Choirs and dancers from a variety of religious institutions and ethnicities will come together to perform at an interfaith concert for peace at Congregation Neve Shalom on March 19.
Hazzan Sheldon Levin of Neve Shalom is co-coordinator of the program and co-director of Makhelat Hamercaz Jewish Choir of Central New Jersey, one of the performing groups.
“Last year I organized an interfaith concert here with Makhelat Hamercaz, a gospel choir, and Indian dancers that had a huge turnout,” he said. “This year the interfaith clergy association asked me to expand it so I reached out to churches and others and received a wonderful response.”
The concert, sponsored by the Metuchen-Edison Interfaith Clergy Association, will feature gospel, synagogue, church, and Chinese choirs, and Indian dancers. Although admission is free, a basket will be passed around for donations for the homeless and needy in the community.
“Whether we are Turkish or Chinese, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, or Muslim we all need some peace in our lives,” said Levin, adding a highlight will be ending the entertainment with the combined choirs singing “Let There be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin with Me.”
Association president Rabbi David Vaisberg of Temple Emanu-El in Edison said the organization was interested in bringing sectors of its very diverse community together because “we find music is really a universal language.”
“It is something that is a part of all traditions and we felt it was a way of motivating and bringing people together with all the craziness that is going on in our nation,” he explained.
Rev. Vernon Kohlmann of St. Cecilia’s R.C. Church in Iselin, the program’s other coordinator, said in addition to providing “a sense of community,” the program will provide “a sense of commonality.”
“We have a lot in common and we should appreciate all those values and strengths, whether we are from a mosque, temple, or church, and the commonality of music can bring the community as a whole together even if its’s just for an hour or so,” he told NJJN. “We have more in common than differences and one thing we all have in common is our humanity, and we have to treasure that.”
Other performers include Centenary United Methodist Church Unity Choir of Metuchen; Edison Chinese Chorus; First Presbyterian Church of Iselin choirs; combined choirs of Emanu-El and Neve Shalom; New Hope Baptist Church gospel choir, Metuchen; Nrityopaasana [Hindu] School of Dance, Edison; Peace Island Institute [Turkish] Youth Group; Second Baptist Church, Metuchen; St. Cecilia Contemporary Choir; and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church Choir of Metuchen.