By Deb Silverthorn
The halls at The Legacy Midtown Park will soon come alive with the sound of music again. Sponsored by the Aaron Family JCC, Mark Kreditor will return at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 17, for one night of “Jews, Pews and Blues.” On six Thursdays starting May 18 at 10:45 a.m. and continuing on May 25, June 1, 15, 22 and 29, he will present “The Jews of Hollywood.”
Kreditor will be “tracing the roots of ‘Ain’t Necessarily So’ and ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ from the shtetls and chazzanim of yesteryear to the greatest blues artists ever. Really, it makes it cool to go to shul,” he said.
Through “Jews, Pews and Blues,” Kreditor traces the songs and songwriters that are beloved from decades past and links their sound to that of many synagogue prayers.
“I keep learning and unearthing stories and songwriters all the time. The fathers of Irving Berlin, who wrote a little tune called ‘God Bless America,’ and Harold Arlen, with more than 500 songs to his name, were among the best chazzans,” said the Dallas community crooner.
“Jule Styne studied with amazing chazzanim years ago and he taught Shirley Temple, Faye Raye and many more to sing. He wrote for Ethel Merman, Carol Channing and Barbra Streisand and it all began with the music of our people. There are only eight notes [in an octave], but these people created the foundation of the American songbook,” he added.
Kreditor’s “Hollywood Jews” class explores the songs of the screens — large and small — and how our ancestors went from Poland to the Polo Lounge in one generation. There have been the magnates Louis B. Mayer, the Warner Brothers, Carl Laemmle and Samuel Goldwyn; then Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Cecil B. DeMille and Steven Spielberg; the Douglases — Kirk, then Michael; Randy Newman, one of four generations now making music. Many more created a new business, one that was filled with Jews on- and off-screen.
“The Legacy Midtown Park is excited to be offering yet another one of the talented Mark Kreditor’s informational courses to our residents and the Dallas Jewish community,” said Kathryn Harp, The Legacy Midtown Park director of lifestyles. “His evening productions are fun, interactive and always leave us wanting more. To say we are looking forward to more is an understatement. Mark’s infectious personality has a way of pulling the community together and it is sure to be a full house.”
Kreditor has taught classes and shared programs at synagogues and churches around the community, he plays piano for the annual Zimriyah musical performances of Ann and Nate Levine Academy, where his daughters went to school and where his granddaughters attend now.
A member of the board of directors of The Legacy Midtown Park, and the son of Midtown Park resident Marlene, Kreditor has made the Max and Nolan Glazer Family Sanctuary a second home almost since the building opened in 2021. He’s taught about the Jews of comedy and Christmas and about the music of those spared during the Holocaust; he’s led singalongs which have all guests chiming in, humming along and tapping their toes.
“Mark is it. He always brings 110% and he always has the room jumping,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, director of Israel engagement and Jewish living at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center (JCC). “The Legacy Midtown Park provides a great stage for its residents, and for our whole community, to come in and be together and Mark is the bandleader who connects us all.”
For more information and registration (community members must register through the JCC), call 214-239-7128. Regarding “Jews, Pews and Blues,” visit jccdallas.org/event/jews-pews-and-blues and for “Jews of Hollywood,” visit jccdallas.org/event/the-jews-of-hollywood.