Klezmer Swing Orchestra offers klezmer music for Jewish wedding and Bar Mitzvah

L’orchestre pour mariage juif Amsellem Swing Klezmer Orchestra joue des horot (Mazel Tov, Siman Tov…) pour animer cocktail de mariage, de Bar Mitzvah, cérémonie, Houppa et réceptions.
Les plus belles horas jouées par notre orchestre.

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How Does Jewish Music Figure Into The Sustenance Of Jewish Identity? – Jewish Week

Scrrttch. That was a dreaded sound in my Long Island home. It meant that the phonograph needle had dragged sideways across a record rather than staying in its neat concentric groove, permanently defiling the music that was almost sacred in my secular Jewish household. For it was through the magic of LPs that I was introduced to the original cast recordings of Leonard Bernsteins West Side Story, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewes My Fair Lady, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammersteins Oklahoma! and many other classic musicals by Jewish composers and lyricists.

How does Jewish music figure into the sustenance of Jewish identity? Ive been pondering this question since last month, when, during a trip to Warsaw, I caught a traveling exhibition on Jewish music at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Jukebox/Jewkbox! A Jewish Century on Shellac and Vinyl, chronicles what the museums director, Darius Stola, has called the vinyl Noahs Ark that has preserved the musical history of 20th-century Jews, beginning in 1904 with the founding of the first record label in Poland, Syrena Record.

Ted Merwin

At a time when more than a third of Warsaws population was Jewish, Syrenas founder, Julius Feigenbaum, sold recordings of Yiddish operettas, cantorial music, synagogue choirs, cabaret singers, comedy routines, film scores and tangos by Jewish composers. Indeed, Syrena Songs, a 2016 BBC Radio 4 program about the pioneering company, explains how a diverse group of Jewish musicians created Warsaws thriving pre-WWII entertainment culture, which the podcast suggests was more vibrant even than New Yorks.

Jukebox/Jewkbox, curated by Hanno Loewy, the director of the Jewish Museum Hohenems in Austria, where the exhibit originated, has traveled for two years throughout Europe. It displays a plethora of album covers, along with music disks, gramophone machines and sheet music. Viewing these objects and listening to samples of the music at the listening stations installed in the museum, I recalled a similar exhibit that I caught in 2009 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, Jews and Vinyl, that was curated by Roger Bennett and Josh Kun. (The same exhibit came a couple of years later to the Yeshiva University Museum in New York.)

In 2014, more than nine million vinyl records were sold in the U.S., a 260 percent increase in five years, as listeners gravitated to its perceived warmer and more realistic sound, as compared to digital formats.

For Jews and Vinyl, Bennett and Kun scavenged LPs from second-hand record stories, flea markets, thrift shops and synagogue rummage sales. They were searching not just for the music itself, but for the colorful, vibrant album covers that adorned the recordings of Yiddish lullabies, black-Jewish and Latino/a-Jewish pop songs, Catskills mambo wizards, Barbra Streisand or Neil Diamond chart-toppers and Israeli folk songs.

Bennett and Kun reprinted hundreds of these covers in their 2008 book, And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost, which also contains striking essays, such as Me Llamo Steinberg: The Jewish Latin Craze. (Some of the covers were, however, not quite what they purported to be; the bucolic image on one collection of Theodore Bikels Israeli folk tunes was shot in a field in New Jersey, with a non-Jewish model masquerading as an Israeli singer.)

Then, like Henry Sapoznik, the founder of the Yiddish Radio Project who has reissued more than 300 recordings of Yiddish culture from the aluminum disks that he rescued from storerooms and dumpsters, Bennett and Kun vowed to keep the music alive. They launched their own record label, the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation (named after Jewish musicologist Abraham Zevi Idelsohn), to prevent unusual types of Jewish music from fading into oblivion. Their crusade has coincided with a surprising overall revival of vinyl; in 2014, more than nine million vinyl records were sold in the U.S., a 260 percent increase in five years, as listeners gravitated to its perceived warmer and more realistic sound, as compared to digital formats.

Collecting and reissuing Jewish music may not be on quite the same level as preserving the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, as the majority of the Jewish community in America has grown more secular, it may be just as significant, as 35 percent of those surveyed in the 2015 Boston Jewish Community Survey reported listening to Jewish or Israeli music, whether live or recorded. (However, the survey found, only 18 percent of intermarried Jews in the Boston area listen to Jewish music, while 48 percent of inmarried Jews do.)

