Swaying But Not Quite Swayed Sway Machine In Concert At NMAJH

The music group The Sway Machine made its Philadelphia debut the evening of September 20, 2012, at the National Museum of American Jewish History, performing a cycle of songs titled “Hidden Melodies Revealed,” which the group describes as “a secret celebration of Rosh HaShanah.” For this Philadelphia performance, The Sway Machine was Jeremiah Lockwood (guitar, vocals, composition/storytelling), John Bollinger (drums), Stuart Bogie (tenor sax), Jordan McLean (trumpet), and Nikhil Yerawadekar (electric bass). Each of these musicians is a prolific performer and collaborator, with each other and with many another group. The group’s ‘sound’, its ideal to which it is attuned and its traditional referential of origin, is a confluence and combination of various, call them, lineages of music: Klezmer, Jewish cantorial music (Jeremiah Lockwood is the grandson of cantor Jacob Konigsberg), the music of Mali guitarist, singer, and composer Ali Farka Toure, to name just these.
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The Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City

KD Lang, Tony Bennett, Jerry Seinfeld, and the Temptations

Philadelphia has a vibrant music, cultural, and arts scene and we are fortunate to have the Wilma Theatre, The Walnut, InterAct, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre and avante garde companies like the Pig Iron.  Broad Street is a culture maven’s paradise.

More after the jump.  
Labor Day marks beginnings and endings:  the end of summer, the beginning of school, the end of blueberries, the beginning of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.   Only an hour drive from Philadelphia, you can still take a walk on the Atlantic City boardwalk and take in a show at the Borgata Hotel.   The fall season at the Borgata Music Box and Event Center is filled with big names like Art Garfunkel, Tony Bennett, and The Temptations.

On Friday, August 17, Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter KD Lang performed a 90 minute set at the intimate Borgata Music Box Theatre.  She transported her devoted fans with standards like “Constant Craving” and “Miss Chatelaine.”   Lang’s version of Leonard’s Cohen “Hallelujah” was by far the most moving song in a vast and varied repertoire.  Lang closed the evening by paying homage to her “mentor” and duet partner, Tony Bennett.  

Lang is not just a singer, but a grand performer.   She fills the stage with her diva presence; she dances, jokes and banters with the audience: “They’ll be no hate’in here tonight” she said, with a smile on her face. Lang, 50, is best known for her 1992 hit “Constant Craving,” which won her a Grammy for best pop vocal performance. In 1989, she shared a Grammy with Roy Orbison for their collaboration on “Crying” and won for best female country vocal performance for her album “Absolute Torch and Twang.” In 2003, she and Tony Bennett won the Grammy for best traditional pop vocal for their standards CD, “A Wonderful World.”

“The Siss Boom Bang – they bring an extra-special zest to the record, performing it live in the studio,” she said in a video interview for Australia’s Art Nation. “The collaborative energy of having six people involved is really important. Plus, the songwriting process was really, really fun and superfast, so the momentum of the record seemed to gather steam and never peter out. It all happened very fast. We went into the studio with a session booked. The second we started recording, it was obvious there was something special about the group of people. After three days, we recorded eight songs. The band was integral to the sound of the record, so I just thought in all fairness it was k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang because they were so much a part of the record.”

So even though on this rainy Labor Day we feel summer slipping away, only a hour’s ride away is the ocean, the boardwalk, and the Borgata Hotel with a fabulous line-up of cultural events this season.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
One Borgata Way
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
General Information: 1 609 317 1000
[email protected]

One Grain More

— by Ronit Treatman

Enjoy this Les Misérables food allergy music parody by local artist Michael Bihovsky. “One Grain More” will knock your hypoallergenic socks off!

When Marius, Cosette, and Eponine (or “EpiPen” ™) are invited to an allergy-friendly party at the house of Jean Valjean, each must create a dish absent of all possible allergens.

