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June 11, 2009 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-06-11

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Sounds Of Music

Lack Of Funds

Temple Israel chamber concert
to feature DSO violinist.

Michigan Institute for Jewish-
Christian Relations closes its doors.


Suzanne Chessler

Special to the Jewish News


s Temple Israel in West
Bloomfield prepares for
its next public concert, the
planning team also is getting ready
to release a DVD of the previous pro-
Greg Staples, a violinist with the
Detroit Symphony Orchestra, will
include two Israeli songs among clas-
sical selections at 7:30 p.m. Sunday,
June 14, in the Leslie R. Schmier
Family Memorial Chamber Series.
"A Bis'l Zun" ("A Bit of Sun"), the
presentation which featured hit songs
from the Yiddish theater and was the
Harry and Sarah Laker Memorial
Concert in April, is in the final stages
of video production and will be
released before the High Holidays.
"Greg Staples is a great artist who
has brought high artistic standards to
other concerts we've had," says Cantor
Michael Smolash, who was among the
performers in the Yiddish show.
"We were very pleased with the
attendance at 'A Bis'l Zun' and decided
to make it into a video that will sell for
$20. The money will be used to sup-
port our concert and lecture series!'
The temple leadership is particu-
larly glad to offer the free concerts at a
time when many people are tightening
their entertainment budgets, the can-
tor explains. It was decided to offer the
Staples program as an evening event
because of the season, when families
can spend afternoons enjoying warm-
weather activities.
Staples, who will be accompanied
by pianist Angelina Pashmakova, will
perform works by Mozart, Brahms,
Prokofiev and Sarasate. The Israeli
pieces, "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" and
"Bashana Haba'ah," were arranged for
violin by Jack Robbins.
"Greg has a silky way of play-
ing and has become a staple of our
chamber series:' says Neil Michaels,
Temple Israel's cantorial soloist and
a singer in the Yiddish presentation.
"We wanted our audience to have an
opportunity to hear masterpieces of
the violin repertoire and some Jewish
content as well."


June i, 209

DSO's Greg Staples

Staples is a native Detroiter who
graduated from the Indiana University
School of Music in Bloomington. He
returned to the area after working
with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
The Yiddish concert, with a seven-
member band, also featured Aviva
Chernick, a Canadian singer who has
recorded three albums. She tours as a
vocalist comfortable with traditional
and contemporary Jewish numbers.
Also a cantorial soloist, Chernick leads
and facilitates prayer and conducts
workshops on the music of praise.
Smolash, who has appeared in
Canadian musical theater, practiced
his tap dancing for a couple of months
before spotlighting his choreography
skills for the capacity crowd at the
temple and in the upcoming DVD.
Eva Kraus and Libby Gales, both of
West Bloomfield, were among those
who attended the Yiddish program.
They especially liked the music and
voices and felt the language took them
back to their European roots.
"We want Temple Israel to be a fun,
inviting place:' Smolash says. "We're
working with a committee to pull our
fall concert together, and we hope to
announce that soon!'

Greg Staples will perform at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 14, at Temple Israel, 5725

Walnut Lake Rd., West Bloomfield.

Reservations for the free program can be

made by calling (248) 661-5700. Tickets

on the day of the concert will be available

on a first-come, first-served basis.

ecause of financial challenges
exacerbated by Michigan's
depressed economic climate,
the Michigan Institute for Jewish-
Christian Relations, founded as the
Ecumenical Institute for Jewish-
Christian Studies and also formerly
known as the Dove Institute, has
closed it doors.
After more than a year of trying
to develop a workable funding plan,
the economic downturn sealed the
fate of the Institute. MIJCR executive
committee members — Rabbi Joseph
Krakoff of Congregation Shaarey
Zedek, president; Michael Hovey of the
Archdiocese of Detroit, vice president;
Micki Grossman, secretary-treasurer;
and members-at-large Art Voisin and
Don Cohen — reluctantly determined
there was no other choice even though
many challenges and opportunities
remain for strengthening Jewish-
Christian relations in Michigan and
around the globe.
The Institute was founded in 1982
by Rev. Dr. James R. Lyons to provide
an atmosphere for study in Jewish-
Christian relations that would impact
local churches and synagogues as well

as the larger community. Combining
the latest scholarship with practi-
cal outreach, the Institute promoted
Jewish-Christian understanding that
moved beyond tolerance to active
affirmation of one another.
After Lyons' death in 1998, the
Institute was headed by David Blewett,
who also served as national director
of the National Christian Leadership
Conference for Israel (NCLCI).
Thousands of books in the exten-
sive library gathered by Lyons on
Christian-Jewish relations, the
Holocaust, Israel, Judaism and
Christianity and religious history have
been purchased or otherwise distrib-
uted to various local institutions.
"Despite the fact that the Institute in
many ways was truly in the forefront of
furthering Jewish-Christian relations
both locally and nationally, the current
economic reality made it impossible to
continue. The work however remains
critically important and I am confident
that synagogues, churches, universities,
and religious organizations and institu-
tions will build upon the trailblazing
work of the Institute," Krakoff said. —

Celebrating Study

Rabbi Leima Wilhelm, a teacher at Yeshivas Lubavitch in Oak Park, takes
part in the 25th anniversary celebration of a project of global, daily study
of the Mishnah Torah, the principal work of Maimonides. The initiative,
originated by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel
Schneerson, has included hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide.
A Web site, www.chabad.org/Maimonides, was launched last month and
includes text, audio classes and event videos. It was created by a group
including Yeshivas Lubavitch alumni Rabbi Shalom Klein, now a project
manager at the Chabad Lubavitch Media Center in New York and Rabbi
Mendel Shemtov, rabbinic mentor for the Chabad Yeshiva in New York.

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