Steve McCloskey, President
THEY’RE COMING TO NJC!
On February 20, 2020 we’ll be in the maelstrom of the 2020 election cycle. If you’re looking for a well-deserved respite from this winter’s cacophony of Presidential politics, then come to NJC’s 2020 Artist Program, featuring the pure, unadulterated, joyous song-making that is the essence of “Listen Up!”, an award-winning Jewish a cappella quartet from Chicago. Listen Up! (also known as “LU!” had its genesis in 1992, when a short-lived a cappella jazz quintet was suddenly faced with the loss of its two non-Jewish singers. The three remaining Jewish songsters, among them Steve Singer, the founder, added a fourth vocalist. The rest is the enduring legacy of Listen Up!, the house band (without instruments) of the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival for the past quarter century.
Steve Singer, Freddie Feldman, Eli Taylor and Kadi House, the members of Listen Up!, all have day jobs as educators, as well as Jewish music educators Listen Up! Audiences. All four vocalists have unique talents that contribute to the group’s success and longevity. Steve Singer calls it “pure joy to create and sing together.” He’s a student of Jewish music, the group’s arranger and the bass percussionist who delivers the group’s rhythmic underpinning. Freddie Feldman is a terrific tenor whose long standing expertise in sound engineering and video production has showcased Listen Up!’s zest for song. Freddie has been immersed in the world of a cappella, as a vocalist and a producer, for over two decades.
Eli Nathan Taylor, a boffo baritone, is a vocal anchor who delights in combining his passion for music with his love for Judaism and Israel. Kadi House, a mezzo soprano and newest member of the group, has a charismatic personality that bolsters the already dynamic the group’s already-dynamic sound. This is not Kadi’s first foray into a cappella singing, but LU! allows her to synthesize her passion for unaccompanied vocalizing with her love of Jewish song.
All four stand out as soloists, yet meld perfectly for exquisite, often transcendent harmonies. When I interviewed Steve Singer by phone recently to delve deeper into the soul of LU!, Steve told me that “voice elevates the human condition” and that LU!’s goal is to “help others connect to their Jewishness through song.” LU! Provides what he calls “a musical window to the Jewish cultural and religious history and tradition.” Although LU! takes its mission seriously and performs for a wide variety of audiences, it leavens its performances with humor and warmth, help its audience learn and sing Jewish songs while having fun.
LU! reinterpret old tunes and reinvents older material in a new form. For example, the group has recast Adon Olam to the tune of “Happy,” the megahit by Pharrell Williams. More recently, LU! has arranged a Hebrew remix of the monster country-rap hit, “Old Town Road,” retaining the tune, but replacing the lyrics with the words of Dror Yikra.
NJC is most appreciative of the unstinting support of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples over six years since the inception of NJC’s Artist Program. This year’s most generous grant serves to underwrite this concert.
Listen Up! revels in audience engagement and participation. They want you to feel the joy they experience performing. Come see why the Chicago Tribune has crowned Listen Up! “Chicago’s uniquely compelling Jewish vocal band.” To hear and see for yourself visit www.jewishsong.com.
OCTOBER: A TIME FOR SOLEMNITY AND HOPE,
TIKKUN OLAM, ENLIGHTMENT AND CAMRADERIE
October commences with the eight days that transition between the quest for renewal that is Rosh Hashanah and the somber introspection, atonement and redemption that Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur call for, to conclude the Days of Awe. This intense period of personal reckoning evokes the sobering recognition that in our personal affairs, actions speak louder than words.
We are called on to make peace not only with our God, but also with those whom we have aggrieved in the past year. The hope of the High Holy Days is that through this soul searching process and making amends, we can strive for a sense of unity that fosters hope for the future.you have not previously worshiped with us during the High Holy Days, please our guest for Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur services. October continues with our Sukkot Shabbat service on Friday, October 18 at 7 pm. Sukkot focuses on togetherness and the sukkah itself can be thought of as a metaphor for the need to break down our walls of separation and build bridges across our divides to promote harmony.
