’s History – Patsy Tran Berkman

Remembering BSEC’s History – Patsy Tran Berkman

Patsy Tran Berkman is an alumna who is currently 86 years old, but who was, in her childhood, part of what is now our Ethics for Children program. We are lucky to have people like her, who have saved a special place in their hearts for us, even so many years later. Her son, Don Berkman, reached out to us to find out how to honor his mom on her birthday, by making a donation to our scholarships for our Ethics for Children Program, so another child, like she was then, would be able to attend our classes at no cost because of her donation. She has been kind enough to share a message with us and to prepare a special video for the kids. 

Her testimonial and videos are below:

As I enter my 86th year on this Earth, I look back on my days at Brooklyn Ethical with fondness. I began my education there in Kindergarten. I remember the big staircase that took me to my class. How I loved the teacher and all the activities. I stayed until 8th grade. I remember we took our graduation photos in the front of the building on the steps. I live the tenets Brooklyn Ethical Culture taught me every day.

Lessons Learned at Brooklyn Ethical Culture School:
My childhood name was Patsy Tran, (now Pat Berkman). I attended Brooklyn Ethical Culture School from Kindergarten to 8th Grade. Memories flood my mind as I write about this wonderful school:

  • The delicious hot lunches
  • Our mid-morning snacks of bread and butter sandwiches
  • Bringing cans of food for the less fortunate at Thanksgiving.
  • Our trips across the street to the Meadow (Prospect Park)
  • From Art Classes to Shop we stretched our abilities and imagination.
  • I learned so much. One of the most important lessons I learned was to stand by my principles and fight for my beliefs.

We would also have weekly talks by Dr. Henry Neuman, one of the founders of the school. The talks were rather dry and we all, I’m afraid, half-listened.
But the story doesn’t end there. It seems I did listen very well to Dr. Neuman. He spoke about equality of religion – all religions. How “Man” is to be respected and treated with kindness and fairness. And these principles of life that he eschewed and the ethical behavior he spoke about is how I have tried to live my life.
Brooklyn Ethical Culture School was more than a school that taught subjects, it was a school whose philosophy was that all individuals have inherent worth and dignity. And we have a responsibility to each other, to Society, and to the community.
Brooklyn Ethical Culture, the school that enriched all who attended.


2022 In Person Events at BSEC

Dear friends,
As we wrap up 2023, it is always fun to look at community moments. We had so many fascinating talks and moving community moments on Zoom, but we also had a lot of in-person events.
Below are a few highlights:

We got together to collect toiletries for the women’s shelter, write postcards to voters, create paintings together in a multigenerational arts day, support the Hope Dinner, watch platforms together on hybrid days, and also celebrate some of our oldest members, like AnneMarie, Warren, and Ellen.

Our Ethics for Children Program had classes in person every Sunday, and once a month did some amazing service projects, showing real ethics in action. Some of their service projects included making food to fill a community refrigerator, collecting books to be distributed to families for free, cleaning a beach, supporting an animal shelter, and creating gifts in support of our community for the Hope dinner, members, and the Prospect gamers.

And our members shared holiday pictures with us, because BSEC members also like to have fun!

Ethics for Children Service Project – Food Insecurity

Ethics for Children Service Project – Food Insecurity

In November the service project that our Ethics for Children program participated in was related to the issue of food insecurity. Our goal was to stock the Community Fridge located beside the Wyckoff Museum (5816 Clarendon Road, Canarsie). 

Students gathered at the BSEC Building to pack grab-and-go lunches. They decorated the bags, then packed them to overflowing. Their efforts yielded 30 nutritious lunches complete with beverages and homemade cookies! Thanks to additional donations collected by our EfC families as well as the larger BSEC community we were also able to fully stock the pantry shelves with nonperishables. We even made sure that the Little Free Library was full! 

BSEC has Hope

By Kim Brandon

Thank you BSEC members for contributing such delicious food and volunteering for the Hope Dinner’s Thanksgiving dinner bags.
This was the 29th Hope Thanksgiving dinner and the 35 dinner bags were overstuffed with wonderful cooked food and baked goods.  You name it we had it.
Thank you Rita Wilson for the tasty lemon cakes
Paul Heymont for dozens of delectable home-baked cookies and breads.
Fiona Boneham for baking us scrumptious muffins
Tom’s donation that covered two pork shoulders and a super large tray of collard greens
Vandra Thorburn for her giant pans of yummy vegetarian homemade herb stuffing and for being our official greeter for the event.
Kim Brandon for granny apple bread pudding for other desserts
We also want to thank all those who offered to contribute and things didn’t line up – but will be ready for the December bags.  Thank you!
Thank you all so much for making this dinner so abundant.
The Hope Dinner was created by Janine Dietz, Donna Roberts, and others almost 30 years ago to help create community for people with HIV/AIDS.  Janine will be speaking at our December 10th Platform about lessons learned in this crisis that may help us with the current pandemic.



A week ago, on October 28, 2022, we had an in-person screening of the movie “Not in My Neighborhood” by Kurt Otabenga Orderson, in co-sponsorship with Imani House.
Several of our members, Imani house friends as well as people from communities affected by the ill effects of gentrification, attended the screening and participated in the Q&A afterward.
Thank you to all who helped make this beautiful community event happen at our building.