For Kun, who teaches communication at the Annenberg School of the University of Southern California, amassing a treasure trove of Jewish LPs has enabled him to define his identity as a Jew. As he remarked in a 2009 talk at the Spertus Institute in Chicago, reanimating Jewish music is a way of not collecting things, but collecting ourselves, building ourselves from scratch.

Ted Merwin teaches religion and Judaic studies at Dickinson College. He writes about theater for the paper.

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Grande Prairie Singers preparing for celebration of Jewish music … – The Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle

The Grande Prairie Singers will close the gala 40th anniversary season with a final concert at 3 p.m. May 21 at St. Lawrence OToole Church 4101 St. Lawrence Ave., Matteson.

The concert, From Moses to Max: Jewish Music from Sinai to the Carnegie Deli, will focus on Salomone Rossi and Max Janowski, two composers who revolutionized Jewish music.

In 1622, Rossi composed his Song of Solomon, which discarded the traditional themes of the synagogue service for new music written in the Baroque tradition.

The Grande Prairie Singers was founded in 1977 and is led by Artistic Director Jo Rodenburg. The more than 40 musicians from the South Suburbs and northwest Indiana, have drawn praise for their excellence. Their recent engagement with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra was lauded by the IPOs guest conductor Francesco Milioto as a strong, dedicated and exceptionally talented musical group.

In addition to three scheduled concerts during the 2016-2017 season, the Grande Prairie Singers were among the featured performers at a sold-out concert with the Southwest Symphony Orchestra in March.

When we drew up our concert schedule for this season we did not know the world-famous Carnegie Deli in New York would close its doors at the end of last year, said Grande Prairie Singers Administrator Jerry Shnay. In a sense, we hope, as the restaurant fed its patrons with mountainous sandwiches for nearly 100 years, the Grande Prairie Singers will offer this concert of glorious music as food for the soul.

Tickets for the concert are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and $10 for students with an ID. Tickets may be ordered by phone at 708-481-8684 or by mail at Grande Prairie Choral Arts, 266 Somonauk, Park Forest, IL. 60466, or online atwww.grandeprairiechoral.org.

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Here’s to you, Paul Simon: Skirball showcases his ‘Words & Music … – Jewish Journal

In 1964, a Jewish music executive, Goddard Lieberson, then the president of Columbia Records, told his newest act, a harmonizing duo inspired by the Everly Brothers, to use their ethnic names.

Goodbye, Tom and Jerry. Hello, Simon and Garfunkel.

[Paul] Simon didnt think people were going to buy folk songs sung by two middle-class Jewish men, but he embraced it, said Erin Clancey, curator of Paul Simon: Words & Music, the Skirball Cultural Centers latest exhibition.

Words & Music, which runs through Sept. 3, presents this curious piece of music industry trivia and much more, in a retrospective of his creativity that spans more than 16 albums from Simons early work with Art Garfunkel to his 2016 solo album, Stranger to Stranger.

Paul Simon backstage at Lincoln Center in New York in 1967. Photo by Don Hunstein, courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment.

The exhibit is on loan from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Its chronological sections display more than 150 items scratchpad notes, awards, the first jacket he wore on American Bandstand and his first acoustic guitar, a 13th birthday gift from his father, Louis, a professional bass player.

Additional items from the early years include correspondence between Simon and Garfunkel when Simon was away at summer camp that shows the two were friends before they were collaborators. Send my love to Marilyn and any other nice lookin girls up there, Simon wrote in one letter. It also features the duos first recording contract with Columbia, from 1957.

One section of the exhibit, Simon and Garfunkel, features nearly 35 photographs, sheet music and handwritten lyrics encapsulating the duos brief, impactful six years together when they recorded such baby boomer hits as Mrs. Robinson, Homeward Bound and America.

Clancey recalled a Skirball staffer looking at a photo of Simon and saying, Hmm, that looks like my dad.

Thats kind of who were pitching this to dads, she said. I guess that could be described as the core audience for this, people for whom this music is the soundtrack to their youth, the soundtrack to their young adulthood.

The treasures include a photo of Simon and Garfunkel seated on the floor of a CBS studio while recording tracks for their debut album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., which sold poorly and prompted the duo to disband. Simon moved to England and immersed himself in the folk music scene. Included in the exhibition is a diary of his performances in the U.K.