How the Israel Philharmonic Saved Jews From the Nazis

— by Hannah Lee
I did not hear of this in time to write about it for Yom HaShoah or Yom Ha’Atzmaut, but I didn’t want to sit on it for a whole year.  It was aired on Israel’s Channel 2 in April.  My husband’s maternal uncle, Yaacov Mishori, emeritus principal horn player of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and a former member of the orchestra management team, appears on-camera as one of the commentators.  The two video clips together total one hour of viewing; they are in Hebrew with Hebrew subtitles, but some of the people interviewed speak in English.

When you search the origins of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), you get a brief paragraph on Wikipedia:

The IPO was founded by violinist Bronisław Huberman in 1936, at a time when many Jewish musicians were being fired from European orchestras. Its inaugural concert took place in Tel Aviv on December 26, 1936, and was conducted by Arturo Toscanini.

However, the full story is much more heartbreaking.  

More after the jump.

Bronislaw Huberman, born in Częstochowa, Poland in 1882, was a child prodigy on the violin.  At the tender age of 14, he performed the violin concerto of Johannes Brahms in the presence of the composer, who cried and was “stunned by the quality of his playing.”  [“Around this time the six-year- old Arthur Rubinstein saw one of Huberman’s concerts.  Rubinstein’s parents invited Huberman back to their house and the two boys struck up what would become a lifetime friendship.”]  

During the ’30s, Huberman sought a way to help his fellow musicians who were facing persecution and murder at the hands of the Nazis.  He devised a plan that used the guise of recruiting musicians for a newly created Palestine Orchestra, funding the effort with his own money.  There were only 72 spots in the orchestra.  He auditioned his musicians, standing with his back to the musicians, because he knew that anyone he did not select would most likely perish during wartime Europe.  The chosen ones were all excellent musicians of high-standing.  Some even defected to the kibbutzim shortly after arriving, allowing Huberman the opportunity to recruit additional Jews.  The languages spoken by the early members of the orchestra were German, Polish, Hungarian, and Russian.  The orchestra later changed its name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and it played “Hatikvah” at the Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948 at the Tel Aviv Museum.

In a similar manner was the welcome offered in American academia, including the creation of the Committee on Social Thought in 1941 at the University of Chicago by the historian John U. Nef, the economist Frank Knight, the anthropologist Robert Redfield, and Robert M. Hutchins, then President of the university.   Lore passed down by the students say that the new department was created to provide a convenient haven for refugees fleeing from wartime Europe.  Over the years, temporary and permanent refugee members of the Committee have included Hannah Arendt, Saul Bellow, Allan Bloom, Friederich Hayek, Leszek Kolakowski, Edward Levi, Paul Ricoeur, and Karl J. Weintraub.

The video clips are bracketed by the playing of Brahms in Częstochowa’s synagogue (now a concert hall) by Joshua Bell, an American with Jewish maternal ancestry.  There were dual historical and personal connections, because Bell now plays on a Stradivarius violin called the Gibson ex Huberman (the names of its first two owners), which was made in 1713.  It had been stolen twice in its lifetime: once for three days in 1919 and the second time on February 28, 1936 from the dressing room of Carnegie Hall.  Huberman never saw it again in his lifetime.  The violin only re-surfaced in 1985 with the deathbed confession of the thief, a former nightclub musician named Julian Altman.  Bell was able to buy the violin for just under $4 million dollars, right before it was to be sold to a German industrialist to become part of a collection.   Bell’s maternal grandmother was from Minsk and his maternal grandfather was born in Israel, so Bell mused on the video that “he might have listened to Huberman play.”

LimmudPhilly: Strong Participation, Maccabeats Ovation

“Outside the box and over the top interesting”, is how participant Ron Siegel, described his 2012 LimmudPhilly this past weekend. “National leaders and the best of local teachers came out and gave their best. We were like drinking it up.” Exclaimed 20 and 30-something Anna and Beth Silver. Sophie Mellon added: “Just today, I learned how to encounter a homeless person in one session, Jewish traditions about creating social change in another, and then I attended a Jewish theater event, a very hot Maccabeat concert, and the discussion at lunch about Jewish values and health insurance, I learned a ton.”

More after the jump.

Some 80 teachers and waves of participants made LimmudPhilly 2012 a profound success. Saturday night was described by many as when the Maccabeats brought everyone to their feet in the rare ecstasy of high quality concert passion that becomes great woven with soulful prayer.

Co-chairs Brian Cohen and Sara Levy and the rest of the winning leadership team ensured quality control from facilities to the incredible diversity of sessions and perspectives. From the presence of Ami Eden, head of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, to the Shabbat prayer lab given by Syd Schwartz, a senior fellow at CLAL, to Gail Twersky Riemer, founder of the Jewish Women’s Archive, into the innovations of 24/6 a Jewish Theater Company and art forms and scholarship of every form, we all saw PhillyLimmud continuing to evolve in healthy and holy ways. Plus, Helen Plotkin ran a beit midrash par excellence. Focused volunteers, a good many teens were helping everywhere one would look.

LimmudPhilly also drew participants who love Limmud from New York, Washington, DC and beyond. Chairs from other Limmud Conferences were present, as well, taking notes. Young Limmud for the youngsters is what we all wished Hebrew school could have been.

At the Philadelphia Jewish Voice table Ronit Treatment had brought the famously kosher insect locusts for viewing, and a poster with recipes and their history in our Biblical tradition. It was wonderful meeting so many creative, engaging, spiritual and intellectually active Philadelphians.

Something to be proud of: Limmud Philly. See you next year!  

Bruce Springsteen Exhibit at the National Constitution Center


David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, admires the 1975 simultaneous Springsteen covers of TIME and NEWSWEEK magazines, part of the new exhibit, “From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen.”

— by Bonnie Squires

The National Constitution Center is the only venue to host the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s must-see exhibition, From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen, outside of Cleveland, where the exhibit has been housed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.  The first major exhibition about the American songwriter will run at the Center from February 17 to September 3, 2012.

The opening reception attracted 1100 friends and supporters of the Center, including the Honorable Joan Specter, who serves as Director of Major Grants for the Center, and her husband, Senator Arlen Specter.  Mayor Bob Johnson, of Asbury Park, New Jersey, was also in attendance and greeted the guests from the bandstand.

The B Street Band entertained party-goers with rousing Springsteen renditions, and the food was typical boardwalk-seashore variety, including hot dogs, pop corn, cotton candy, and hamburgers.

More after the jump.


The Honorable Joan Specter, Director of Major Gifts at the Center, and her husband Senator Arlen Specter, admire some of the extraordinary photos of Springsteen included in the exhibit.

“It is fitting that the Center – the only museum dedicated to America’s constitutional freedoms – is the first and only venue in the nation to host this exhibition from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum,” said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner.  “We are certain that our visitors, from the most devoted Springsteen fans to those experiencing his music for the first time, will be inspired by his commitment to illuminating the struggles and triumphs of `We the People.'”

“I worked very closely with Bruce and his organization to put this exhibit together,” said Jim Henke, vice president of exhibitions and chief curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.  “It’s a comprehensive look at Bruce’s entire career and contains numerous items that have never been seen by the public.  The exhibit was a huge hit when it was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and I am very happy that even more people will be able to see it now that it’s at the National Constitution Center.”

From Asbury Park to the Promised Land takes a comprehensive look at Springsteen’s career and catalog, from such early bands as Child, the Castiles and Steel Mill through his work with the E Street Band and as a solo artist.  Throughout the 5,000-square-foot exhibition, visitors will have the rare opportunity to view more than 150 items, including:


Robin and David Alpher were among the 1100 people enjoying the opening beach party for the Springsteen exhibit, on loan from the Cleveland Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

