On Sunday, May 28, hundreds of fans came out to hear a concert by the Jewish music superstar Avrham Fried held at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood. The concert, dubbed “Heart and Soul,” was sponsored by the Friendship Circle of Bergen County, with proceeds going toward the support of their many programs to fulfill their mission of “building a better world for children with special needs, one good deed at a time.”
Spanning a career of over 40 years, Fried has entertained audiences internationally with his inspiring compositions in Hebrew, English and Yiddish. Known for his warmth and charm, Fried engaged his audience from his opening song “No Jew Will Be Left Behind” to his closing “Chazak Chazak.” At several junctures throughout the evening, audience members joined together in celebratory dancing circles.
The audience consisted of admirers of all ages who came to the Bergen PAC from communities from throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and even Baltimore. In the audience were children and young adults who benefit from the myriad programs and events of the Friendship Circle of Bergen County. Many were escorted by their teen volunteers from the Jewish day and high schools in and around Bergen County. Their excitement at participating in the event was palpable and truly moving.
Teaneck’s Joey Bodner, who served as the concert chairman, introduced the program. In addition to his accolades for Friendship Circle, he invited the audience to join him in paying tribute to the courageous veterans of war, as was befitting on this Memorial Day weekend. He pointed out that several of the evening’s ushers were veterans, and deserve our thanks. Englewood mayor Michael Wildes offered greetings to the audience and an invitation to sample the local kosher restaurants.
Representing the Friendship Circle was Chevee Szokovski, who serves as the Hebrew School director at Friendship Circle. She suggested that calling the organization a circle, with no beginning or end, reflects the ongoing and nonstop activities offered on behalf of its participants. The circle image also reflects the godly spark within each of these individuals, which knows no boundaries. Furthermore, the circle reflects the mutual giving and receiving of the volunteers and participants, all of whom benefit from the rewarding relationships and bonds formed through their time at Friendship Circle. A new and heartwarming video entitled “The Joys of Friendship” premiered during the evening.
The numerous musical renditions presented by Avraham Fried were accompanied by multi-colored backdrops, many of which reflected the contents of the songs. Among them was artwork by noted Israeli artist Nachshon, whose scenes of Chevron accompanied the song celebrating that City of the Fathers.
After the intermission, Fried was joined onstage by Jewish singing personality Simcha Leiner. The two joined in a cantorial piece in which their voices melded together harmoniously. Leiner then presented several of his own compositions. The accompanying orchestra led by Musical Director Yuval Stupal from Israel, together with representatives from the renowned Maccabeats, added greatly to the magic of the evening.
To be in touch with Rabbi Moshe Grossbaum, executive director of the Friendship Circle of Bergen County and Zeesy Grossbaum, director of the Friendship Circle of Bergen County, visit https://www.bcfriendship.com or call 201-262-7172.
By Pearl Markovitz