Without either of them knowing it at the time, Tom Wilson, a music producer who had worked with Tom and Jerry, provided their big breakthrough. Responding to the growing popularity of folk-rock, Wilson overdubbed electric instruments onto The Sound of Silence, which Simon had written in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The record topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Notified of his hit record, Simon returned to the United States. From 1966 to 1970, he and Garfunkel recorded blockbuster albums, including Sounds of Silence, Bookends and their last together, Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Included are handwritten lyrics of The Boxer, from Bridge Over Troubled Water, that Simon scribbled onto an inflight airline magazine.

The examination of Simons versatile solo career shows how he has stayed relevant even as popular music has evolved. Mother and Child Reunion helped introduce Western audiences to reggae music; Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard showcased his love of language; and Still Crazy After All These Years is Simon the songwriter at what he has called his peak.

Still, creative frustration hit him in the mid-1980s before a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, in pursuit of township sounds hed heard on a cassette tape, led to a career rejuvenating fusion of South African and American music on his 1986 landmark record, Graceland.

Handwritten lyrics from the title track and from Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, the Album of the Year Grammy Award for Graceland, and annotated sheet music highlight the exhibitions section on Graceland. On May 12, Skirball is screening Under African Skies, a 2012 documentary examining Simons bold decision to record music in South Africa in the 1980s, when the country was still under apartheid rule. In the documentary, Simon talks about how perhaps he didnt understand the fullness of the situation, the crisis of South Africa, Clancey said.

One section of the exhibition, Paul Simon in Popular Culture, is unique to the Skirball. Included is a movie poster from The Graduate, which featured the song, Mrs. Robinson, originally Mrs. Roosevelt until Simon changed the lyric to match a character in the film at director Mike Nichols request.

Weve included sections that deal specifically with Pauls popularity, his icon status, his place in our cultural consciousness, which I think was not so much the focus of the rock halls exhibition, Clancey said. Theyre focused on music, of course, and the various instruments and songs, lyrics, etc. Were interested in Paul as a cultural figure, first, and as a musician, second.

Further distinguishing the Skirball exhibition is an interactive music lab Skirball developed in partnership with Roland Corp., an electronic music equipment manufacturer and distributor. It enables people to sing and jam with Simon.

They have a drum circle where you can listen to songs that have a very distinctive drumbeat like, 50 Ways [to Leave Your Lover]. You can harmonize along with Simon and Garfunkel to Mrs. Robinson. I expect that to be a very, very popular attraction, Clancey said.

Skirball and Roland previously partnered in 2008 for the Skirball exhibition Bob Dylans American Journey, 1956-1966.

Meanwhile, listening stations provide an opportunity to hear nearly 30 songs.

Simon, 75, was born in Newark, N.J., on Oct. 13, 1941. His parents were Hungarian Jews who immigrated to the U.S. at the beginning of World War II. Simon grew up in Queens, N.Y., which is where he met Garfunkel. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist and with Simon and Garfunkel. Twice previously married, including to the actress Carrie Fisher, he currently is married to folk singer Edie Brickell.

The rock hall displayed the Simon exhibition in 2015. Simon did not see it but nevertheless provided two of the museums officials, Karen Herman and Craig Inciardi, with an oral history, of his life story, Herman said. We had a guitar next to him and said, If you feel like it, go ahead and play, which he did a few times. We wanted to get at what makes Paul Simon Paul Simon.

He was gracious with his story. He was gracious with his archives.

The exhibition at the Skirball also suggests a musicians concern for social justice is key to relevancy.

Beyond just the fact of his Jewish identity and his pop cultural icon status, hes also a person who fits very well with our mission, which is a sort of a dual mission of celebrating influential cultural figures but also people who have something to say with regard to social justice, Clancey said. His work, his lyrics, have often reflected the frustrations of the people. They have been very pointed at times with regard to social justice. We felt that was a good match.

Paul Simon: Words & Music runs through Sept. 3 at the Skirball Cultural Center. For more information, go to skirball.org.

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At Metuchen concert, everyone will sing – New Jersey Jewish News

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Noah Aronson is the featured musician in this years Susy Schwartz Memorial Scholarship Fund benefit concert at Congregation Neve Shalom.Photos courtesy Noah Aronson.

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by Alan Richman NJJN Contributing Writer

April 27, 2017

If you can breathe, you can sing, said Noah Aronson, one of the hottest personalities on the Jewish music scene. Every one of his performances offers opportunities for communal singing, the 33-year-old singer/songwriter told NJJN in a phone interview.

