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Pesach concert to showcase song and text
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Pesach concert to showcase song and text

Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News

Two local clergy are chairing a pre-Passover concert at the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that will explore how text and music interact in music for the holiday.

“Usually you go to a concert for the music, not the text,” said Cantor Meredith Greenberg of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield. “In this case, we are highlighting the conversation between the text and the music.”

Cochairing the concert with Greenberg is Ariann Weitzman, assistant rabbi and director of congregational learning at Bnai Keshet in Montclair.

Greenberg will be among the featured performers at the concert, taking place Wednesday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. Her presentation, with Cantor Lisa B. Siegel, admissions director of the Academy of Jewish Religion, will be an improvisation on “Shirat HaYam,” “Song of the Sea.”

The event will benefit AJR, where both Greenberg and Ariann received ordination.

Also on the program is new music by Frank London, who will perform an instrumental piece inspired by a text on “Eliahu Hanavi” and works by Ronen Itzik, Marty Ehrlich, Rob Schwimmer, Zack Lober, and Zoe B. Zak. Spoken word performances will be offered by Arthur Strimling, Rabbi Jill Hammer, Rabbi Hanniel Levenson, Trisha Arlin, and Tehila Wise.

Meeting with NJJN at Bluestone Coffee Company in Montclair on a recent Friday afternoon, Greenberg and Weitzman described their desire to “create a concert experience that marks a departure from what they’ve done in years past,” as the cantor put it.

“We wanted to show the relationship between rabbis and cantors at AJR — that’s what makes it different from other seminaries,” said Weitzman. “All the students study together.”

The concert at the Museum at Eldridge Street, housed in the landmark synagogue that was fully restored in 2007, will model this interaction between rabbi and cantor.

“There’s no expectation we’re going to come into a model where the cantor does all the singing and the rabbi does all the talking,” said Weitzman. “In fact, [at AJR] rabbinical students are taught to lead tefilla and cantorial students have to teach.”

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