The Epichorus Blends Judeo-Arabic and Area Music at 2015 Washington DC Jewish Music Festival

The Epichorus performs an encore at the DCJCC/ photo taken by Rachel Mauro

New York-based The Epichorus performed to a full auditorium at the DCJCC Washington Jewish Music Festival Wednesday night. Heavy on instrumentals, the group also featured the soulful vocals of Priya Darshini.

Zach Freedman, rabbi at the New Shul in Manhattan and player of the oud and guitar, composed much of the music. Other group members in attendance included Daniel Ori on bass, Megan Gould on violin, Hadar Noiberg on flute and Rich Stein on percussions.

Among the songs they performed for their hour and a half long concert, Freedman had the audience sing along to a rendition of Lecha Dodi, a traditional Jewish piece for welcoming Shabbat, that he composed for his wedding. Other pieces he spun from such religious texts as verses of the Song of Songs and the Jewish blessing after meals. The group also touched on melodies from Syria and Pakistan.

Although beset with very minor technical difficulties, I was very taken with the instrumental harmonies, particularly by the flute and violin in tandem. The musicians all performed with evident, physical passion for their work, which made it all the engrossing and enjoyable.

This program was promoted in part by the Foundation of Jewish Studies. The Washington Jewish Music Festival continues through the weekend; click here for more information.

Lincoln’s Jewish Legacy and Jews in Pa Mining Towns Among Local Lectures for Jewish American Heritage Month

Lincoln’s Jewish podiatrist, Isachar Zacharie / courtesy of Jewish World Review

May heralds in the ninth commemoration of Jewish American Heritage Month! The official website has been updated with upcoming events at venues such as the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington is teaming up with two of these organizations to present events:

The Society is also hosting a challah sale—four loaves for $24 to benefit it’s educational programs with pick up at their offices or free delivery in Penn Quarter. Deadline is May 4; sign up here.

On May 3, the Foundation for Jewish Studies and Congregation Beth El in Bethesda are co-hosting Jews, Protestants and the Secularization of Modern America with historian/professor Dr. David Hollinger.

Please comment with any other area events below!

Past JAHM coverage on JewishDC: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

Book talks, Panels, Walking Tours and Plays for Jewish American Heritage Month 2014

April 30 commemoration of the Days of Remembrance at the Capitol building/ photo courtesy of USHMM

Today, in honor of the Days of Remembrance for the Holocaust, the Capitol building hosted a memorial ceremony, complete with speeches and a U.S. Infantry presentation of the flags of the liberating divisions. But tomorrow is May, and ergo the eighth year of the commemoration of Jewish American Heritage Month! The official website has been updated with upcoming events at venues such as the National Gallery of Art, the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington is teaming up with two of these organizations to present events:

For hyper-local history, sign up for the May 4 Walking tour of Arlington Cemetery, or meet up with young adults from DCJCC’s EntryPoint DC for a downtown walking tour of Chinatown. Only a few spots left!

If you’re free tomorrow evening, the Foundation for Jewish Studies and Washington Hebrew Congregation are co-hosting Beyond the Battlefield: The Legacy of the Civil War for America’s Jews with historian/author Adam Mendelsohn.

And finally, Arena Stage presents the world premiere of Camp David, a historical drama about the meeting for Middle East peace with world leaders Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat. JHSGW is offering a discount on ticket prices; click here for more! The play continues until May 4.

Past JAHM coverage on JewishDC: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

Modern-Day Learning at Adas Israel’s MakomDC

Several months ago, shortly after High Holidays, in fact, Adas Israel launched a new series of innovative learning programs, largely for adults, in their renovated beit midrash (study center.) These monthly programs revolve around a theme, and include lectures, panels, screenings and more in what they hope will be more of a 21st century, “coffee house” environment. This month’s theme was justice, and I figured it was time to review some events.

“Justice” is a rather versatile subject and Adas embraced many aspects—from Rabbi Steinlauf’s exploration of the mitzvah of tzedakah to the reading of a play on interfaith conversations. In keeping with the 21st century gestalt, I decided to zero in on two events that were about including marginalized groups in the modern Jewish community—LGBT and people with disabilities.

Studying Jewish religious texts through “a different lens,” as presented on our handout / photo taken by Rachel Mauro

Dr. Jay Michaelson, who recently published the book God vs Gay? The Religious Case for Equality, was the keynote speaker on Tuesday, Feb. 4, who sat down with Rabbis Steinlauf and Holtzblatt to discuss progressive advances in the Conservative Jewish community, issues LGBT people face when approaching Jewish communal life, and even a thoughtful, broad-minded stance on the issues facing Orthodox groups.