I feel it is my job to get people singing, he said. Singing stirs the spirit and allows you to connect with parts of yourself that cannot be reached by speaking alone. My goal is to tap into the power of collective energy and elevate the moment.

The community will see this force in action on Sunday, April 30, when Aronson appears as featured artist at Congregation Neve Shaloms annual Susy Schwartz Memorial Concert. The program honors the memory of a former congregant who died in 1990 in her early 40s. Shes described by those who knew her as upbeat and passionate about both music and Israel; the yearly concert, now in its 27th year, supports Neve Shaloms Passport to Israel program which helps fund educational travel to Israel for the Metuchen synagogues students.

The concert series has made it possible for well over 125 youngsters to make the trip, said event chair Rena Kallman. At the same time, it has hosted a whos who of Jewish musical artists, including: the late Debbie Friedman (the only one to appear twice), Craig Taubman, Doug Cotler, Sam Glaser, Six13, David Broza, Kol BSeder, Josh Nelson, and Neshama Carlebach.

Aronson, son of Cantor Ted Aronson, who served for 45 years at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, sees himself as a hybrid performer, composer, teacher, and spiritual leader all wrapped up in a single body. I dont think Id be happy if I had to confine myself to just one of those roles, he said. I never perform a concert without infusing some teaching, nor do I do a concert without allowing moments of prayer and reflection.

Aronson is chair of the faculty of Hava Nashira, an annual song-leading and music workshop sponsored by the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute, an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Aronson said he believes strongly that music should be an effective bridge between people of different cultures.

I grew up in an atypical Jewish home, he said. My fathers work was in South Orange, but my mother was born and raised in Haiti, where her family settled after leaving Egypt and Syria. Her roots are Sephardic Orthodox and my father is an Ashkenazi Reform cantor. So, of course, they sent me to a Solomon Schechter Day School, which was affiliated with the Conservative movement. I may be the only Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Ashke-Sephardic, Haitian-American musician in the world!

In Metuchen, Aronson will be accompanied by a band of Israeli musicians, all of whom were his classmates at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The concert also will feature performances by students from Neve Shaloms Hebrew School, as well as from other Hebrew schools in central New Jersey.

Cantor Sheldon Levin of Neve Shalom who will conduct these selections, said the students presence this year is especially relevant, since Neve Shaloms fourth graders started using a new interactive, video-based curriculum Hebrew in Harmony in which Aronson hosts each section. Were fortunate to be able to present as fine a talent as Noah, one who projects a great sense of love and respect for the text, Levin said.

Created by Eliana Light, and distributed by Behrman House, the nations largest distributor of Jewish educational materials, the curriculum is intended to connect students to prayer through music.

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The 9 Most Outrageous Bar Mitzvah Cakes – Forward

Nothing is more emblematic of a partys theme than its cake. At some bar and bat mitzvahs, they outdo even the most extravagant wedding cake with over-the-top embellishments. The awesome, outrageous bar mitzvah cakes we found on Pinterest exemplify the creativity, theatricality and attention to minute detail that goes into them. Whether youre planning a bar/bat mitzvah or just want to be amazed, feast your eyes on the incredible cakes below.

Got a sweet-tooth? This insane tower (right) made of thousands of packaged chocolates and other candy is the ultimate ode to sweets.

For the spiritual youngster with a love for the Holy Land, an intricately carved kotel (left) takes the cake (literally).

Football fans will cheer over this three-tier cake, with details like yard lines spread across a first-tier football field, an NFL shield with the bar mitzvah boys initials replacing the National Football Leagues. And of course, the whole thing is topped with a frosted football.

If youre a serious sports aficionado, for whom every sport makes your eyes sparkle and your hands and feet twitch, a four-tier cake (left) representing nearly every sport is just the ticket. Each tier is a ball: baseball, football, soccer ball and basketball.

Have a love for your hometown? Do a city-themed cake. Here (right), the celebrant chose to honor Philadelphia with a fondant Philly cheesesteak, Phillies baseball team logo and the citys Love sculpture.

While on the ever-popular sports theme, this bar/bat mitavah kid is a Knicks fan (right) and got a cake with the teams colors, symbol, a hoop tier supporting the top tier which is, of course, a basketball.

