Patron Saint Troparion
Saint John Orthodox Church

The memory of the righteous is celebrated with songs of praise, but the Lord's testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner. Thou wast shown indeed to be the most honorable of the prophets, for in the waters thou didst baptize him who had been proclaimed. After suffering in behalf of the truth, thou didst proclaim even to those in Hades the God who appeared in the flesh, who takes away the sin of the world and grants us the Great Mercy.

Antiochian Archdiocese


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Welcome to the official website of St. John Orthodox Church of Levittown NY. We intend to make it an educational tool to all who seek to use it. This website can be used for information on our church. We are located on a spacious private property with our own parking lot on 80 Water Lane North in Levittown, NY. Our Sunday Divine Liturgy begins at 10:30 AM. All are welcome.

- Pastor

From a 2003 Christmas Article in Newsday

At an Eastern Orthodox church in Uniondale, whose sanctuary is adorned with gilded icons and fragrant with frankincense, singers chant in ancient Byzantine melodies often heard in Palestinian villages along the Jordan River. The lyrics of the chanting follow the Ancient Christian Liturgy, which with the approach of Christmas tells of the coming of the Christ child and his parents' flight to Egypt to spare Jesus from harm.

The singers are Palestinian Christians, many of whom see a parallel in their own wrenching departures from what is now Israel. But in the two decades since the church was formed, they have instead gathered in song, to comfort themselves with hymns remembered from their youth.

Najib Talhami Choir Director Now, with the addition of a new choir director from Amman, Jordan, they hope the singing at Uniondale's St. John the Baptist Antiochian Orthodox Church - Long Island's only Middle-Eastern Church - will only get better.
"It was a mishmash before, because no one had a voice, and everyone wanted to be a soloist," said Jimmy Khoury, an Israeli citizen from Haifa, whose grandfather had been a priest. "We decided this time we had to do it right."
The choir, which sings in Byzantine and without the accompaniment of musical instruments, is pinning its hopes on Najib Talhami of Levittown. The 55-year-old immigrant was the "protopsaltis" - or first chanter - at a Greek Catholic Church in Amman for three decades, before coming to the United States two years ago. A graying man with blue eyes and bushy eyebrows, Talhami grew up as a Palestinian refugee in Jordan, having fled from his birthplace in what is now Haifa, Israel, when war broke out in 1948.

He began singing in choirs when he was a 10-year-old pupil at a Roman Catholic school. At 20, he started singing in a Greek Catholic Church in Amman. Soon after he was named choir director, a position he held while working as a machine parts warehouse clerk until he came to Long Island.
Although Islam is the dominant religion in the Middle East, Christians make up as much as 10 percent of the population in Syria, Jordan and the West Bank, and as high as 30 percent in Lebanon, according to U.S. government figures. Most worship in churches that follow Eastern Orthodox traditions.
Talhami says Byzantine chanting has appeal among Christian Middle Easterners because its melodies adapt well to the melodious style of Arabic vocalism. "It's very close to how they sing in the Arabic world," Talhami said. "It's the voice alone that must carry the music; everything must be perfect."

Something approaching perfectionism would be just fine with Khoury, a member of the choir who was its leader when the church was formed about 20 years ago.

Khoury, a Westbury business owner who supplies uniforms to local police agencies, has been listening to Byzantine chanting all his life. His grandfather was an Orthodox priest in a village outside Haifa. His father was a church usher.
Although Khoury's teenage musical tastes leaned more toward the rock and roll of his Jewish friends, he learned the Byzantine rhythms. Khoury said that while the St. John choir is getting better under Talhami's tutelage, the church struggles to recruit enough men from Long Island's tiny Middle-Eastern population to carry the bass notes of Byzantine chant.

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