Jaffe’s Jewish Jive

By Marcia Jaffe | mjaffe@atljewishtimes.com

ARTS-CBH Josh Lesser

Photo by Marcia Jaffe – Bet Haverim Rabbi Josh Lesser settles in to enjoy the concert at Oakhurst Baptist Church.

Congregation Bet Haverim’s chorus, band and strings thrilled more than 300 music lovers March 28 with American and Israeli folk songs, Negro spirituals, and Hollywood tunes contrasting the depths of sorrow with hope for a better world in tandem with the human spirit around the approaching Passover holiday.

The occasion was the Reconstructionist congregation’s annual fundraising spring concert, Together B’yachad, at Oakhurst Baptist Church.

The magnificent harmonies underscored by bow and bass began with a resounding “By the rivers of Babylon, where we sat down and wept as we dreamed of Zion.”

Talented veteran Gayanne Geurin, the music director and narrator, boasted of the CBH mission to extol diverse music as a connection to things that could divide us. “Music tonight is not racial, ethnic, gender-specific, nor interfaith,” she said as she introduced the beautifully stringed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Bet Haverim Rabbi Josh Lesser also dwelled on community: “Every time we get together to bring music to the larger community, it’s a great moment that builds our sense of togetherness.”

ARTS-CBH Gayanne Geurin_Will Robertson by Allison Carter

Photo by Allison Carter – Music director Gayanne Geurin and band director Will Robertson the Congregation Bet Haverim performance March 28.

James Taylor-like Will Robertson, the band director and soloist, performed his composition “We Are Gathered Here Today,” with touching lyrics: “We are only here for one moment; let’s do all we can to fill this world with love.”

Band and chorus members, most of whom have day jobs, were motivated by the audience’s response. “Let’s put the Jew back into jubilee!”

Percussionist Henry Farber said, “I never knew Jewish music could be so fun, invigorating and hip!”

Ruth Einstein, who has a master’s in cello performance, has been with the strings since the band’s inception. She said, “This is still such a pleasurable experience even after years of performance.”

There is always room for humor. Cigar-smoking halftime raffle hawkers and comics chortled, “If we see tuchases in the seat, we’ll kick ’em out.”

As the audience danced in the aisles to the heart-racing triple-time beat of “Hava Nagila,” not many tuchases were left in their seats.