arts & entertainment
aim to move
Joyous and Devotiona
Aviva Chernick headlines Temple Israel
Laker Concert this weekend.
I Contributing Writer
ocalist Aviva Chernick has
enjoyed appearing at Temple
Israel on two occasions and is
glad to be returning.
There are professional and personal rea-
On the professional side, she enjoyed
serving as co-leader for a Kabbalat Shabbat
service and later participating in a Yiddish
concert with many performers.
On the personal side, she feels special vis-
iting the area where grandmother Rebecca
Rappoport Wilensky settled after leaving
Russia, before moving to Canada to get mar-
Chernick, accompanied by five musicians,
will be presenting original songs in an after-
noon program on Sunday, April 6. The free
event is the latest Laker Concert sponsored
in memory of Sarah and Harry Laker.
"I will be performing contemporary
music in Hebrew, English and Ladino pulled
together from my recent projects in touring
and entertaining Jewish and non-Jewish
audiences around the world:' says Chernick
in a phone conversation from her home in
"The songs come from my recordings,
and they are joyous and devotional.
"To? Kalah' (`Come Bride'), for instance,
is a bright, sunny song, and I wrote the
melody while I was in Namibia; I didn't real-
ize what the words would be until I came
home and decided to use a poem by Hayim
Nahman Bialik that welcomes the Sabbath
"L.Y.G.: which won the John Lennon
International Songwriting Competition in
2010, was co-written with the band Jaffa
Road. Its words are from Isaiah: 'Nations
shall not lift up swords; neither shall they
learn war anymore.' I sing the words in
Hebrew, and we sing with the audience"
Appearing with Chernick will be Joel
Schwartz on electric guitar and resonator
guitar; Ernie Tollar on woodwinds and saxo-
phone; Aaron Lightstone on oud, saz and
sitar; Sundar Viswanathan on vocals and
saxophone; and Rakesh Tewari on percus-
"I have a beautiful singing partner with
Sundar, and he does gorgeous harmonies
and helps me lead audiences in moving sing-
alongs," says Chernick, who recently curated
and hosted Toronto cantors and composers
in Tehilah — The Music of Prayer.
"I think of the Temple Israel program as
world devotional music, and the concert is
planned to be warm, inviting, relaxing and
joyous. It's always my intention to bring the
audience in no matter how large the room.
I want the setting to feel like the event is in
my living room.
"In between the songs, I translate and
tell stories. That's all as much a part of the
Special to the Jewish News
At The Movies
Opening Friday, April 4:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
is another entry in the recent series of
blockbuster hit films, including Captain
America: The First Avenger and The
Avengers, featuring the famous comic-
Chris Evans again plays Steve
Rogers/Captain America. The film
opens with Rogers living quietly in
Washington, D.C. But when a colleague
comes under attack, he once again
assumes his superhero identity. Helping
him is the Black Widow (Scarlett
Johansson, 29) and a new superhero,
the Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
It has been reported that Johansson
is expecting her first child with her fian-
ce, French journalist Romain Dauriac.
Elaine Stritch, 89, was born in Detroit
and moved back to Birmingham, Mich.,
April 3 • 2014
- Aviva Chernick
adventure as the music. I really aim to move
somewhere with the audience. When we
leave, we are somewhere different from
where we first began"
Chernick, 42, has been onstage for more
than 20 years. She started out in theater,
moved through modern dance and found
her way into singing with the help of a
"I had always sung, attending synagogue
services and going to camp, but it didn't
occur to me until later that it would be a
profession," says Chernick, who studied the-
ater at Toronto's York University and dance
at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre.
"I was focused on the theater and
assumed I would end up there. I grew up in
Ontario, not far from Stratford, and often
went back and forth to see plays"
As she studied directing, Chernick real-
ized her interest in movement and dance.
Singing was more spontaneous while she
pursued her other talents.
"I did some training, and in 2005, my
teacher said it was time for me to have a
concert," she recalls. "I had been working
with [Canadian world music group] Jaffa
Road but hadn't grown into my singing self.
"After my first solo concert, I knew I had
found my place. I began to study hazzanut
(cantorial music), and for the past 10 years,
I've also been leading prayers across denom-
inations. I work with four congregations and
enjoy the broad range of experience:'
in March 2013 after living most of her
life in New York City. In the Big Apple,
she established herself as a stage leg-
Stritch is one of the "tough dame"
Broadway stars that many assume
"have to be" Jewish. But as often as
not (as with Ethel Merman), these
ladies are just "Jew-ish" in style.
Certainly, Stritch, who isn't Jewish, has
worked with tons of tribe members. Her
first New York City acting class includ-
ed the late Bea Arthur.
Her stellar career is the subject of
the new documentary Elaine Stritch:
Shoot Me. Among those interviewed in
the film is Hal Prince, 86, the legend-
ary Broadway producer and director,
who says in the film: "She has the guts
of a jailbird but the soul of a convent
firmed that she is pregnant, and they
are engaged to be married. The odd
thing is that Kutcher, who isn't Jewish,
perhaps knows more about Judaism
and Jewish religious practice than
Kunis doesn't have much of a reli-
gious background while Kutcher picked
up a lot of Jewish knowledge (including
some fluency in Hebrew) while attend-
ing the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles
for the last decade. Also, he visited
Israel a number of times on religious
and business trips.
I could be wrong, but my sense is
that Kutcher's affiliation with the con-
troversial Kabbalah Centre will result in
the couple and their child being quite
involved in mainstream Jewish religious
practice. Call it a hunch based on years
Lauren Bacall, 89, made her first film
You've probably heard that Ukrainian-
born American actress Mila Kunis,
30, and Ashton Kutcher, 36, have con-
in 1944. She was then only 19 and
had much more modeling than acting
Chernick received two JUNO (Canadian
Grammy) nominations for 2013. One recog-
nizes her independent work for the record-
ing When I Arrived You Were Already There,
and the other relates to work done with Jaffa
Chernick will see some familiar faces in
the audience. Her partner, Carlos Gouveia,
a graphic and Web designer, will be present
along with her parents, Beryl and Noam
Chernick, retired marriage counselors and
"My parents taught me a desire for deeper
communications:' she says. "They were
caregivers and gave me the intention to be
caring for people. They traveled around the
world lecturing and were quite theatrical. I
think I get my stage presence from them"
While singing dominates Chemick's work-
ing hours, improvised dancing often fills her
private moments. Visiting with friends is
another favorite pastime.
"My intention for my music is that it is
able to be appreciated by a broad reach of
people' she says. "Most of the songs have
fairly simple words that are repeated. That's
part of the devotional aspect:'
Aviva Chernick will perform at 4 p.m.
Sunday, April 6, at Temple Israel in
West Bloomfield. For information on
the free concert, call (248) 661-5700
or go to www.temple-israel.org .
experience. Nonetheless, she blew audi-
ences and critics away with her role as
Humphrey Bogart's love interest in To
Have and Have Not.
Seventy years later, Bacall is still
working. She is the voice of the "Grey
One" in the English-language version
of Ernest and Celestine, a charming
French animated children's film cur-
rently scheduled to open in Detroit on
Fyvush Finkel, 91, a former Yiddish
theater star and the Emmy-winning
co-star of the 1990s TV show Picket
Fences, has, literally, a new act. He is
now much in demand to perform his
recently created nightclub routine. He
tells stories and jokes, and he sings
Asked about exercise, he just told the
New York Post: "Please. My exercise
is where I live. I walk in the halls. Also,
I enjoy myself. Especially when I have
to run from ladies in the synagogue. I
was married 61 years. She's gone now. I
should marry again?"