My favorite part was breaking off into traditional Jewish study groups of 2-3 called “chevruta” where we provided with biblical verses about gender, specifically as it applies to the patriarch, Jacob. We also had access to quotes from scholarly thought on these passages, ranging from the modern to a surprisingly homoerotic interpretation in the Zohar of Jacob wrestling with the angel. Our concluding group discussion touched upon how ideas of gender and sexuality are intertwined, among other things. Certainly more useful for a longer, more in depth series of study sessions, but the evening was a great way to get our feet wet! The event was presented in partnership with Bet Mishpachah, Nice Jewish Boys DC and Nice Jewish Girls DC.

On the Shabbat of Feb. 22, I attended a more insular event on making the synagogue and community more accessible to people of varying disabilities. Rabbi Feinberg officiated over a panel of five congregants advocating for various physical and intellectual issues, plus the director of the Interfaith Initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities. It was a good chance for this smaller cache of members to take stock of what they as a group had accomplished and what they had left to do, broadly speaking. I enjoyed getting the chance to hear from a diverse group of people about their experiences in the Jewish community at large, and their hopes for Adas specifically.

Justice month wraps up with another biblical class this Wednesday, Feb. 26, about divine justice, in conjunction with the Foundation of Jewish Studies. Next week brings a new month and a new theme: Israel. Check out the programming here!

Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month with Local Benchmarks

President Bill Clinton and Holocaust survivor and founding chairman Elie Wiesel help dedicate the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in April 1993 / photo courtesy of USHMM

In perhaps the most fitting way to herald in May as Jewish American Heritage Month, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, today and tomorrow, celebrate their 20th anniversary in downtown DC. Click here for their national calendar of events, Museum timeline, multimedia coverage of public programming and collections building, and an online form to submit your own impressions.

Be sure to visit the official site, and JAHM pages at the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Park Service and USHMM.

And in local fare, a look at what’s coming up at The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington:

May 5: Walking Tour, Arlington National Cemetery, in partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Studies and the Jewish Museum of Maryland

May 9: Featured Speaker: Gerda Wiessman Klein—Author, Humanitarian, Holocaust Survivor, hosted at the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives

May 19: Walking Tour, Downtown Jewish Washington, in partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Studies, Jewish Study Center and the Jewish Museum of Maryland

And in more fortuitous timing, Sixth & I is currently a contestant in the Partners In Preservation’s competition for a $100,000 prize. If the synagogue wins, it plans to use the funds to repair the historic stained glass windows. You can vote daily through May 10 by clicking here!


Past JAHM coverage on JewishDC: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009.

Jewish American Heritage Month Enters Sixth Year

Following on the tail of Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day,) I’m expecting U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)’s annual press release for the stateside Jews any day now! Meanwhile, I’ve gone digging myself through my grad school’s digital archive to contribute a little something—an image of the yearbook page from the first anum where Hillel was a club at the University of Maryland College Park (1940. Hillel itself came into existence in 1923 in Champaign, Ill. Click here to read a booklet on Hillel’s history, including rare documents and photos from the archive. B’nai B’rith International, which Hillel was part of until the end of the last century, published a list of 31 days of Jewish facts and firsts to coincide with the heritage month. And click here to view the UMD 1940 yearbook in full.)

The Jewish American Heritage Website has been updated with events and exhibits taking place around the Washington, D.C. area. Also check out JAHM sites at the National Endowment for the Humanities, The National Park Service and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

And in local fare, a look at what’s coming up at The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington:

May 3: Book Reading: When General Grant Expelled the Jews, in partnership with the National Archives, co-sponsored by the DCJCC, National Museum of American Jewish Military History, Jewish War Veterans, Jewish Community Relations Council, Foundation for Jewish Studies and Washington Jewish Week

May 6: Walking Tour, Arlington National Cemetery

May 8: Exhibition Lecture: Jewish Washington: Scrapbook of an American Community,, hosted at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library

(2011 coverage)
(2010 coverage)
(2009 coverage)

Upcoming Events: January 23-29

Shavua Tov! Below, I’ve compiled a list of Jewish events I’ve found to be going on next week. Please feel free to comment with any others, and I will add them. See you around town!

Tuesday, January 24

The Search for Jewish Identity Using the Short Stories of Sholem Aleichem

Music and the Jewish Immigrant Experience: Jewish Sources in the Music of Gershwin, Copland and Bernstein

Hub DC Citizen Circles Peer Learning Launch Group

ROC-DC and Occupy Supporters’ Worker’s Rights Protest

Delta Rae Concert

Har Shalom: Making Modern Midrash

Locally Grown Festival

Wednesday, January 25

Not Your Bubbe’s Sisterhood: Are You a Football Girl?

