Jewish community celebrates summer with music festivals

Members of the band "Better Weather"
Members of the band Better Weather (Courtesy of Better Weather)

Why settle for a song of the summer when you can indulge in one or two community music festivals? And with music festivals hosted by both The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore and Chizuk Amuno Congregation the local community has you covered.

“This is a return to gathering, a return to community, using music,” said Brad Hecht, event co-chair of the The Associated’s event, Summer Music Fest – Here for Good Community Concert at Pearlstone. “The Associated is a community convener, and I think, for me, music is a universal uniter. So it’s our way to bring events back and have some fun with the family outside.”

Summer Music Fest will take place July 25 at the Pearlstone Center and include performances from the bluegrass group, The 19th Street Band, as well as members of several different bands, namely The Bridge, Jazz is Phish and Psycho Killers, who will be playing together, said Hecht. Asked how the bands were chosen, Hecht explained that Paul Weinberg, also a co-chair for the event, has previously played with several of these musicians.

In addition to the musical performances, attendees will be able to enjoy Pearlstone’s high ropes adventure course. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own picnic food, blankets or chairs.

A $36 donation per car is required, with proceeds going to The Associated’s 2022 Annual Campaign.

“To me, it’s just that opportunity to get out, to be outdoors in nature, hear some great music, have some fun, reconvene with the community,” said Hecht, a resident of Pikesville and member of Chizuk Amuno. “All of the good summer vibes that come from being in this community that we’re all a part of, I hope we can kind of reunite with all of that.”

Later in the summer, on Aug. 12, community members can also attend the second day of Chizuk Amuno’s Summerfest 2021. The first day of Summerfest 2021 was held on July 22.

“We are having a community celebration featuring live music, food trucks, entertainment for children and … outdoor games for adults,” said Carly Schwartz, the director of congregational life and engagement at Chizuk Amuno, on both the July 22 and Aug. 12 events.

The Aug. 12 event, held at the synagogue’s William and Irene Weinberg Family Athletic Fields, will feature the band, Better Weather, a Grateful Dead cover band. When deciding what band should perform, the synagogue reached out to its community members for suggestions. Eventually, Chizuk Amuno connected with Rick Samuel, a member of Better Weather who had previously attended Hebrew school at Chizuk Amuno. Samuel was also married at Chizuk Amuno decades later. On July 22, Summerfest had a performance by Shrink the Deficit, a rock band whose performers are two psychiatrists and an accountant. This band came recommended to Schwartz through a friend of hers.

Activities at Summerfest will include softball and cornhole, as well as face painting and balloon art for children, Schwartz said.

“It will be an outdoor event with something for everyone,” said Schwartz, who lives in Lutherville-Timonium.

Summerfest is part of Chizuk Amuno’s 150th anniversary celebration. Staff felt that, with the pandemic receding, holding an outdoor festival would be an excellent way to bring the membership back together and reignite the community in a safe way.

“I hope that people come away from these events with a deeper sense of the Chizuk Amuno community and that they feel connected to one another and to us,” Schwartz said.


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