As we seek to practice the Judaic obligation of Tikkun Olam, NJC is collecting clothing, books, school supplies and personal items to be donated to NJC’s adopted community of Limbe’ in northern Haiti. Limbe’ is a forgotten corner of the world untouched by NGOs or aid organizations such as Hope For Haiti. My wife, Shelley, and I have a personal connection to Limbe’ through Abdias Louis, a former resident of Limbe’ and one of our ESL students. Our ongoing efforts to “repair the world” continue with our annual collection of food at Yom Kippur to benefit the Naples Senior Center. Our cadre of NJC volunteers has been meeting over the Summer to discuss and plan our volunteer activities in the community which serve the dual objectives of cementing friendships among our members while doing good to help others.
NJC’s emphasis on education will be highlighted with Rabbi Howard Herman’s inaugural adult education session of the New Year on Friday, October 25, at 5 pm. His topic is disturbingly timeless and achingly timely: “The History of the Scourge of Antisemitism.” Rabbi Herman will explore this pernicious and seemingly endless hatred, how it has impacted Jews historically and how it impacts Jews today. The one-hour adult ed session is followed by a light dinner at 6 pm and then a Simchat Torah Shabbat service at 7 pm.
Rabbi Herman will have 5 additional adult education sessions on the following Fridays at 5 pm: November 22, December 13, January 10, February 7 and March 20. The topics will be informative and enlightening. As usual, we will adult ed at 5 pm, followed by a light dinner at 6 pm and Shabbat services at 7. Our members’ attendance at these sessions has been exemplary.
Lastly, NJC recently formed its third havurah of about 15 members. Together our havurot involve about a third of our membership. They are a testament to the camaraderie and fellowship of our NJC “family.” The havurot will sometimes engage in joint activities, and at other times do their own thing. At all times, members of the havuot will enjoy making social connections.
Come to one of our Shabbat services to experience firsthand the NJC difference.
L ‘Shanah Tovah Tikatevu.
Steve McCloskey, President
WHY THE DAYS OF AWE STILL MATTER TO US
The essence of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is embodied by the broad themes of introspection and redemption. These themes of critical self-appraisal and ridding oneself of sin and guilt through repentance, forgiveness and atonement are the hallmark of the Days of Awe. The High Holy Days provide us an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to the Judaic polestars of justice, mercy and humility and to reassess what it is that we stand for.
Self-assessment involves a degree of probity not often employed in our daily lives, an intimate look inside ourselves that can sometimes be too revealing. The purpose of our inward examination is to gain greater self-awareness and insight into what drives us, both positive and negative. The objective is to embrace the good and to discard the bad, to press our personal reset button to improve ourselves in the new year by charting a better path.
In deciding what course we want to follow in the new year, we must reflect upon where we have been in the past year. Have we stood for exclusion or inclusion? Have we conducted our affairs with civility or rancor? Have we fomented partisanship or fostered comity? Have we embraced unity or sown rancor? Have we treated others with dignity and respect or with scorn and enmity?
Going forward, we must decide what we stand for as individuals, as Jews and as Americans. In doing so, we are aware that our free will is both a blessing and, at times, a curse. We cannot blame others for who we are or how we behave. We should be guided by the following test: Would our children/grandchildren be proud of our conduct? If they would not, we should not do it. When we lift others up, we lift ourselves up. Let us help bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice and mercy, not only for those we know and love, but also for those who have no one to advocate for them.
We will have a blank slate to fill in in the coming year. Let us fill it with good deeds and comport ourselves with tolerance and compassion toward others and with empathy in our interactions with others. We seek to fix our mistakes from the past year by atoning for those misdeeds and by seeking absolution from those whom we have aggrieved. As we abstain, if able, from food and drink on Yom Kippur, let us also refrain from the use of our ubiquitous electronic devices, by taking a much needed 25 hour respite from social media, our computers, TVs and the like. Disconnect from your devices and reconnect with your family and friends.
Naples Jewish Congregation (NJC) will observe Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah at the end of September and the beginning of October. We look forward to our spiritually uplifting and thought- provoking High Holy Days services, led by Rabbi Howard Herman. His messages are timely, cogent and designed to make us think. Our engaging and soulful music is led by Jane Galler, our Cantorial Soloist, and augmented by our enthusiastic choir, expertly accompanied and conducted by Music Director Alla Gorelick.
If you have not previously attended High Holy Days services with us, you will be our guest. Please see our ad in this issue of the Federation Star. Come see for yourself why NJC is the small congregation with the big heart.
L ‘Shanah Tovah Tikatevu.
Steve McCloskey, President