Children's concert to honor Jewish music, `mitzvah' traditions

January 04, 2001|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Two of the most important gifts Judaism has to offer the world - its music and its adherence to the commandments known as "mitzvahs" - will be on display at 7 Saturday evening when Howard County's Jewish congregations join to sponsor "Oy Vey! A Children's Klezmer Concert" at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center.

The "mitzvah" dimension to this evening of Jewish singing, dancing, storytelling and humor geared to youngsters and their parents is that proceeds will be used to sponsor the building of a home for a local low-income family.

Howard County synagogue participants are aiming to spread the spirit of voluntarism by repairing and rehabilitating homes, said Dori Blitzstein, activity director for Temple Isaiah in Columbia.

Volunteers from the project, which is called "Sukkot in April," are scheduled to speak at the concert.

Sukkot is the Hebrew name for the Feast of Tabernacles, a harvest festival celebrated by Jews around the world each autumn five days after the conclusion of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The sukkah is a temporary dwelling built by observant Jews in which to eat and sometimes sleep during the weeklong holiday. Hence the term's relevance to a modern social action program of home building.

The musical portion of Saturday's event will be presided over by Sruli and Lisa, klezmorim of the highest order who between them play the clarinet, violin, accordion, cello and drums.

Klezmorim were the itinerant musicians of Eastern Europe, the "old country" for many American Jews - who traveled around singing and playing the Yiddish and Russian songs that define the klezmer idiom.

Sruli and Lisa performed the klezmer soundtrack in the Showtime movie "Devil's Arithmetic." They also are regular performers on National Public Radio and at Jewish festivals in the United States and Canada.

The two artists also are well known for two compact discs, "Oy Vey! Klezmer for Kids" and "Oy Vey! Chanukah."

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