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May 08, 2014 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-05-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

arts & entertainment

From
The
Heart

Elizabeth Applebaum
I Special to the Jewish News

H

is name was Harold Kean,
but everyone called him "the
Sunshine Boy." He was blind, he
loved movies and he played the mandolin
and sang, becoming one of WJR's most
popular guests in the 1920s and '30s.
Later in life, Kean became a vocal coach,
and among his students was a 10-year-old
named Elaine.
It was a long bus ride from her home
in Detroit to the Fisher Building, but it
also was "a fabulous beginning" to a life of
music, Elaine Serling says. "I still remem-
ber standing there [in Kean's studio], sing-
ing my heart out"
Serling is still singing her heart out,
performing throughout the world, writ-
ing her own songs (both words and
music), recording, teaching and work-
ing as a Jewish music educator. She will
appear at the Jewish Community Center
of Metropolitan Detroit's Stephen Gottlieb
Music Series, performing in concert at
8 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Berman
Center for the Performing Arts in West
Bloomfield, and at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 13,
at the JCC in Oak Park.
Among Serling's fans is the event's

Set to appear at the JCC Stephen
Gottlieb Music Series, Elaine Serling is
one of Metro Detroit's most beloved
singers and educators.

founder, Harold Gottlieb, who said: "In
addition to having such a beautiful voice,
she has been so dedicated to the Stephen
Gottlieb Music Festival, the JCC and our
community over the years."
Serling, of Orchard Lake, will star in
From the Heart, performing favorites from
Broadway, film and pop, and some of her
own songs.
"Music is a two-way steer she says.
Whether teaching or asking others to join
with her in song or simply entertaining,
Serling seeks to connect. While on stage,
she often looks into the eyes of audience
members, and she can see when she has
expressed something in song — perhaps
a hope, or longing or compassion — and
those listening have felt it, and in those few
seconds there is a kind of closeness between
two people, a quiet but magical human con-
nection for which everyone yearns.
And to think — Serling began her
career as a tap dancer.
"My parents offered me one of three
lessons; one was all we could afford; she
says. "I could take piano, dance or sing-
ing"
After one tap lesson, "I announced: 'I
think I want to take singing:"
So she signed up with Harold Kean, and
only five years later she was performing

with the USO. At 18, Serling was asked by
Rabbi A. Irving Schnipper of Congregation
Beth Moses to perform for the synagogue's
holiday concerts.
"I didn't know what to sing for
Chanukah:' she says. "'I Had a Little
Dreidel' again?"
No. She did not want to talk about mak-
ing a dreidel out of clay. So she wrote her
own song, beginning a long and award-
winning career as a composer of Jewish
music.
In her writing, Serling was often
inspired by one of her favorite genres: folk
music. She loved Gordon Lightfoot, Judy
Collins and Peter, Paul and Mary, and she
was haunted by the seeming dichotomy of
sorrow and beauty. "I never understood;
she says, "how the melodies were so gor-
geous but the messages were so tragic."
She was asked to teach at Jewish day
schools throughout the city, using music to
help students understand religion and cul-
ture. To Serling, Fiddler on the Roof isn't
just entertainment — it's a tool that helps
children experience history, like life in the
shtetl or the pain of a pogrom.
These days, Serling devotes most of her
time to writing and singing, and she calls
the voice "an instrument that has to be
practiced" — and certainly not just with

"Music is a two-way
Elaine Serling
street."

-

rehearsals in the shower.
"My family calls it lock-down:' she says of
those days just before a live appearance. She
avoids crowds, meditates, does a lot of walk-
ing and stays focused on a positive perfor-
mance — and overcoming her stage fright.
Serling, who has won awards from
ASCAP (the performing rights organiza-
tion) and received the Jewish Women of the
Arts Award for original educational music,
is also the mother of two daughters and
is married to Michael, all of whom, along
with her mother and late father, have always
encouraged her passion for music and who
"have supported me my whole life'



Elaine Serling performs From the
Heart at 8 p.m. Saturday, May

10, at the Berman Center for the
Performing Arts (reserved seating),
$15/$10 JCC members and seniors;
and at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, at the
Oak Park JCC (general admission),
no charge. (248) 661-1000; www.
jccdet.org/elaine-serling.

