After facing down a formidable Milken Community High School sound system and the best vocal efforts of the knights of “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” who inadvertently “crashed” a recent rehearsal, the feat of harmonizing with 250 singers during a pair of sold-out concerts at New York City’s Lincoln Center should be a cakewalk for one local Jewish choir.
A dozen members of Kol Sephardic Choir stood in a semicircle, clutching songbooks as they rehearsed the lyrics of “Quando el Rey Nimrod.” Halfway through the Ladino folk song, music director Avi Avliav held his hands up and told the group to stop.
It doesn’t get more “only in America” than this: A Christian president with an African-born Muslim father throws a Chanukah party at the White House, and the featured act is the West Point Jewish Chapel Cadet Choir -- a group that serves as a beacon of Jewish pride and identity at the nation’s top military academy, while also boasting a non-Jewish conductor and plenty of non-Jewish members.
7 Days In The Arts
The Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS) needs a concert hall. It has an outstanding conductor in Dr. Noreen Green, talented and accomplished musicians, and a loyal following. I've heard LAJS perform with increasing brilliance at venues, including the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, University Synagogue, and Sun., April 29, at Valley Beth Shalom. Without doubt, a hall makes a difference.
For Ilana Besha, 19, the songs conjure up images of the first mass aliyah from famine-stricken Ethiopia to the Promised Land. "When word came to our village that we were going to Israel, it was like a dream come true," said the teenager, who was in Los Angeles last week with Shlomo Gronich and the Sheba Choir. But her long, exhausting journey was fraught with danger. As Besha, at 4, walked with her family across the Sudan, several of her baby cousins wasted away and died. "They are buried in the desert," she said.
When visiting Berlin you can't miss the golden dome of the New Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse. It towers over the city skyline and stands as a reminder of the rich history of Berlin Jewry. Crowned with the Star of David, the dome also reminds us of persecution and near destruction.