'A Shayna Maidel' and the Jewish American Dream

Written by Sarah Moosazadeh on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Despite their lack of resources, many refugees believe immigrating to America provides a better future. This dilemma was highlighted in Peace Mountain Theater’s production of “A Shayna Maidel,” followed by a panel discussion titled “The Jewish American Dream – Post World War II,” on Oct. 14 at Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac, Maryland.

To Mic or Not to Mic

Written by Larry Shor on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

As someone who attended Beth Sholom Congregation when it was still located in the District of Columbia, I am often asked whether the shul had a microphone back then before it moved to its current location in Potomac. When I reply in the affirmative, my answer is usually met with puzzlement, as Beth Sholom is an Orthodox congregation. The truth of the matter is, at one time, there was great halachic support for the use of microphones on Shabbat; it was only a greater understanding of the science behind their operation, coupled with political considerations, that led to their gradual disappearance from Orthodox synagogues, including Beth Sholom, by the 1980s. It really is a fascinating story.

Registration — With Chickens!

Written by Larry Shor on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

With everyone returning to school, a very funny story from my past came to mind. It is a story of ingenuity and the fulfillment of the old saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.” It also points out how much things have changed since it happened.

‘Jews You Should Know’ Goes on Tour

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Less than a year after launching the “Jews You Should Know” podcast, Rabbi Ari Koretzky decided to take the show on the road. During his two-week tour of Israel in August, Rabbi Koretzky conducted 25 interviews for the podcast. These episodes, which feature in-depth interviews with exceptional Jewish leaders, will be released one at a time over the next several months.

A Little Art From the Heart for Rosh Hashanah

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Ayelet Solomon is a sixth-grade student at the Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, Maryland. To celebrate her bat mitzvah, she created and contributed a piece of decorative artwork to the Bikur Cholim of Greater Washington (BCGW) kosher pantry at Children’s National Medical Center as a participant in BCGW’s Art from the Heart program.

Matisyahu Mellows, Moves at DC City Winery

Written by Anis Modi on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

Matisyahu brought his songwriting, beatboxing best to DC’s City Winery on Aug. 7. The artist seemed to relish the intimate setting, treating the audience to a career-spanning set, and bringing his children onstage for a familial rendition of his hit song, “One Day.”

Sporting a full beard and kippah, Matisyahu — the Hebrew name of Matthew Paul Miller — first burst onto the music scene with his 2005 Top 40 single, “King Without a Crown.” While he is no longer Orthodox, Jewish motifs have remained a significant part of his music throughout his career.

Following shows at other City Winery locations, Matisyahu will be performing at Virginia Beach’s East Coast Surfing Championship on Aug. 25 and Lockn’ Festival, taking place Aug. 26 in Arrington, Virginia.

Matisyahu’s performance at the Ivy City venue was billed as an intimate evening and did not disappoint. Sporting a casual flannel shirt and jeans, he was joined onstage by Aaron Dugan on guitar and Jason Fraticelli on bass, both members of his regular touring crew.

The night kicked off with a lengthy version of “Step Out Into The Light,” a track off of Matisyahu’s 2017 record “Undercurrent,” which allowed him to showcase his beatboxing skills over Dugan’s heady guitar riffs and Fraticelli’s masterful bass lines.

The trio then treated the crowd to a back-to-back performance of two of the evening’s most awaited tracks, “One Day” and “King Without a Crown.”

For “One Day,” Matisyahu’s three sons — Menachem, Shalom, and Laivy — joined the musicians onstage. The crowd cheered as Shalom performed the song’s first verse, with Menachem topping off the cameo with a beatbox freestyle of his own.

The next highlight came when Matisyahu treated the audience to a memorable performance of his hit song “Jerusalem (if I forget you).” The trio also conjured the artist’s reggae-infused past, performing a short rendition of Bob Marley’s “Running Away.”

Matisyahu intermittently conversed with the crowd throughout the show and seemed to be fully in his element. Joking with audience members, the artist told them not to worry, as some of their song requests are already on the setlist.

The trio capped off the night with “Sunshine,” a fan favorite off of Matisyahu’s 2012 album, “Spark Seeker.” Dugan and Fraticelli remained onstage after the show, taking pictures and conversing with fans as they packed up their gear.

John O’Neill, program director at City Winery DC, said that giving both artists and audience members the chance to appreciate music in a more personable setting is part of the venue’s mission.

“It’s one thing to hang out in a field with 10,000 people,” O’Neill said. “It’s another to see a really good artist playing right in front of you.”

Patty Hurtarte, a resident of Gaithersburg, Maryland, said she cherished the opportunity to see Matisyahu perform live after years of listening to his music.

“I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I knew his music from back when he first started, but this is the first time that I’m seeing him perform live.”

According to Dugan, the touring musicians equally enjoyed the downtempo evening.

With six studio albums and four live albums under his belt, Matisyahu has leveraged his early fame to build a devout following. His first live album, “Live at Stubbs,” recorded in Austin, Texas in 2005, solidified his reputation as a unique live performer.

By Anis Modi


Anis Modi is a staff reporter for Kol HaBirah. Born and raised in Israel, he currently writes for several DC-based publications while pursuing his master’s degree at American University.

Narrowing the Window of Escape

Written by Marvin Pinkert on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

On Aug. 19, Nicholas Fessenden delivered a lecture to a packed room of 83 attendees at the Jewish Museum of Maryland entitled “Immigration in the Age of Houdini: 1880 to 1924.” The lecture was held in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibit, “Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.”

Broadcasting’s Forgotten Giant

Written by Larry Shor on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

At one time, he was a gigantic star of radio and television. His programs were on the air for hours every day. He was a beloved and trusted presence for decades, and had tens of millions of fans. He used the fame and power of his career, which began right here in the Greater Washington area, to open previously closed doors to Jewish and black artists. And then, at the height of it all, one ill-advised incident caused his popularity to slowly erode and his presence to fade away. The name Arthur Godfrey is now generally unknown — broadcasting’s forgotten giant.

Re-Joyce! Performs at Chabad of Northern Virginia

Written by Kol HaBirah Staff on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

On Sunday, Aug. 19, in Fairfax, Virginia, musical group Re-Joyce! performed for the first gathering of “Art & Soul,” an inspirational new women’s program at Chabad of Northern Virginia. A monthly program brought to the community by the Jewish Learning Initiative (JLI) Rosh Chodesh Society, “Art & Soul” is designed to explore Judaism’s insights into the arts and how they beautify and transform our lives, one brushstroke at a time.

Re-Joyce! is a group of Jewish women whose love of music and Judaism brought them together to perform works by Jewish composers in a broad range of genres — from Broadway to classical to Chassidic melodies. Experienced pianist, music teacher, and choral director Joyce Friedman leads the group, which includes Cindy Cohen on flute, Nessyah Buder on saxophone, and Miriam Albright on vocals.

For more information about the “Art & Soul” program, contact Rebbetzin Raizel at (571) 279-2586.

 By Kol HaBirah Staff

An Evening With Alfred H. Moses

Written by C.M. Ransome on . Posted in Arts & Entertainment

The story of former U.S. Ambassador to Romania Alfred H. Moses is a unique one: It’s a tale of a young lawyer with the American Jewish Committee who was thrust into a life he didn’t expect. On July 12, guests packed the sanctuary of Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C., to listen to an exchange between Moses, who is also chairman of UN Watch, and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.