The annual HASC concert, entitled “A Time For Music,” has always held a special place in my calendar and heart. Although I haven’t gone to every HASC concert over the past 37 years, I have been to probably at least 15 to 18 concerts over the years as a HASC counselor, a HASC sibling, a HASC staff alumnus, a fundraising consultant to HASC and, in more recent years, as a HASC parent and supporter. The concert always takes place on one of the first Sundays in January and it’s always on my calendar, whether I go or not. It’s one of HASC’s main fundraisers and I know that HASC’s leadership has long felt that the concert helped get HASC on the communal map. The concert is one of the biggest annual music shows in the Jewish music world and I don’t think anything comes close to it. No other concert that I know of has such a diverse lineup of stars and singers, duets and trios, and so much Jewish music, it’s hard to believe.
This year’s HASC concert, which took place this past Sunday night, for the second year in a row at Newark’s NJPAC, was no exception, and was filled with stars including Avraham Fried, Shulem Lemmer, Benny Friedman, Mordechai Shapiro, Baruch Levine, Alex Clare, Shmuel, DJ Matt Dubb, a Shlomo Carlebach hologram, a beautiful tribute of Dedi songs with
Dedi’s son Shai Graucher, who flew in from Israel, and a musical play with Abie Rotenberg performed by Chaim Brown and Leiby Weider.
It was a huge production and on a scale that few other concerts in the Jewish world attempt. The concert offered something for everyone watching and participating. It was also powerful and inspiring to hear the huge pledges of $250K and $500K that were being made at the concert, which only contributed to the sense that the music and the performers were uniting to make something special. It was a very powerful evening and I am sure many left the concert hall on what I would call a “HASC high.”
What was different for me about this year’s concert was that I, along with my son and current HASC camper, Zev, was invited to attend the pre-concert dinner, which was held a block away from NJPAC at the historic and elegant Robert Treat Hotel. The hotel is owned by the Berger Organization, and led by Miles Berger, who also served as the HASC concert chairman and spoke onstage (and is also pictured on the cover of this week’s paper). The Berger family has owned the Robert Treat Hotel for many years, and as Newark’s downtown area has come back and been revitalized over the past few decades, this beautiful hotel has also seen incredible new life.
In full disclosure, the Robert Treat Hotel is a current advertiser of our paper and its special owners are very hopeful that the hotel will soon be hosting many more Jewish events ranging from weddings to bar mitzvahs to organizational dinners. I have already been to a number of New Jersey Jewish Business Alliance luncheons at the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom over the years but haven’t been to any in the magnificent Tri-State Ballroom, which is one of New Jersey’s largest ballrooms. Mr. Berger was so proud of how beautiful the Tri-State ballroom was decorated and looked at last year’s HASC pre-concert dinner, that he invited me to come to this year’s dinner to see how gorgeous the big ballroom looked this time. And he was right; the ballroom, the lighting, the decor, were all put together so incredibly and impressively, and I think everyone who was there in that room saw the uniqueness of the space. Oh…and the food was quite good also, but it was the unique space that made for a memorable experience.
Mr. Berger also invited me to the post-concert dessert reception which took place at the hotel’s smaller Crystal Ballroom, but I wasn’t able to attend that as it was already too late for my son to stay. However, I heard that it was a true post-show afterparty with all of the performers gathering there and I heard from a number of reliable sources that some meaningful l’chaims were made. I am sorry I missed it.
Last but not least, special kudos to Meir Popowitz of The Jewish Link, who in addition to his work for our paper, is also an accomplished singer and performer in his own right. He was standing on the stage and singing in the accompanying choir for virtually the entire concert. I don’t understand how he was able to stand for that long.
By Moshe Kinderlehrer, Co-Publisher, Jewish Link – Expanded Edition