Congregation Shir Shalom of Westchester and Fairfield Counties (46 Peaceable Street, Ridgefield, CT) will host a special “Spirituals Shabbat” Service honoring the memory of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at 7PM on Friday, January 18, 2019.
This is the 16th year Congregation Shir Shalom has hosted a Spirituals Shabbat with the Serendipity Chorale of Norwalk, led by Gigi Van Dyke. This year the Serendipity Chorale and Congregation Shir Shalom’s choir will be joined by special guests: the KEYS Chorus of Bridgeport, CT.
The KEYS program (Kids Empowered by Your Support) empowers underserved inner-city children from Bridgeport, CT through one-to-one instrument lessons and group music instruction. Led by KEYS founder, Rob Silvan, the KEYS Chorus includes 15 students, grades 4-12.
The Serendipity Chorale, led by Gigi Van Dyke, has been sharing music in the community for over 40 years. Pete Seeger was an early fan and chose them to sing his music on numerous occasions for the Clearwater Festival.
“Congregation Shir Shalom is thrilled to welcome both choruses to help uplift our worship and join us in remembering Reverend King’s work and legacy. Bringing Jewish and traditional spirituals together in a worship service has made this a unique and beloved service,” said Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray, musical leader of Congregation Shir Shalom for nearly twenty years.
Cantor Katchko-Gray met Gigi Van Dyke in the early 1990’s in Norwalk following an incident of antisemitism. The two musicians jumped at the opportunity for their communities to spend time together and learn about their respective musical traditions. Their first concert, “Musical Tapestry…Common Threads- A Spiritual Celebration of African-American and Jewish Music,” took place in Norwalk, CT in 1993. Their musical friendship and relationship continues to blossom and grow with the 16th Annual Spirituals Shabbat service.
In reflecting on the annual celebration of Dr. King, Rabbi David Reiner of Congregation Shir Shalom shared, “Reverend King lived and preached a message of ‘Unconditional Love’ for all people. When I feel tested by bigotry and symbols of hatred and antisemitism in our world, I am reminded of King’s message of Unconditional Love, that light and love and learning inspire us to overcome darkness, hatred, and ignorance. I look forward to finding inspiration from the same uplifting Spirituals that inspired Reverend King’s ministry of hope and love, witnessing the power of diversity and love.”
The 16th annual Spirituals Shabbat is open to all in the community.