A spiritually rockin' Scholar-in-Residence weekend at COS


The entire community is invited to the Edward S. Ackerman Scholar-in-Residence Weekend at Congregation Ohev Shalom, April 24 and 25, featuring Dan Kaufman and his group Barbez, avant-garde rock musicians who set Roman-Jewish history to a beguiling soundtrack.

"When you're listening to spiritual music," Barbez theremin player Pamelia Kurstin told National Public Radio, "there's something that's calling you to look deeper and ask questions." Barbez guitarist Dan Kaufman did just that once he heard the recordings of the late musicologist Leo Levi, whom Kaufman told NPR is "sort of like the Alan Lomax of Italy." Levi, who died in 1992, captured the unique sounds of the Roman-Jewish community, and many of his findings are collected on the 2001 CD "Italian Jewish Musical Traditions from the Leo Levi Collection." In 2009, Kaufman traveled to Rome to dig deeper, which resulted in Barbez's eclectic 2013 album, "Bella Ciao."

Neither Ashkenazi Jews (descending from Central and Eastern Europe) nor Sephardic Jews (who trace their ancestry to the Iberian Peninsula), Roman Jews have maintained a distinct identity that they trace directly to ancient Israel. Their liturgical music was passed on orally from generation to generation, surviving the Holocaust. In fact, "Bella Ciao" serves as a musical ode to the Italian Resistance during World War II.

Kaufman will share his discoveries-and music-at Congregation Ohev Shalom's Dr. Edward S. Ackerman Scholar-in-Residence Weekend, scheduled for April 24 and 25, 2015. The weekend begins with an Israeli-style dinner Friday evening (contact Meryl Poweski at 407-298-4650 for more information and to make reservations by April 20), followed by traditional Friday-night (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday-morning (9:30 a.m.) Shabbat services, during which Kaufman will engage synagogue attendees with a lively discussion about the fascinating history of the Roman-Jewish community.

On Saturday, April 25, immediately following Mincha/Maariv services at 7 p.m., Kaufman and his bandmates in Barbez will treat the community to a free concert at Congregation Ohev Shalom.

Barbez, formed in the late 1990s in Brooklyn, N.Y., weaves a mosaic of avant-rock, Old World cabaret, contemporary classical, and Eastern European folk music into a uniquely beautiful and personal soundscape.

The synagogue is located at 613 Concourse Parkway South, Maitland, Florida 32751.

The Dr. Edward S. Ackerman Memorial Scholar-in-Residence Weekend is funded by an endowment by Dr. Ackerman's widow, Dr. Shelley Fleet; and their children, Brad, Andrew, and Hillary.

For more information, contact Meryl Poweski at 407-298-4650 or via email at Office@OhevShalom.org.


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