The Network Power Lunch: Executives Making a Difference—Educating, Engaging and Advocating for Israel

JCCNV: Life on a kibbutz

Avalon Theater: “Salsa Tel Aviv” screening

Locally Grown Festival: The Prostate Dialogues

Thursday, January 26

Hafla Israeli Cultural Celebration

The Insider Briefing, premier for Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day

Kennedy Center: Michael Winograd Klezmer Trio

PJLL: Melton Israel Seminar Information Session

PJLL: May 14, 1948: What did those 28 minutes represent?

Jubilee Jobs

Friday, January 27

Downtown Shabbat with Larry Paul and Robyn Helzner

Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy: My Grown Up and Me

Friday, January 27-Saturday, January 28

Learning and Connecting with Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Salomon

Saturday, January 28

Brad Mehldau concert

Jewish Primary Day School: Trivia Night!

Sunday, January 29

Zbigniew Brzezinski Reading

Beth El: Healing Service

Upcoming Events: December 5-11

Shavua Tov! Below, I’ve compiled a list of Jewish events I’ve found to be going on next week. Please feel free to comment with any others, and I will add them. See you around town!

Until Sunday, December 11

Washington Jewish Film Festival

Sunday, December 4 – Thursday, December 8

Community Connections Week

Monday, December 5

The State of Young America

Paid Sick Leave Grassroots Kickoff

LGBT All Fired Up for Chanukah

JSC Reading the Zohar

Creative Little Kids Winter 2011

Tuesday, December 6

The Edge of History

Young Invincibles Holiday Reception

District 15 Parlor Meeting

Hadassah and Temple Shalom: Winds of Change: Fast Moving Events in the Middle East

National Museum of American Jewish Military History: Stitches for Soldiers

JSC Sacred Fragrances of the Tenach

JSC Inquisition and Expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal

JSC Why does Yiddish Poetry Matter?

Wednesday, December 7

Melissa Clark reading

NOVA State Legislators’ Reception 2011

B’nai Tzedek: Film, Lunch and Latkes

Hebrew Home Starlight Lounge

JSC The Three Waves of Jewish Migration to China

JSC Branching Out from Prayer: Contemporary Poetry on Liturgical Themes

JSC Jews of the American South: West Virginia

Handmade for the Homeless

Thursday, December 8

Activists Awards Grassroots Gala

Sixth & I Men’s Club The art of whisky: A tasting from Cooper Fox Distillery

District 16 Parlor Meeting

Bible Study with Norman Shore

Friday, December 9

HYL Shabbat Dinner

6th in the City Shabbat Dinner

Interfaith Couples Shabbat Dinner

Ohr Kodesh: Tot Shabbat

Washington Hebrew Congregation Special Celebration

Am Kolel: Darkness and Light Shabbaton

Saturday, December 10

Rally for Housing for All

Sunday, December 11

Kabbalah, Science and Universal Ethics

Kesher Israel Home Energy Initiative

Om Shalom Yoga

Grandparenting Interfaith Grandchildren

JCCGW Chanukah Celebration

Olam Tikvah: Musical Festival of Lights

Shalshelet: No Rock Like You: Songs for the Jewish Soul

JewishROC Annual Fundraiser

Yiddish of Greater Washington Café Kasrilevke

Parenting Center Workshop: Baby Signs

Upcoming Events: November 7-13

Shavua Tov! Below, I’ve compiled a list of Jewish events I’ve found to be going on next week. Please feel free to comment with any others, and I will add them. See you around town!

