Uncommon Styles of Jewish Music Come to Wise Temple

Originally published by The American Israelite in February 2017

For its 2017 musician-in-residence program, taking place the weekend of February 24, Wise Temple welcomes Elana Jagoda and Saul Kaye, a San Francisco-based couple each pioneering a new style of Jewish music: Jagoda, folk, and Kaye, blues. The same weekend, in a separate event, Plum Street Temple places a world-renowned organist at the keys of its historic, 19th-century Rockwern organ for a special occasion that’s open to the general public.

During the weekend-long musician-in-residence program, Jagoda and Kaye will hold a series of joint and individual concerts. Jagoda is an educator, performer, prayer leader, and composer who has released four albums and has had more than 50,000 CDs of her family-centric music distributed nationally. Kaye has toured around the world, including Israel, sharing his innovative genre of Jewish blues. (Think Muddy Waters meets Shlomo Carlebach.) While different stylistically, both Jagoda and Kaye have the same goal when sharing their talents: to shake up and revitalize the genre of Jewish music.

It all begins with Friday night Shabbat worship at Wise Temple, where the duo will perform together during services. A dinner is to follow, for which members are requested to RSVP.

On Saturday, February 25, Kaye presents an afternoon mediation workshop, where he will “explore new and ancient modalities of Jewish spiritual practice through song and meditation,” he said. Later that evening, Kaye hosts a Havdalah especially for Wise Temple’s NextGen group of young professionals ages 21-35. Finally, during religious school on Sunday morning, February 26, Jagoda will lead a family concert appropriate for children in preschool through third grade and their families.

Later that day, at 4:00 PM, the public is welcome to attend another musical performance presented by Wise Temple, in partnership with the Rockwern Foundation and the University of Cincinnati College – Conservatory of Music (CCM): a special organ concert at Plum Street Temple. Craig Cramer, professor of organ at Notre Dame University in Indiana, is one of the most-traveled organists of his generation, having performed in 44 out of 50 states in the U.S., as well as around the world.

Michael Unger, Plum Street’s organist and assistant professor of organ and harpsichord at CCM, previously told this paper that Cramer “is a world-renowned, well-respected artist” and that the concert is “a chance to hear a rare combination of a unique performer, with a unique instrument, in a unique space.” A reception will follow this public event. The community has another chance to hear Plum Street’s rare, 19th-century instrument again on Sunday, April 23, when Unger will lead his own organ concert. Both recitals are in honor of the Temple’s Wise Journey Anniversary Celebrations, recognizing 150 years of Plum Street Temple and 175 years as a congregation.