By ALAN SMASON
The ninth annual Jewish Children’s Regional Service (JCRS) gala with a “Roots” theme turned out to to be both an opportunity to honor its benefactors and the recipients of its largesse.
The Jewish Roots of Rhythm and Blues on Saturday, Feb.1, in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel Riverside gave JCRS the podium to honor members of the Beerman family first. The Beermans have been connected as a family to JCRS for seven decades.
As guests at the soiree learned, that relationship began in 1924 when six young Beerman siblings entered the former Jewish Children’s Home that was the predecessor of JCRS. Since that time the Beermans have become closely associated with the organization, many of whom have served in positions of responsibility on the JCRS board including Marc Beerman, who served as JCRS president from 2015-2017.
Four recipients of JCRS educational scholarships formed the foundation of a quintet of musicians that provided entertainment for the evening. Trumpet player Joshua Dolney, double bassist Caroline Samuels, violinist Basil Alter and pianist Joshua Sadinsky joined with drummer Bruce Miller, a past president of JCRS.
All of the musicians received assistance from JCRS for their college studies and in the case of Samuels, was also able to garner financial assistance to enable her to attend Henry S. Jacobs camp.
The musical group provided the audience with a number of well-known pieces culled from the Great American Songbook.
Originally, the “Jewish Roots of Rhythm and Blues” theme was intended to highlight a connection to a specific genre of music that was made famous by several New Orleans musicians and others nationally. Led by development director Mark Rubin, the JCRS team altered the evening’s program to enable the group to play more recognizable tunes that would not require much improvisation, a technique not generally employed by many of their more classically-trained members.
The annual gala has become one of the largest gatherings in the New Orleans Jewish community each year and provides significant fundraising for JCRS.
Photos from the event can be viewed in the gallery below.