Jews

Nate Bloom

New Black; Tom Steyer, 57, is a very

Special to the Jewish News

rich hedge-fund manager who backs
"green" candidates and bankrolls a
community bank and a climate change
center at Stanford; and Janet Yellen,
67, is an economist and the first woman
head of the Federal Reserve System.

Jews With Influence
The May 5 issue of Time magazine

includes its list of the "100 Most
Influential People in the World." Here,
in alphabetical order, is a list of the
2014 Jewish listees:
Anat Admati, 56, born and raised in
Tel Aviv, is a Stanford economist and
the co-author of The Bankers' New
Clothes, a book that has become a
worldwide rallying point for those inter-
ested in reforming our financial system;
Megan Ellison, 28, film producer and
daughter of Larry Ellison, 69, the uber-
rich head of Oracle software, has prov-
en her taste and courage, bankrolling
such recent artistic/
box-office hits as Zero

Dark Thirty, American
Hustle and Her; Jenji
Kohan, 44, is the pro-

Kohan

54

May 8 • 2014

ducer and head writer
of the Showtime series
Weeds and the Netflix
series Orange Is the

Amazing Story

Last year, I wrote about how actress

Ginnifer Goodwin (TV's Once Upon a
Time), 35, appeared before her home-

town Memphis, Tenn., Reform congre-
gation, where she was a bat mitzvah,
and recounted how she had recently
seriously returned to Jewish religious
practice.
Goodwin recently appeared on ABC's
Jimmy Kimmel Live! and talked about
her pregnancy (she's six months along)
and her April 12 wedding to Josh Dallas,
her TV co-star.
Their Jewish wedding had only 10
guests and was conducted by Micha
Greenstein, her bat mitzvah rabbi.
While Dallas isn't Jewish, Goodwin
made it clear to Kimmel that their
child would be raised Jewish. Then she

shared an amazing wedding story.
Her wedding planner, Goodwin told
Kimmel, called her the morning of her
nuptials and, in a frantic voice, told
her that the planner's car had been
robbed of some its contents, including
Goodwin's ketubah, or wedding con-
tract.
Goodwin told the planner that it
would be OK. Her rabbi was at the
hotel: "I'm sure that there is statio-
nery there," she said, implying the
rabbi could write up a replacement
ketubah. Then, right after she got off
the phone, Goodwin received mes-
sages from her agents.
She told Kimmel: "This sounds like
a joke: Two Jews were walking down
the street in Hollywood [and] found
a piece of paper in the middle of the
street, read Hebrew, knew that the
13th of Nisan was like the 12th of April,
and therefore it might be important
that they get this piece of paper back
[to me] since my name was on it. They
googled who represents me, found my
reps at home on Saturday and got us
back our wedding ketubah."

At The Movies
Neighbors, opening Friday, May 9,

boasts an incredibly tribe-heavy cast
and crew.
The plot: Seth Rogen, 32, and Rose
Byrne play a nice couple with a young
baby who try to be friendly when a wild
fraternity takes over a house next to
their home. But the couple quickly lose
their patience with the frat's all-night
"rages," and a war-of-sorts ensues.
Zac Efron, who has
a Jewish grandparent,
plays the head of the
frat. During one party
scene, he lays a kiss
on a coed played by
Halston Sage (NBC's
Crisis), 20. Meanwhile,
Dave Franco, 28, and
Sage

Christopher Mintz-
Plasse, 24, play the

other big frat boy parts.
And then there's Lisa Kudrow, 50, as
a college dean trying to tame the fra-
ternity. The director, Nicholas Stoller,
38, writer of the recent Muppets mov-
ies, is Jewish, too.



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