The blinged-out, stylish pre-teen in your life will love this rhinestone- and pearl-encrusted Torah cake (left). Details include tufted sides and scallop-edged Torah scroll.

Is your kid the next Drake? If so, look no further than this street jam-inspired cake (left), with breakdancers, beats headphones, a boombox and a flat-billed cap, along with a fat chain necklace complete with star of David and chai.

Bar mitzvah guests can help defend the galaxy against the dark force with this Star Wars (right) cake. Against a star-studded backdrop, the Deathstar (Darth Vaders ship) ominously stands on top, ready to attack Luke Skywalker and Yoda below. The cake even has red and blue lightsabers.

Michelle Honig is the food intern of the Forward. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.

The Forward’s independent journalism depends on donations from readers like you.

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Concert Review: ‘Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition’ by the National Philharmonic at the Music Center at Strathmore – MD Theatre Guide (press…

National Philharmonic guest cellist Zuill Bailey. Photo credit: The Music Center at Strathmore official website.

A treasured institution amongst orchestral music lovers within the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, the National Philharmonics mission is to enrich and inspire the lives of those who experience the National Philharmonics dynamic programming first hand. Through diverse programming, top-notch artistry, and hard to beat initiatives such as ALL KIDS, ALL FREE, ALL THE TIME (in which kids, aged 7-17, are permitted to enjoy National Philharmonic performances free of charge) and educational programming made possible through partnerships with the Music Center at Strathmore and Montgomery County Public Schools, the National Philharmonic has cemented itself as a preferred organization for many who seek high quality orchestral, choral, and other musical experiences.

a perfect example of fantastic musicianship coupled with expertly curated programming.

On Sunday, April 23rd at the Music Center at Strathmore, the National Philharmonic, conducted by Piotr Gajewski, presented a wonderful program consisting of Max Bruchs Kol Nidrei, Op. 47, Ernest Blochs Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hebraique, and Modest Mussorgskys Pictures at an Exhibition (orchestration by Maurice Ravel).

Renowned cellist Zuill Bailey masterfully performed Kol Nidrei and Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hebraique (both written for cello and orchestra). A classical cellist, soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, artistic director, and teacher, Bailey is one of the most sought after cellists of the day, and rightfully so; his technical precision, impeccable musicality, and highly charismatic stage presence solidify his place as one of the foremost cellists of the twenty-first century. It must be said that theres something about the intrinsically mournful sound of a beautifully played cello; Baileys ability to tell a story through his music completely enamored audience members.

By the time his performance was over, a silent hush fell over audience members as we were literally left speechless, breathless, or some magnificent combination of the two. Both compositions were (at the very least) inspired by Jewish music. Although it has been said that Bruchs Kol Nidrei lacks Jewish sentiment, it was inspired by a traditional Jewish melody. Conversely, Blochs Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hebraique is a series of two Jewish themes: the first a rhapsodic melodic line that emulates the voice of the cantor as he recites the Kol Nidrei during the evening service of Yom Kippur, and the second based on Isaac Nathans arrangement of O Weep for Those That Wept on Babels Stream.

It must be said that theres something about the intrinsically mournful sound of a beautifully played cello

Pictures at an Exhibition, composed by Russian composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky, is one of the composers most popular compositions. Originally written for piano solo, the programmatic work consists of 10 vignettes based on paintings completed by Mussorgskys friend, artist and architect Viktor Hartmann, who tragically died at the age of 39. A testament to the National Philharmonics commitment to quality educational programming, concertgoers were able to peruse an art walk of sorts in which artwork inspired by Mussorgskys 10 musical vignettes, created by Montgomery County Public School students, was displayed outside of the concert hall. National Philharmonics performance of Pictures at an Exhibition was exquisite. Musical director and conductor Piotr Gajewski demonstrated expert command of the orchestra and created an atmospheric sound that, without question, stayed true to Mussorgskys musical intentions.

The National Philharmonics program entitled Mussorgskys Pictures at an Exhibition was a perfect example of fantastic musicianship coupled with expertly curated programming. Additionally, the National Philharmonics visible efforts to expand their audience to include children, young and old, make them a welcomed member of the D.C. metropolitan areas musical family.

Running Time: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes with a fifteen-minute intermission.

The National Philharmonics next performance will be Carl Orffs seminal Carmina Burana on Saturday, May 20, 2017, at the Music Center at Strathmore. For tickets and more information, click here.

