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Veteran activist/performer Si Kahn
plays benefit concert at the Ark.
Special to the Jewish News
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He's Still Here
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who has appeared in Ann Arbor many
times. "Pete Seeger heard it in a
Pittsburgh bar in 1947 and translated
it into English. While I was learning
the song, I realized how free flowing it
is and how the melody perfectly fits
"I added the opening lines of the
Kaddish in Hebrew to the end of the
song. After shows, people come up to
me and say it reminded them of their
i Kahn will not be perform-
ing a religious concert when
he appears April 15 at the
Ark in Ann Arbor, but he
will be supported by two Jewish syna
gogues in the city — Temple Beth
Emeth and Beth Israel Congregation.
The synagogues are
among 30 groups partici-
pating with Religious
Action for Affordable
Housing, a coalition that
is sponsoring the show
and will get the proceeds
from ticket sales.
"All of my concerts are
fundraisers for some
cause," says the 59-year-
old Kahn, who makes his
home in North Carolina.
"I've always earned a liv-
ing as an organizer, not
as a musician.
"I spent the 1960s
doing civil rights work
and the 1970s doing
labor organizing with
mine and textile workers.
Since 1980, I've worked
with the nonprofit
We do civil rights, labor
and community organiz-
ing, primarily in the
South. For the past four
years, we've been work-
Si Kahn: "It's hard to separate my organizing career
ing to abolish for-profit,
from my musical careen"
Kahn will be perform-
ing some selections from his latest CD,
grandmothers, grandfathers or time
We're Still Here (Strictly Music Records),
spent in a synagogue."
a live concert CD from his 2003 tour of
Kahn, who performs with guitar or
Holland, as well as other numbers. Each unaccompanied, learned to sing in the
number, mostly with his own folk-rock
Pennsylvania Conservative synagogue
compositions, has many themes, such as of his late father, Rabbi Benjamin
freedom, families and communities.
Kahn, who also served as the Hillel
"The Gap ($8,825 An Hour)," for
rabbi at Pennsylvania State University
example, is about excessive executive
and, later, international leader of both
pay. "He Lies in the American Land,"
Hillel and B'nai B'rith.
which he did not write himself, is
"It's hard to separate my organizing
about an immigrant coming to
career from my musical career," says
America and relates to the Jewish
Kahn, recently in Michigan to play at a
experience of his own forebears.
memorial service for his late friend, Hy
"The immigrant song was written in Kornbluh, a labor educator. "I was one
Slovak in about 1911," explains Kahn, of those Jewish kids who went south