July 10, 2024
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Eitan Katz Concert for Tomchei Shabbos Draws Hundreds

A capacity crowd gathered at the Chabad House at Rutgers University on Motzei Shabbat, December 25 to see Eitan Katz live in concert, with up-and-coming musical star Ben Lutz as the opening act.

The doors opened at 7:30 p.m., with registration overseen by volunteers Irene and Andrew Cohen of Highland Park. Irene, a regular Tomchei Shabbos volunteer, was happy to work at the concert and “volunteered” her husband for the event.

Rochelle and Ralph Dessau of Edison were excited to come out after all the COVID closings and enjoy live entertainment. Many in the audience had heard Katz lead services at Congregation Ohr Torah over Shabbat, and were eagerly anticipating hearing him again.

Michael Kornfeld of Highland Park welcomed everyone to enjoy the evening of beautiful music for a great cause. Sponsorship by the law firm of Epstein and Ostrove in memory of Shmuel Aharon Ben Nachum and Yosef Yehuda Ben Tzvi meant that every dollar raised would go directly to help those who are unable to meet the basic needs of Shabbat.

Lutz, a former Edison resident, opened the concert with a shout-out to his former neighbors and a set of songs that had the audience dancing in the aisles. He debuted a niggun he composed, “With the help of Hashem,” that was extremely well received.

Kornfeld then welcomed Katz to the stage. “When Moshiach comes, he will be singing Eitan Katz songs,” Kornfeld said. Backed by six musicians, Katz delighted the audience with songs, niggunim, dialogue and special effects during a set that lasted nearly 90 minutes. The audience gladly joined in by singing along. Katz introduced each song with background and made audience members feel as if they had a personal connection to each note.

Katz spoke about his love of music, the influence of Reb Shlomo Carlebach and Chabad on niggunim, and the joy of creating niggunim when the words and music magically come together. “What makes Jewish music specifically Jewish music?” he asked. It is the words that are being said—if the musician doesn’t feel the awe and inspiration of the words they are singing, they shouldn’t be in the business. Jewish music originated in the Beit HaMikdash and has inherent holiness which should come from the right place in the heart.

Katz lightheartedly introduced one song with a play on classic jokes. “Knock, knock,” he said, “Who’s there?” asked the audience. Katz replied: “Boruch,” and the song began as the crowd replied with the expected “Boruch Hu?”

When the concert ended, the audience was in no hurry to leave. Marc Hanfling of Edison summed up the evening: “Great music for a great cause.” Volunteer Elie Haller Salomon, wife of concert co-organizer Awi Salomon, was happy to see people from the entire Edison, Highland Park, East Brunswick communities and beyond join together to support such a good cause.

The Tomchei Shabbos concerts are an annual event, with each one bringing a sense of excitement and something special to the community. The organizers are already in talks for next year’s event, but were sworn to secrecy and would not divulge any clues.

Tomchei Shabbos of Middlesex County has been helping families in need since 2009 by providing Shabbat and Yom Tov food packages. Today’s challenging economic climate has led to more families in the Highland Park, Edison and East Brunswick communities needing help. Partner with them by visiting http://tomcheimc.org/ to make a donation or volunteer.

By Deborah Melman

 

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