  • Family photos of Springsteen’s childhood in Asbury Park, N.J.
  • Scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings, photos and handbills from Springsteen’s early music endeavors
  • Handwritten lyrics from all phases of Springsteen’s career
  • Saxophone used by the late Clarence Clemons to play the solo in “Jungleland” from Born to Run
  • Springsteen’s 1960 Chevrolet Corvette
  • Springsteen’s Fender Esquire from the cover of Born to Run
  • The outfit Springsteen wore on the cover of Born in the U.S.A.
  • Springsteen’s 1993 Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Streets of Philadelphia”

The exhibition also features several listening stations where visitors can hear never-before-released songs by the Castiles; Springsteen’s successful 1972 audition for Columbia Records; and interviews with Springsteen on topics such as his songwriting process, his first recording session, and some of his best known albums.  Video footage throughout the exhibition includes archival performances, an edited version of Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run, and clips of Springsteen’s appearance on MTV Unplugged in 1992.

To complement the exhibition, the Center’s public programming staff is developing a variety of interactive programs and activities for students, teachers and families about the importance of free expression.  The Center also is planning a series of special events celebrating the music of Bruce Springsteen.


Celia Feinstein (third from the right), director of Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities, brought her colleagues along who love Springsteen’s music.

Admission to From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen is $24.50 for adults, $23 for seniors and students and $12 for children ages 4-12.  Group rates also are available.  Admission to the Center’s main exhibition, The Story of We the People, including the award-winning theater production Freedom Rising, is included.  For ticket information, call 215.409.6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org.

CBS 3 and The CW Philly are the local media partners for the exhibition.  CBS 3 (KYW-TV) and The CW Philly 57 (WPSG-TV) are part of CBS Television Stations, a division of CBS Corporation.

Photo Credit: Bonnie Squires.


Bob and Sybie Brassler paid tribute to the rock and roll music icon.

Herschel and Betsy Richman enjoy the Asbury Park-like treats at the opening reception, while enjoying the sounds of Springsteen’s rock and roll hits.

Academy of Music 155th Anniversary Concert and Ball


Major movers and shakers in Philadelphia’s economy were among the 1500 supporters at Saturday night’s 155th Anniversary Academy of Music Concert and Ball, including (left to right) Ron and Rachelle Kaiserman, Robert and Caroline Zuritsky, and Renee and Joe Zuritsky.

— by Bonnie Squires

Philadelphia’s premier white-tie event took place at the historic Academy of Music, preceded by receptions and dinner at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue.

The Philadelphia Orchestra’s 155th Academy of Music Anniversary Concert and Ball featured the debut on the Academy of Music stage of. Music Director Designate Yannick Nézet-Séguin , with special guests multiple Grammy Award®-winners singer/pianist Diana Krall and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Tipping its hat once again to the first Academy concert, the program was a mix of popular and classical music, just as the 1857 opening concert was.

Jazz performer Krall surprised the audience by calling back on stage her friend and collaborator, Yo-Yo Ma, to the delight of everyone.

More after the jump.


Terese Casey, wife of Senator Bob Casey, and Felice Wiener

Yannick also had the Philadanco dancers, reflecting the rainbow of colores which lit the stage and columns of the Academy, perform to the strains of the orchestra.  A surprise finish was the appearance of the Society Hill Dancers, dressed in formal attire of the 1850s, doing a waltz.

The Jewish community was among 1500 supporters of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Academy of Music, an historic monument to music, opera and dance. The Gala evening began with a pre-concert dinner. Guests could choose from two exciting offerings this year: the President’s Cocktail Party and Dinner at the Park Hyatt at the Bellevue, or a Dine Around option, which allows patrons to dine at selected restaurants along the Avenue of the Arts, or on their own. In a nod to the Academy’s early years, and in a unique departure from recent history, both the Anniversary Concert and the Academy Ball were held entirely within the Academy of Music. A “symphony in three movements,” this unique evening gave attendees the chance to celebrate the “Grand Old Lady of Locust Street” within her very walls.

Public officials attending the evening included Governor and Mrs. Tom Corbett, Senator and Mrs. Bob Casey, a number of city and state officials, and corporate, cultural, arts organizations and philanthropic foundation leaders.


