Shoresh gears up for its first Jewish music festival

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Yona Openden, a co-chair of Shoresh’s Jewish Roots Music Festival, hopes the festival will provide younger generations of Jewish people with an opportunity to connect with a piece of their cultural heritage that until now may have gone unnoticed.

“All music is powerful,” said Openden, a resident of Pikesville and member of Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim. “Jewish music specifically can really provide a spiritual experience at the same time. And I think that it’s important to expose the next generation to this concept that there’s just wonderful, beautiful music out there that can really connect them to their roots.


Moshav members
Moshav members Duvid Swirsky (left) and Yehuda Solomon; Moshav is one of the bands performing at the Jewish Roots Music Festival. (Courtesy of Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro)

“It’s not just for their grandparents to listen to and enjoy,” Openden continued, “but it’s really for all the generations.”

Shoresh, an organization that works to build Jewish identity in Frederick and the surrounding area, will hold its first Jewish Roots Music Festival on July 3 from 3-9 p.m. at its Adamstown campus, located at 2428 Pleasant View Road. The festival was originally the idea of John Davison, the chairman of the board at Shoresh.

Rabbi David Finkelstein, executive director of Shoresh, sees the festival as a type of “kosher Woodstock,” he said, noting that the music will be exclusively Jewish in character.

“It’ll be all kinds of Jewish style, and some are in English and some are in Hebrew and who knows if there’s even going to be one in another language,” said Finkelstein, a resident of Baltimore. “It’s songs with Jewish messages.”

Openden added that the festival will also serve as an opportunity to bring people back together after the challenges of social distancing.

“The idea was really to bring everybody together,” Openden said. “Obviously after COVID, it’s been a long dry spell of opportunities to interact and spend quality time with Shoresh and the broader Baltimore community. So we thought it would be a great idea to bring people around the … Jewish music theme.”

The musicians scheduled to perform at the festival include Moshav Band, Lenny Solomon of Shlock Rock, Pinny Schachter, Diaspora Yeshiva Band and Joey Newcomb, whom Finkelstein said had “taken the Jewish world by storm.”

“You’re talking about world famous acts who are at the front and foremost stages of fantastic Jewish music,” Finkelstein said. “You’re talking about legendary performers who have brought so much to the Jewish world in having a love and appreciation for Jewish music.”

In past years, Shoresh would often have a large barbecue fundraiser in May, with many different kinds of activities for families, said Finkelstein. This will be the first time Shoresh has had a music component like this with it.

“We decided that we wanted to make the fundraiser a little bit more extravagant this year,” Finkelstein said. “And just to have this real festival kind of feel to it.”

Funds raised at the festival will go toward Shoresh’s scholarship fund, Finkelstein said, which is used for financial assistance to families looking to send their children to Shoresh.

The barbecues that Shoresh has held in past years would normally be held in May, before the end of the school year, and have often drawn 500 to 600 attendees, Finkelstein said. He expects attendance at the festival could be between 500 and 1,000.

Children’s activities featured at the festival will include pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, moon bounces and art projects, said Finkelstein. Food will also be available for purchase at the event.

During the festival, a VIP event will be held in Shoresh’s diner, featuring social media personality CW Silverberg, said Finkelstein.

“I hope that [attendees] walk away with, first of all, just an enjoyable experience, but also an understanding of how inspirational and enjoyable Jewish music is and can be,” Openden said.

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