Concert Review: ‘Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition’ by the National Philharmonic at the Music Center at Strathmore – MD Theatre Guide (press…

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LFJCC’s Astor Library unveils music collection – San Diego Jewish World

Posted on 24 April 2017.

LA JOLLA,California (Press Release)The Samuel and Rebecca Astor Judaica Library, located at the Lawrence Family JCC, has unveiled two new collections sure to delight music lovers across the spectrum including students, historians, teachers, and, of course, musicians. The collections were a labor of love for library volunteers, Eileen Wingard and Ted Parker, who have been collecting, organizing and archiving the massive collection since 2006.

The Special Jewish Music Score Collection contains over 1400 vocal and instrumental scores of both Jewish liturgical and secular music. Some of the works date back to the 1800s while others are contemporary. Vocal scores are in Yiddish, German, Ladino, Russian, English, and Hebrew. Instrumental scores include parts for violin, cello, bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, tenor sax, trumpet, cornet, harp, mandolin, piano, organ, and mandolin. Much of the sheet music in this new collection was donated by local cantor and choir director, Henri Goldberg along with the late Dr. Harry Ruja, who was the founder of San Diego State Universitys Judaic Studies Department.

The Jewish Music Record Collection contains over 600 vocal and instrumental albums of Jewish religious and secular music in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, and Ladino. A majority of these records were donated by Dr. Ruja as well as Sheldon Merel, Cantor Emeritus, Congregation Beth Israel. The religious records, all in Hebrew, feature solos by cantors, rabbis and cantorial soloists. Secular records span generations and include both Jewish music and Jewish musicians. The library has just acquired a Victrola turntable, complete with headphones, allowing patrons to listen to the new music collection during their visit.

The Samuel & Rebecca Astor Judaica Library contains over 16,000 items and is a community library that serves all ages. The librarys collection offers philosophical, cultural, and historical literature of the Jewish people, as well as resources for research, circulation, and online access.

Access to the Special Collections can be arranged by emailing [emailprotected] or by calling (858)362-1141. Members and non-members alike are welcome to browse, listen and check-out materials. More information about the Astor Judaica Library, its catalog, programs, and services including the Special Music Collections, are listed on the San Diego Center for Jewish Culture website at http://www.sdcjc.org/ajl.

* Preceding provided by the Lawrence Family JCC

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An uplifting bat mitzvah celebration – Sun Sentinel

An uplifting bat mitzvah party recently took place for a local 12-year-old girl with Down syndrome at Beth Moshe Congregation in North Miami.

The community, including family, friends and volunteers from local organizations, came out to celebrate the bat mitzvah of Chava Basher of North Miami Beach while making her party an unforgettable evening.

Chava’s family wanted to show the community that she can be an inspiration and that she has a purpose in life. Her parents, Hershel and Josephine Basher, were proud of the community support for their daughter’s special celebration.

“Although Chava cannot yet speak, the smile on her face and the glisten in her eyes says it all,” Jospehine said. “Chava knew this party was hers. She was the absolute princess of the evening. We are incredibly blessed to have this huge support system of friends and family who genuinely love and embrace Chava.”

Jewish Community Services of South Florida helped the family with the bat mitzvah party.

“I came to JCS with this vision that I wanted to share with others that all people, no matter their abilities, are to be valued and can do great things,” Josephine noted.

Josephine added that this was a vision of hope, love, acceptance and no limits and that JCS embraced her dream and made it a reality.

“They organized every detail from the music to the photography, food, flowers, candy, you name it to make this an unforgettable evening full of joy and pride. And everyone came together in such a meaningful way to honor Chava as an integral member of our community, a most beautiful flower in God’s magnificent garden.”

The person Josephine approached regarding this vision is Bonnie Schwartzbaum, director of the JCS Kosher Foodbank.

“I told her that JCS and our Birthday Club would love to help,” Schwartzbaum said. “We made a list of all the services we needed, from hair and makeup to flowers and music and I started calling people to ask them to donate these things. Each person that I asked to donate their services immediately said yes and assured me that they were happy to help.”

Schwartzbaum noted that this was truly a community effort and that the “positive energy” at the party was tremendous.

“For me the best part of the evening was watching Chava and seeing how happy she was,” Schwartzbaum said. “This celebration is something that she and her family will always have to cherish.”

Among the several organizations that contributed to the party included a group from the Northern Trust Bank that came to the synagogue in the morning of the party to do the decorating and make the centerpieces. Volunteers from the organization Friendship Circle Miami also helped with the dancing and a crafts project.

