Best of Both Worlds

Last Sunday Adath hosted Nefesh Mountain, a musical group that integrates bluegrass music with Jewish themes and texts. It was amazing to see close to 200 people in our sanctuary, lit up for a concert, dancing to the music that combines the best of American and Jewish culture.

We are now halfway through the first season of Adath’s newest initiative, MOSAIC: A Center for Arts, Culture and Ideas, and it’s a good time to assess how things are going. My vision for MOSAIC when I first conceived of it was to find a place at Adath where we can explore what it means to be Jewish, American and human at the same time.

Nefesh Mountain is a perfect group for MOSAIC because their vision merges so well with ours. They believe that bluegrass is fundamentally spiritual music, tied to the eternal concerns of all people even if it may have formed in the context of a different religious tradition. At the same time, Jewish liturgy and text can add so much to the ever evolving bluegrass genre.

I am so glad that the friendship Doni Zasloff (one-half of the Nefesh Mountain duo, along with her husband Eric Lindberg) and I forged many years ago at a children’s Internet company has born beautiful fruit: first when I was able to bring the group to our Kallah retreat last year and now with last Sunday’s concert.

Our goal with MOSAIC is for Adath to be a cultural center, a place where people gather to experience art and ideas that move them. Our first program this season, a political discussion with journalist Sandra Westfall, was also a great success. We have seen Adath full of members and non-members, Jews and non-Jews, who are looking for a stimulating program.

Synagogues in the 21st century have to rethink their mission. We cannot only provide the traditional services of prayer and religious education. Instead we have to make ourselves relevant institutions that can thrive in a constantly changing environment.

MOSAIC is our answer to the challenges of American Judaism in 2018 and I want to thank Brenda Solomon and the entire committee for all their hard work in helping create a successful first season. I hope you will join us for our next program January 13th at 10:30 AM as our very own member Kim Pimley shares her amazing story in a talk entitled “The Blessings of My Heart Transplant.” You won’t want to miss it!

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