March marks the inaugural Jewish Music Month at Beth Israel Congregation, which features an eclectic variety of music from klezmer to classical to different kinds of Jewish music.
“Music is just an essential part of our Jewish identity,” said David Madoff, who co-chairs the program with his wife, Saudra, “both ethnically and religiously.”
The Music Month kicks off with a Jewish coffeehouse featuring multi-instrumentalist Seth Kibel, who will be joined by Beth Israel Cantor Jen Rolnick and Madoff himself, a flutist. The second event is a three-part series of talks and discussions about Jewish composers with Baltimore classical radio station WBJC Program Director Jonathan Palevsky.
The first discussion, on March 7 will explore the life of George Gershwin while the second and third, on March 14 and 21 are about Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, respectively. The choice of composers isn’t random, says Madoff, they were all born within a 20-year period: Gershwin in 1898, Copland in 1900 and Bernstein in 1918. Gershwin and Copland also had the same teacher, Rubin Goldmark (though Gershwin only took three lessons with Goldmark) while Copland, according to Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie, was an “avuncular” mentor for Bernstein.
The third event is a kiddush singing discussion on March 16 after Saturday morning services. Rolnick will lead the congregation in Yiddish, Israeli and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) psalms. Overall, these events are “in keeping with our Jewish thought and our Jewish identity,” Madoff said.