Rabbi Mendy Dechter of Friendship Circle Miami said while interviewed at the party, “Chava has been a very active member of Friendship Circle since she was a young girl and Chava has the unique ability to impact all those around her, not only her immediate circle of friends, but the community as a whole.”

Chava’s friends from Friendship Circle and school attended the party. Josephine noted that most of the guests at the party are affiliated with the synagogue the family attends, Bais Menachem Chabad in North Miami Beach. She also noted that Anna Hernandez, the principal of the school Chava attends, Milam K-8 Center in Hialeah, attended the party.

Josephine said that that for years Chava has been warmly welcomed at Lubavitch Educational Center in Miami for extracurricular activities and after-school programs across the school year and that she’s been able to develop meaningful friendships and social skills while being exposed to religious studies with Jewish girls there. She noted that Chaya Sara Dalfin, principal of LEC, said something quite profound at the party.

She said, “three years ago when this mom approached me with a request for her daughter to be able to spend a bit of time in one of our classrooms, I thought I was doing her a favor. But really, we are the ones benefiting by having Chava with us.”

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How One Young Holocaust Victim’s Memory Forged a Community Across America – PJ Media

Ariella Livstone is one of those teenage girls who is wise beyond her years. When I hear the word Holocaust, I think of WWII, concentration camps, six million Jewish victims, and I start to cry. Following her older brother Yonis lead, Ariella sought out a way to honor a Jewish victim of the Holocaust during her Bat Mitzvah through the Remember a Child project. A subsequent series of uncanny coincidences drew an eruv of living memory around the soul of one little girl who perished in the Shoah.

The Remember a Child project began 30 years ago when a group of survivors from the Washington, D.C., area sought to honor the children who perished in the Holocaust. What began as a project to honor their own pre-Bar/Bat Mitzvah relatives who had been annihilated, grew into a decades-long mission to honor every Jewish youth who perished. Since so little information is often available about these children, recipients who are matched traditionally wrap a tallit around an empty chair that sits on the bema in their honor and their names are incorporated during the Bar/Bat Mitzvah service.

Originally Ariella requested a child from Schedrin, the home of her great-grandfather Lloyd Livstone. When no child from Schedrin could be located, Ariella wound up being paired with Lucie Nicole Lipstein from Antwerp, Belgium. Ariellas mother, Danna, explained that the coordinator at Remember a Child reasoned that Livstone (an Americanized surname) and Lipstein sounded relatively alike, and since very few children from Belgium and Holland were ever requested, they thought it would be a special mitzvah.

The mitzvah was special, indeed, as Ariella was only about to find out. Along with a photograph of Lucie, Ariella was given the contact information of the Leighton family who signed Lucie and her brother, Andre Robert, into Remember a Child. Along with an invitation to her Bat Mitzvah, Ariella sent a letter to the family patriarch Ed, now living in Arizona, explaining that she would be sharing her Bat Mitzvah with Lucie and requesting more information about her.

Upon receiving her letter, Ed Leighton (formerly Lipstein) was filled with joy:

A 45-minute phone call to the Livstones ensued during which Ed shared the Lipstein clans heartbreaking story. Years before Nazi occupation, Eds father happened to take a job in New Yorks diamond district. His tenure at the position afforded him the ability to obtain American citizenship, something he ironically was able to take advantage of years later after returning to Belgium, starting his family and confronting Nazi rule. Lucie, her brother and her parents, unable to escape, all perished at Auschwitz. Lucie was less than 10 years old.

Excerpt from:
How One Young Holocaust Victim’s Memory Forged a Community Across America – PJ Media

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The Soul of A Cappella: A Review Of A Kumzitz in the Rain 3 – The Commentator

Just in time for Sefirat Haomer, producer and arranger Doni Gross has released his third album in the a cappella CD trilogy A Kumzitz in the Rain, and this time around, like with the first and second albums, listeners will not be disappointed. Now you may be thinking, three? I never even heard one and two! That would be a fair statement since the A.K.I.T.R. albums have flown somewhat under the radar. Id like to briefly discuss why that may be, before elaborating in more detail on this specific album release.

