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KlezmerFest Was Music, Dancing, Food, Fun

klezmerfest

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]

Temple Shalom kicked of the celebration of its double chai (36th) anniversary year in grand style with KlezmerFest 2012 on Sunday afternoon, October 14.

The festivities began with Lost Tribe. This local klezmer group, featuring Aaron Boaz on violin, Kato Wilbur on bass, Aviv Naamani on guitar, Mark Perelmuter on clarinet, Carol Savkovich on concertina and vocalist Fran Weinstock has matured greatly over the past year. Their performance got the afternoon off to a good start.

The Java Jews from Des Moines, IA, returned to KlezmerFest for a wonderful encore performance. Temple Shalom’s KlezmerFest founder Kathy Karr first met Java Jews trumpeter Mark Finkelstein on a Partnership 2Gether trip to the Western Galilee, and their love of Klezmer music continues to draw them together.

Karr, Cantors David Lipp and Sharon Hordes and Rabbi Gaylia Rooks all added their talents to selected pieces with the first two bands. While most of the music this year was unduplicated, the groups don’t compare playlists before the performance, so there are always at least two or three songs that pop up a couple of times during KlezmerFest. This year, Rabbi Rooks, singing with Lost Tribe and Cantor Lipp, singing with the Java Jews, both chose the Yiddish classic Az Der Rebbe Est. The song, which tells the story of a rabbi whose students emulate everything he does, lends itself to interpretation, so the two singers didn’t choose exactly the same verses and Rabbi Rooks even added one: when the rabbi gives a sermon, the students sleep.

The highlight of the afternoon was IndyKlez. Making their debut appearance at KlezmerFest, vocalist Larry Francer really knows how to work the crowd. At one point, he called Ruthie Passamaneck up to the stage so he could sing to her.

Passamaneck, who spoke to Francer before IndyKlez took the stage, tells it best: “When the man came in, I asked him if he was going to play ‘My Yiddishe Mama” and he said he didn’t have it. I said, ‘That’s O.K. Thank you,” and I sat back down. Then, in the middle of the performance, he waved at me to come up front. He put me in a chair and sang to me, then he picked me up and we danced. Then he set me back down and he gave me a kiss.”

“I was really surprised,” Passamaneck added, “because I didn’t know that this was going to happen to me. It was a thrill.”

The thrill wasn’t just for Passamaneck. She was such a good sport and had such a big smile on her face that she had the entire room cheering her on and applauding. After all, Francer was singing “Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen” to her, declaring that she is the most wonderful woman in the world.

Passamaneck wasn’t the only one to dance that afternoon, because it’s impossible to have that much klezmer music without some dancing. An Israeli dance group from Temple Shalom gave a brief performance between acts and there were several times when audience members got up to dance around the room.

KlezmerFest Chair and the day’s emcee Helene Kramer Longton kept things moving along throughout the program. And if that weren’t enough, there were raffles, plenty of food and even flu shots.

“With our passion to keep this beautiful genre of Jewish music alive, the members of Temple Shalom see KlezmerFest as a musical mitzvah,” Longton said. “We were delighted to welcome members of every Jewish congregation and organization in our city to Temple Shalom to sing, dance and nosh. KlezmerFest is meant to bring Louisville Jews and beyond together. It is and always will be a community-wide cultural event.”

In addition to Longton, members of the KlezmerFest committee were Rob Gates, Kathy Karr, Aviv Naamani, Judy Berzof and Linda Wilson.

KlezmerFest 2012 is underwritten by Jewish Hospital Healthcare Services as part of its generous commitment to events and programming in Louisville that support and perpetuate Jewish culture, and the Sara and Adolph van der Walde Fund.

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