Chanukah Around the World Cantorial Concert

Posted on November 7, 2017

We are now in the Jewish month of Cheshvan, also called “mar” or “bitter” Cheshvan by the ancient rabbis because there are no holidays during this month. Modern day cantors tend to think of it in other terms. But this Cheshvan, I and my Cantorial Concert Committee, led with hard work, dedication, and so much love by Jim and Beth Lavranchuk, are not taking a vacation! Read on to find out what we’re up to, and about a truly wonderful way to spend the upcoming sixth night of Chanukah!

As the days grow shorter and the evenings longer in this time of festivities, both secular and Jewish, Cantor Emily Wigod Pincus has been turning her attention to the cantorial concert on Sunday, December 17 at 4:30 p.m., preceded by a “Meet the Artists” reception at 3:30 p.m., where a light dairy menu will be offered. This year’s concert will be called “Chanukah Around the World.” Cantor Pincus says, “There’s a lot of well-known and beloved Chanukah music, and we will touch on that while inviting the audience to look at Chanukah through the lens of all the different countries in which Jews have lived, bringing a multicultural perspective. It should be not only comforting, but fun and intriguing!” She goes on to explain that she “wanted to have something during this season that would draw the congregation together inter-generationally through music, while helping to raise money for the temple through donations and sponsorships.”

This year’s concert will indeed bring many voices together, both young and old, incorporating the talents of the youth choir, tefillah band, adult choir and our beloved accompanist Kathy Shanklin to bring joy and music to our congregation. One of the special guests will be Joyce Rosenzweig , artist-in-residence at the HUC Debbie Friedman School of Music. “Joyce is a major force in the Jewish music world, and is internationally known as a pianist,” Cantor Pincus enthuses, adding, “I have been dying to do a concert with her ever since I left HUC. I learned all my Yiddish and Sephardic repertory from her, and she was my favorite teacher.”

Cantor Galit Dadoun , of Temple B’nai Or in Morristown, is the other special guest at the concert. Cantor Pincus has worked with Cantor Dadoun on concerts, during Cantor Pincus’ HUC recital, and when she hosted the New Jersey Jewish Choral Festival a few years ago. Cantor Dadoun has sung opera and cantorial roles extensively in her native Israel, as well as Germany, Italy and the United States, and wrote her master’s thesis on the fusion of traditional Sephardic folk songs with Western art music in Jewish music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Clearly, both artists offer rich perspectives on the diversity of Jewish music around the globe and also its symbiosis with secular art forms. Indeed, remarks Cantor Pincus, “Both of these women are incredible people and artists, wonderful to work, perform, and pray with.”

As an added bonus, part of the afternoon will be devoted to singing songs from both The Great American Songbook and Israeli song repertoire, with song requests from some of our strong supporters. Another high-level donor perk is a free voice lesson with Cantor Pincus.

The Talmud says: “All Israel are responsible for one another!” (Tractate Shavuot 39A). As always, events at Temple Beth-El are open to all, regardless of financial means, so if you would like to attend the concert, but will need financial assistance, please contact Cantor Pincus directly to reserve your place.  We will be thrilled to welcome you, and our light will be increased by your presence.

We look forward to celebrating a musical, joyful sixth night of Chanukah. As it is said, “And the Jews had light, joy, gladness, and honor.” So may it be for all of us!

Originally published in the November-December 2017 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.