Chapel Hill: Community

Beth El to host Yiddish Songfest Sunday

DURHAM Beth El Synagogue will host its fifth annual Yiddish songfest at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Proceeds from the concert, known as “What’s Not to Like,” will go to Urban Ministries of Durham.

This year’s performers include 13 singers and four instrumentalists. Most of the songs are folk songs, but a few are of 20th century theatrical or cabaret origin. Some old, some newer, some sad, some happy and one or two with a bit of comedy.

The music is not klezmer. Singers will be accompanied by piano, two violins and viola da gamba.

The two violinists are Jenny Li and Michael Lin, Duke undergraduates. Fred Thomsen comes down from Maryland each year to play viola da gamba. He used to be at UNC but moved to Johns Hopkins.

Gary Berman, a Durham lawyer, plays the piano and arranges most of the music.

Of the singers, Jane Peppler is a professional musician and a fixture on the Triangle music scene. Karen Kumin also makes her living as a singer; she is a cantor for Yavneh synagogue in Raleigh. Two other singers, Suzie Bolotin and Susan Cohen, have sung professionally.

Other singers are David Fleischer, who works for the City of Durham; Amy Rosenthal, medical director of the federal prison hospital at Butner; and Steve Cassell, a trained cantor. Both Cassell and Nancy Rocamora sing with the Choral Society of Durham.

Shana Barbieri and Rabbi Daniel Greyber of Beth El are also among the singers.

Sheva Zucker will emcee the concert. She learned both English and Yiddish as a child and is a Yiddish teacher, translator, editor and scholar.

A transliteration and an English translation of the Yiddish lyrics will be provided.

Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Call 919-682-7468 or email for tickets or more information.

Beth El is located at 1004 Watts St. in Durham.

Correspondent Flo Johnston