Christina and John Saler

The gala was co-chaired by Joanna McNeil Lewis, president and CEO of the Academy of Music,  and John R. Saler, chairman of Stradley and Ronon’s Government Affairs Practice Group, who also serves on the board of the Philadelphia Orchestra.


Corbetts greet Richard Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra, with Joanna McNeil Lewis and John Saler, co-chairs of the Academy of Music Concert and Ball, in the background.

In the receiving line with the co-chairs and the Corbetts were Richard Worley, chairman of the Philadelphia Orchestra board of trustees, and Allison Vulgamore, CEO of the Orchestra.

The energy of Yannick, the Orchestra, the guest artists and the dancers enthralled the audience.  And the impressive program journal, reflecting the support of various segments of the community, was the parting gift as people finally left the Academy balls, held in various sections of the Grand Old Lady of Broad Street.

Photos credit: Bonnie Squires.


More photos
David and Susan Lipson Ken and Nancy Davis Ron and Marcia RubinHelen and David Pudlin, Esq.
Sandy and David Marshall, with Dianne and Jeff Rotwitt Scott and Lynne Mason with friends Pat and Rob Schaffer Harmelin Group

Dip Your Apple – Rosh Hashanah

A Rosh Hashanah musical parody by The Ein Prat Fountainheads
from the Ein Prat Academy, Israel based on Shakira’s “Waka Waka”.

No apples, pomegranates, babies, or smartphones were harmed in the filming of this video. Please don’t feed babies honey.

Lyrics follow the jump.
Lyrics

Tekiyah… Shvarim Truah
Tekiyah… Shvarim Truah (shofar sounds)

A new year rising
A new beginning
Lift your head up
Turn yourself ’round
The world is spinning

Feel the magic
Of a new day
Open your heart
To a fresh start
Send your fears away

You’ve made mistakes
You feel it
You got what it takes
Believe it

Any wrong can be made right
Just forgive, you need not fight
Shana Tova Umetuka (A sweet and happy New Year)
It’s Rosh Hashanah

Shanana nana, Tova
Ume Ume Tuka
Dip your apple in the honey
It’s Rosh Hashanah

So many new hopes
Waiting to find you
Open your eyes
The dreams you prize
Are all around you

The smiles are hiding
No use in guessing
Make up your mind
Go out and find
Life’s simple blessings

This is your time
You feel it
How sweet it is
Believe it

Any wrong can be made right
Just forgive, you need not fight
Shana Tova Umetuka
It’s Rosh Hashanah

Shanana nana, Tova
Ume Ume Tuka
Dip your apple in the honey
On Rosh Hashanah

Shanana nana, Tova
Ume Ume Tuka
Hear the sounds of jubilation
This Rosh Hashanah

Yehi Ratzon She-niye Le (May we be…)
Rosh, Lo Zanav (…a head, not a tail)
Sweeten life for those around us
With joy and love

Avinu Malkeinu
Chanenu V’anenu
Hear our prayer ‘O Lord this hour
Inscribe us in the Book of Life!

Aneinu, Aneinu (answer us)
Aneinu, Aneinu
Aneinu, Aneinu
Aneinu, Shana Tova!

Shanana nana, Tova
Ume Ume Tuka
Dip your apple in the honey
On Rosh Hashanah

Shanana nana, Tova
Ume Ume Tuka
Hear the sounds of jubilation
It’s Rosh Hashanah

Sh’echiyanu | Give us life Lord
v’kiyimanu | And sustain us
v’higiyanu | Oh deliver us | To salvation

Sh’echiyanu | Give us life Lord
v’kiyimanu | And sustain us
v’higiyanu | Oh deliver us | To salvation

In this New Year
On Rosh Hashanah
Make your loved ones smile
This Rosh Hashanah

Open your hearts to one another
This Rosh Hashanah
And begin life anew
This Rosh Hashanah!