Through Sunday, November 13
JCC of GW Annual Book Festival

Monday, November 7

MTA Open House on Proposed Purple Line Project

Justice John Paul Stevens Reading

Har Shalom: Harvest of Books Fall Sale

WJFF Year Round: 77 Steps

Tuesday, November 8

An Overview of Jewish Liturgical Music

Jewish Twenties and Thirties Single Seated Speed Dating

Autumn Brews: A Seasonal Tasting with the Beer Activist

Israel Night: Evening Exchange with the Experts

B’nai Tzedek: The Grandparents’ Circle

B’nai Tzedek: American Jewish Experience

MCCA Benefit 2011

Wednesday, November 9

(Un)secure Communities Forum

Umberto Eco reading

Interfaith Couples

Gesher Day School Admissions Open House

Fairfax Kollel’s Fall Session

JSC: Jewish Cultures Around the Globe: Jews of France

Thursday, November 10

Looking into Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

MTA Open House on Proposed Purple Line Project

Beth El Visits the National Museum of American Jewish History

JCCNV: Afternoon Lunch and Talk with Stephen Fried

JCCNV: Book Club and Lovers’ Night with Sonia Taitz

Special Briefing from The Agudah: Israel’s National LGBT Task Force

Discussion of Tent Protests in Israel

Friday, November 11

6th in the City Global Hunger Shabbat

Temple Emanuel: Tot Shabbat Service and Dinner

Tifereth Israel: Carlebach Friday Evening Service and Dinner

Theater J: Tea for Two—BEST FRIENDS

We the People—Veterans Day

Saturday, November 12

JCCNV Fall Fundraising Gala: A Night of the Arts

HURT Acoustic Performance

Bikur Cholim Volunteer Appreciation Annual Dinner

Beth El: Club 60 Gala

Tifereth Israel: Israel, Egypt and the new Middle East view

Sunday, November 13

Not By Power Home Energy Workshop

Challah Back Volunteer Training

JSSA Hospice and Transitions Volunteer Training

Temple Emanuel Brunch and Movie: Into the Arms of Strangers

Tifereth Israel: Building Community One Family at a Time

WHC: Boys of Steel: Creators of Superman

UMD: Conference on Moses Mendelssohn, Jewish Enlightenment and Eastern Religion

Politics and Prose: Gershom Gorenberg: The Unmaking of Israel

JewishROC: Classic Kabbalah 101

Tifereth Israel: Finding Gd on the Bus

JSC: Make Your Own Kosher Sushi

Authors Out Loud: Joshua Levitt

Emery Shelter Visit: November 2011

Upcoming Events: October 24-30

Shavua Tov! Below, I’ve compiled a list of Jewish events I’ve found to be going on next week. Please feel free to comment with any others, and I will add them. See you around town!

October 23-November 2: The DCJCC Jewish Literary Festival

Monday, October 24

2nd Virginia Immigrants Advocates Summit 2011

Sixth & I Running Club

Jewish Chaplain’s Memorial Dedication

Library of Congress: Synagogues in Hungary

JCCGW Screening of Israeli Film “77 Steps”

Beth El: Musical Journey Info Session

Tuesday, October 25

Ani DiFranco Concert

Potomac Community Center: Preschool Fair

Library of Congress: Jerusalem’s Future

Jewish Foundation for Group Homes 28th Annual Gala

B’nai Tzedek: The Grandparent’s Circle

JSC: Write Your Own Jewish Prayer

What do we Do After Preschool

Wednesday, October 26

Responsa of the Holocaust

Jewish Thirties and Forties Single Speed Dating

Loundon Candidate’s Forum

B’nai Tzedek: Building Literacy Workshop

J-Fed Lunch and Learn: PACT Afulfa

UMD: Reporting and Misreporting the Arab/Israeli Conflict

J-Fed: Friends with Benefits: A Deeper Approach to Charitable Giving

Temple Emanuel: Israeli Movie Night: Divine Intervention

J-Fed: Securing Our Jewish Future Locally and in Israel

ReelIsraelDC: “Strangers” screening

JCC of GW: The Levant comes of Age

JSC: Basic Judaism

Jewish Cultures Around the Globe: Jews in Cuba

The Siddur: Translation as Commentary

Three Classic Midrashim: Talmudic Literature and Existentialism

Taste of Sage-ing Circle

Jubilee Jobs

Off the Wall” Alina and Jeff Bliumis

Introduction to Judaism October 2011

Theater J After the Fall

Thursday, October 27

Between History and Memory: Rethinking the American Jewish Past

Kesher Israel: Book Event with Senator Lieberman

Justice by Stephen Bryer reading

Educators Symposium

GWU: Military Correspondent Yaakov Katz

AJC Learned Hand Award Dinner

B’nai Tzedek: David Ifshin Memorial Award Honoring Wolf Blitzer

Preschool Karate Fall 2011

Blood Drive October 2011

Bone Marrow Drive October 2011

Friday, October 28

Downtown Shabbat with Larry Paul and Robyn Helzner

Politics and Prose: Gilad Sharon: Sharon

Temple Beth Ami: Musical Inclusion Shabbat

Shabbat “Sleep” Walk at the J

Saturday, October 29

Chamberlin with special guest Wildlife

Temple Emanuel: Saturday Morning Minyan and Torah Study

JCCNV Singles Event

Sunday, October 30

Ingrid Fliter, Pianist

Not By Power! Home Energy Workship; Tifereth Israel

JCCNV: Create for a Cure and Rosh Chodesh

Machar: Peace for Israel and Palestine

JCCNV: The Ruth Spector Memorial Mah Jongg Competition

Olam Tikvah: Encountering Gd—from Sinai to Today

Politics and Prose: Amos Oz: Scenes from a Village Life

Beth Ami: Sephardi Songs of Imagined Migrations: The Ladino Project

Strathmore: Gil Shaham, piano

B’nai Israel: A Lifetime of working with Russian Jews

Ohr Kodesh: Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer Lecture

Walking Tour: Jewish Washington

Prostate Cancer: What’s Your Story?

Yachad Community Builders Bash