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Adam on arts and culture

This month, JUF News debuts a new arts and culture column.

Davis Adam November image
This month, JUF News debuts a new arts and culture column, written by Adam Davis, the founder and executive director of KFAR Jewish Arts Center, a leading presenter and advocate of contemporary Jewish arts, music, and culture programs in and around Chicago. 

The Jewish month whose midst runs into November is referred to as Mar Cheshvan owing to its absence of holidays. For Chicagoans, however, it is notably filled with a dazzling array of internationally themed Jewish music and cultural events. Just a small sampling takes us to Spain, Ukraine, Germany, and, of course, Israel. There’s no need for a passport, just an open mind and a love of great music.

Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Old Town School of Folk Music  Jerusalem native Guy Mendilow, who takes to the stage of the Lincoln Square institution, has appeared previously in Chicago, notably at the KFAR Jewish Arts Center and the Chicago World Music Festival. Mendilow and his eclectic multi-ethnic ensemble will use this concert to explore the journey of Sephardic Jewry through a program of Ladino language songs taking the listener from Spain, Bosnia, Greece, and finally Israel. Mendilow’s childhood was immersed in the language, as he attended school in a surviving pocket of Ladino speakers in Jerusalem as a boy. The ensemble reimagines these melodies with novel instrumentation, tales of sailors and the seas, love lost, and the intrigue of royalty through rich storytelling. The performance begins at 8:30 p.m. in the Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall at 4544 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

Monday, Nov. 12 at City Winery  -  Renowned composer, performer and Israeli icon David Broza returns to Chicago for another of his flamenco-tinged concerts fusing English, Hebrew, and Spanish motifs. This is his first ticketed show in Chicago since the release of his 2011 album, Third Language (Safa Shlishit). Comprised of 15 new songs, it was his first studio album of new, solely Hebrew songs in nearly a decade. Its power and subtlety show why the 57-year-old musician and songwriter remains a vital force and an important cultural ambassador for Israel. Over his 35 year career, Broza has released over two dozen albums, many of which have gone platinum. The concert set list will likely feature selections from his 2010 album Night Dawn: The Unpublished Poetry of Townes Van Zandt, which Broza set to original compositions as well as his classic hits “Yihye Tov” and Mitachat Lsshamayim.” Broza has famously performed atop the ancient mountain fortress Masada, captured for two live albums and a PBS concert film and has been a tireless advocate of peace, tolerance and Israeli cross-cultural relations, notably with Palestinians and Spanish artists. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph Street, Chicago.

Friday, Nov. 16 at Music Institute of Chicago -  Contemporary chamber music fans are in for a treat as the work of Israeli-born composer Chaya Czernowin is featured at Music Institute of Chicago this month. Czernowin is Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music at Harvard University. She studied composition at the Tel Aviv Rubin Academy of Music and later at institutions in Germany and Japan. Her uniquely modern chamber and orchestral compositions have been performed all over the world, reflecting the interconnectedness and rootlessness of her own cosmopolitan, multi-national experience. Czernowin’s haunting opera “Pnima…ins Innere” debuted in 2000 in Munich dealt with the trauma of communicating the experience of the Holocaust and won the Bavarian Theater Prize. This concert, taking place at Nichols Concert Hall at 1490 Chicago Avenue in Evanston, features Ensemble Dal Niente conducted by Czernowin herself will feature several of her chamber compositions, including Afatsim, Sahaf and Winter Songs III: Roots and the world premiere of The Last Leaf.

Sunday, Nov. 18 atBeth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah -  Cantor Pavel Roytman leads B’Kol Echad - In One Voice: A Musical Journey of Sound and Soul. Thismulti-faceted program features Cantor Roytman’s own considerable voice and cantorial repertoire, complimented by classical, klezmer, and a capella ensembles. Ukranian-born cello soloist Nazar Dzhuryn will perform, as will the Campanella Children's Choir and members of the Tum Balalaika Band. Chicago a cappella, fresh from their tribune to Chicago’s beloved synagogue composer Max Lewandowski, will also perform selections in what will surely be a vocal music treat for anyone who appreciates chazzanut. The program is at 4:00 p.m. at the synagogue’s sanctuary, 3220 Big Tree Lane, Wilmette.

This is but a sampling of the many wonderful Jewish music, arts and cultural programs going on in Chicago during the month of November, and just musical ones at that. To explore all the many offerings available visit KFAR Jewish Arts Center’s online community cultural calendar at

For future arts suggestions and feedback, e-mail Adam at


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