- This event has passed.
Heritage Shabbat; musical premiere of “To Bigotry, No Sanction: An American Jewish Cantata”
March 3 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Composer Jonathan Comisar premieres an American Jewish Cantata; “To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington’s Letter to the Jews.” Rabbi Sussman gives the sermon,
“A House of Prayer for All People.”
In honor of its 170th Anniversary, Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel presents the world premiere of “To Bigotry, No Sanction: An American Jewish Cantata,” based on President George Washington’s 1790 letter to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island. The piece will be performed as part of the synagogue’s 170th Celebration and Heritage Shabbat on Friday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m. The piece, composed by New York City-based Cantor Jonathan Comisar, was commissioned by Keneseth Israel to promote the importance of creating new Jewish music, and to affirm the continued importance of Washington’s letter which is known for its bold assertion that America is a place that will give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
This late 18th-century letter represents a historic watershed and departure from the past; not only does it reaffirm full citizenship for the Jews, but fully rejects anti-Semitism of all kinds and urges separation of Church and State. Comisar’s music highlights excerpts of the famous letter with an intergenerational choir, solo voices, and a chamber ensemble (french horn, piccolo, violin, piano, and percussion). Its music has eclectic sources and inspirations: ancient Jewish cantillation of the writings of the Prophets, colonial fife and drum marching music, and an overall contemporary classical music idiom. The composition also includes a Hebrew setting of V’yashvu ish tachat gafno, v’tachat t’einato, v’ein macharid. (“And every man shall sit beneath his vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid”), a quotation from the prophet Micah. Part of the famous biblical passage is also translated into several other languages, representing the mosaic of American immigrant history.
While this piece has Jewish historical significance, ultimately the message is contemporary, American and universal. In short, the United States strives to be a country where “bigotry is given no sanction and persecution no sanction” by the government.
The Cantata was commissioned by KI Cantor, Amy E. Levy; historical consult by Senior Rabbi Lance J. Sussman; musical history by KI Choral Director, Hazzan David Tilman; along with KI organist, Andrew Senn.