The Afro-Semitic Experience group plays fusion jazz for charity at Adas Israel

The Afro-Semitic Experience performs enthusiastically at Adas Israel/ photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Happy MLK weekend! How have you been celebrating the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

I’ve been very fortunate—Sunday afternoon I attended a concert by the The Afro-Semitic Experience. They were an ethnically diverse group of musicians sponsored by religiously diverse institutions—Adas Israel and the People’s United Church of Christ. All proceeds from the concert went to the local interfaith charity, So Others Might Eat (SOME).

The seats on the first level of the Charles E. Smith Sanctuary filled up as people listened to a large variety of songs—ranging from middle-century jazz adaptations to soulful church inspired music to frenetic klezmer. My favorite might have been the spirited rendition of a Passover favorite, Eliahu, when Jews call for the prophet, Elijah, to join the seder for some wine. At one point in the hour and a half-long concert, we even got up, joined hands and danced around the synagogue.

One thing that really stuck out to me was how so many of these songs were imbued with the belief in a higher purpose, as personified by “the Creator.” It was a very uplifting and powerful message, both about how to come out of the other side of suffering and have faith in your life’s path. It was equally as moving to come together as peoples from different belief systems and realize that we hold a lot of universal truths in common.

The Afro-Semitic Experience concert followed a sermon Sunday morning at the People’s United Church of Christ, and a Saturday afternoon panel on hunger at Adas Israel. Speakers included Father John Adams of SOME, Alexandra Ashbrook of D.C. Hunger Solutions and Debi Wilogren of The Washington Post.

Although most communal MLK charity events for tomorrow are sold out, including at the DCJCC and Yachad, if you’re still looking for a way to give back, check out Sixth & I, which will be serving breakfast at SOME this Thursday!