I do not wish to go into the Halachos of listening to music, live or recorded, during sefira right now, but let it be noted that many Orthodox Jews refrain from listening to music during the days of sefira, even when the music that they might play in the privacy of their homes and cars is recorded . However, many poskim allow for a cappella music to be played during these weeks, as the lack of instruments detracts from the simcha with which music infuses us. It is something which is definitely worthy of contacting your Local Orthodox Rabbi to discuss.

Because of the limitation on music during sefira, a myriad of albums has been released over the years which consist solely of human voices in order to avoid the issue of listening to instrumental music. Well-known artists like A.K.A. Pella and Six13 revolutionized the Jewish a cappella world with tracks that make you wonder how they can produce such sounds merely with their voices and beat boxing. The popularity of this genre has led as well to a cappella songs being produced for non-sefira times, such as A.K.A. Pellas Purim song What Does Haman Say, a spinoff of the secular song What Does the Fox Say? Other groups like The Maccabeats and YStuds as well have used the a cappella genre to produce creative tracks which can liven up ones day, in addition to producing more traditional ones.

Undoubtedly some Jewish Music listeners wish to listen to upbeat and lively music all year round, and these a cappella innovations help one do so even during sefira and the Three Weeks. But sometimes, these tunes cause us to lose focus of what the limitation on music during these times is meant to be about. Sometimes Jewish a cappella releases are more of a technical circumvention of a prohibition, than a channeling of that prohibition to provide inspiration. What eliminating music can do for a person in terms of framing the days of sefira as more somber, soulful a cappella can do to turn those days into ones of inspirational introspection. This is what A Kumzitz in the Rain does so uniquely for its listeners. In fact, in the featured description of the third album on mostymusic.com, it states, Once again, the group is focused on delivering pure and catchy sing-along kumzitz songs with no electronic or synthesized sounds.

Due to its more soulful and less creative a cappella style, as well as its general lack of well-known Jewish music names, A Kumzitz in the Rain may not be a familiar brand to many. But it should be. The tracks on these three albums help bring listeners back to those inspirational Three Weeks summer camp kumzitzes. Each song is a soulful and stirring classic. They are the tunes you often hear during kedusha on Shabbos, meant to bring you down memory lane. A listener may glance at the track list and wonder why its necessary to record Hamalach or Habein Yakir yet again, but these a cappella vocals give the pieces a whole new meaning.

A Kumzitz in the Rain 3 which is available in stores, oniTunes, and with afree sampler on Youtube has two new features setting it apart from theprevious albums. First, A.K.I.T.R. has been successful in its first two albums in using children soloists to bring the songs to another level. These kids are not screechy, but rather hit their notes well and have impressive vocal abilities. A.K.I.T.R. continues this trend in its third album by making this CD a junior album, consisting primarily of kid solos. While most of the vocals are placed against the backdrop of skilled adults and familiar voices like that of Rivie Schwebel, the kids in this album certainly demonstrate their unique and tremendous talents in their own right.

The second new feature follows somewhat of a recent trend, in that the songs highlight the compositions of the great Abie Rotenberg. While Shwekeys new release Those Were the Days also consists of a Journeys Medley, and others like Dovid Dachs in Shiras Hayam have made tributes to Rotenberg before, A.K.I.T.R. draws on Rotenbergs unique capability to produce stirring kumzitz songs in addition to his classic English hits like Joe Dimaggios Card and The Man From Vilna. A Kumzitz in the Rain 3 even features Abie Rotenberg in one of its songs, Modeh Ani.

Because this series of albums is in the unique position, given their name, to deem songs as kumzitz worthy, it essentially takes songs and adds them to the repertoire of kumzitz songs and kedusha tunes. While this third album is focused exclusively on songs from a past generation since it pays tribute to the work of Abie Rotenberg, the first and second albums did a good job of interspersing some lesser-known songs into the mix, expanding the sometimes too short list of potential kumzitz songs utilized in different venues. Look for future A.K.I.T.R. albums to hopefully continue that pattern of expanding our kumzitz playlists beyond just the typical tov lehodos, ana Hashem, and vezakenini.

If you are the type of Jewish music listener who always looks for the vocal-focused slow songs on albums, A Kumzitz in the Rain 3 is certainly for you. And even if you are more into techno a cappella, I recommend giving A.K.I.T.R. a try. Certainly, during the days of sefira and the Three Weeks, days on the Jewish calendar meant for introspection and yearning, we can each use a little Kumzitz in the Rain.

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The Soul of A Cappella: A Review Of A Kumzitz in the Rain 3 – The Commentator

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