By James Russell
Special to the TJP
A city reckoning with its deep racial and economic inequities may need more than Jewish music to bring it together. But a cantorial performance at a Methodist church scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, organized by a Jewish Fort Worth couple, at least will bring the community together for one afternoon.
Karen and Kal Silverberg organized the upcoming Community Concert for Peace shortly after the cantorial search committee of Congregation Ahavath Sholom, of which Kal serves on the board, selected Andres Levy as the visiting cantor for the High Holidays. Levy, who is making his Texas debut, is chanting the liturgy for High Holiday services..
But the community concert is at the neighboring Arborlawn United Methodist Church, 5001 Briarlawn Drive. The large church located near both Ahavath Shalom and Congregation Beth El in southwest Fort Worth recently expanded its facilities to include a larger worship hall. The church was one of the first venues the couple approached.
“They were amazingly receptive,” Kal said. “They are well-known for music appreciation in the community.” The church has hosted performances by the Fort Worth Symphony, Fort Worth Civic Orchestra, Texas Boys Choir and others. “The sanctuary is bright and inviting with great acoustics, and new. They would also like to bridge a lot of gaps. We are inviting everyone we know from any facet of what we do.”
By introducing Jewish music to the community, the couple hopes the concert will break down barriers among believers and non-believers of all identities.
“We wanted to be in a nonthreatening, informal and comfortable place where [attendees] may go to a concert any way,” Kal said. “By ‘nonthreatening,’ we mean someone who is not Jewish or affiliated with a synagogue would not feel uncomfortable by going into an unfamiliar place. It’s simply not getting uncomfortable with the unknown. We want the concert to be accessible to all.”
Levy’s biography is diverse enough to promote conversations about diversity. Born in Chile, he now lives in Buenos Aires. He was trained as an architect but has devoted his career to singing. He has performed internationally, including for the past 16 years as a traveling cantor during the High Holidays, in California, Florida and North Carolina. He will sing traditional songs in Hebrew and Ladino. But he also will perform songs, including in English, in more familiar styles, such as Broadway and Big Band.
“We’re broadening the perspective of what Jewish music is,” Karen said. “It is a great opportunity to bring together the greater Fort Worth community, which is not always at peace with one another, for a combined fun, artistic event. We’re talking about community peace, not elsewhere in the world, and coming together for a chance to do something we all enjoy.”
Kal also considers the concert an advancement of the synagogue’s mission.
“Ahavath Shalom means ‘lover of peace.’ It is a continuation of our mission and our very name to extend to this community and a concert for peace,” he said.
Advance tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for children. Tickets at the door are $25 for adults and $12 kids. VIP tickets are $180. Tickets and underwriting opportunities are available online at AhavathSholom.org/concert.