By ALAN SMASON
For the first time in its hallowed history, the sounds of Cajun music emanated from inside the sanctuary at Touro Synagogue as part of its annual Jazz Fest Shabbat celebration. The music of the Lost Bayou Ramblers with special guest performer, clarinetist and saxophonist Aurora Nealand, filled the sanctuary with their traditional and original Cajun music.
Cantor Kevin Margolius, sporting a specially-decorated white set of tails was attentive to every portion of the service, adding new selections to the liturgy that is sung by attendees, the Touro Synagogue Choir and supported by guest performers such as Nealand and the Lost Bayou Ramblers.
Formed in 1999, the Lost Bayou Ramblers feature Louis Michot on fiddle and vocals; Andre Michot on accordion and steel guitar; Eric Heigle on drums and acoustic guitar; Jonny Campos on electric guitar; Bryan Webre on bass and percussion and Kirkland Middleton on drums and percussion.
In addition to Margolius, who led the worship service, leadership was also provided by Senior Rabbi Alexis Berk and Associate Rabbi Todd Silverman. This was Berk’s 11th Jazz Fest Shabbat and her last as the spiritual leader of the Reform temple before she leaves for her new position as the Senior Rabbi at Temple Solel in Carmel By the Sea, CA.
The Jazz Fest Shabbat was founded by former Touro Synagogue Cantor Stephen Dubov of blessed memory.
After all but the concluding prayers were recited, the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Nealand were invited to perform for a half hour.
Final prayers were concluded with “Adon Olam” sung to the jazz classic “When the Saints Go Marching In.” As usual, the Panorama jazz Band led by Ben Schenck with guests pianist Adam matasar and bass player Josh Gouzy provided background music. As music director, Terry Maddox led the 40-member Touro Synagogue choir with several guest singers.
Following the second line into the social hall, a dessert reception was held.
Co-chairs for the event were Aaron Ahlquist and Richard Cahn. Former chair David Hammer led a group of 13 others on the Jazz Fest Shabbat Committee.
Photos from the event are here: