Golden Land Concerts & Connections Inc presents
An electrifying concert celebrating the music and shared experiences of the African American and Jewish communities.
Through music we deepen connections and celebrate differences.
An emotionally captivating theatrical concert featuring a mix of Spiritual, Jazz, Klezmer, and Folk. African American and Jewish Music Meet in Celebration of Two Cultures.
This audience favorite plays annually to sold-out houses in New York, and has performed across the country (Los Angeles, Boca Raton, Denver, Baltimore, Chattanooga) and internationally (Bucharest, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg). The annual concert, a combination of spirituals in English, civil rights songs, Yiddish folk songs, and theatre songs, will see it’s 2024 tour brought to Boca Raton, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Reston, VA. All Yiddish songs will include English translation subtitles.
Conceived in 2010 by Zalmen Mlotek, Soul to Soul has evolved to include updated multimedia imagery and video, curated by Motl Didner, that reflects the ongoing need for unity and healing in our times.
The performances feature: Lisa Fishman (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish), renowned Cantor Magda Fishman (Senior Cantor at B’nai Torah Congregation); Broadway veteran Elmore James (Disney’s Beauty and The Beast on Broadway; Big River); Tony Perry (NYTF’s Shpiel! Shpiel! Shpiel!); and, Daniella Rabbani (Amid Falling Walls, Gimpel Tam, Hershele Ostropolyer, The Golden Land), along with an all-star ensemble including Dmitri Zisl Slepovich, Brian Glassman and Matt Temkin.
The musical ensemble includes Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch, Brian Glassman, and Matt Temkin, with musical direction by Mlotek.
Please note: Cantor Magda Fishman will appear in the Boca Raton and Jacksonville performances. Daniella Rabbani will appear in the Pittsburgh and Reston performances.
Boca Raton, Florida
February 14, 2024
B’nai Torah Congregation
6261 SW 18th Street
February 15, 2024
Jacksonville Jewish Center
3662 Crown Point Rd
February 17, 2024
Hill District’s historic Kaufmann Center
1825 Center Avenue
February 18, 2024
Reston Community Center
2310 Colts Neck Rd.
During the darkest days, we sing. When light shines upon us, we sing. While seeking justice and answers, we sing. This musical tradition is one shared among African Americans and Jews for centuries. It is in the music of Soul to Soul, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day commemoration concert, that we find and give voice to our common experiences: a history of oppression, struggles for justice, finding humor in pain, passion for faith, and joy in community.
To Tony Perry, one of its four veteran performers, “Soul to Soul is an expression of how souls can speak to one another on a deeper level—what separates us is what society highlights, but underneath that are our commonalities.”
Soul to Soul takes audiences on a life-affirming journey from deep oppression to hope, employing centuries of musical traditions of Ashkenazi Jews and African Americans. In the lyrics and music, we deepen connections and celebrate differences.
“It’s an emotionally charged exploration of each community’s joyful, optimistic hopes for the future and the deep mourning for suffering they’ve faced; and interspersed is humor, which is often the only mechanism people have to stand up to their oppressors,” says Motl Didner, Assistant Artistic Director at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.
The continued demonstrations in support of Black lives remind us that our work is far from over. We recall the Civil Rights movement and alliances that Jews and African Americans formed amid calls for justice, and we know the fight must continue until we are all free of the racism and anti-Semitism that threaten to destroy us. The music featured in Soul to Soul illustrates how each of our people has endured physical and emotional pain and struggle and achieved triumph through adversity.
Enslaved Africans brought to America against their will learned biblical stories when they were converted to Christianity. They connected with the book of Exodus, and the promise of deliverance from slavery is echoed in uplifting and heartfelt spirituals like Go Down Moses—which many Jews today sing during Passover—and Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel.
These songs and their themes of freedom and overcoming struggle continued to resonate through the Civil Rights movement, when Jews—who joined voter drives, protests, and lawsuits in support of African Americans—envisaged their own people’s struggles toward freedom.
“Doing the show has made it clear to me why there was so much Jewish participation in the Civil Rights movement,” Perry says. “The Holocaust had just happened. Of course, they understood!”
The poem-turned-song, Es Brent (It Is Burning), written by Mordecai Gebirtig about a pogrom in Poland, challenges witnesses to act, to protect and defend a town and its inhabitants. Soul to Soul veteran performer Elmore James, whose resonant bass reinforces the seriousness of the song, says, “There’s a parallel history with the pogroms of Russia and Eastern Europe and the massacres of thriving Black communities in America.”
In the Greenwood District of Tulsa, known as Black Wall Street, residents suffered a land and air assault by white civilians. Dozens were killed, thousands displaced, and the community suffered millions of dollars in damages without redress. Soon after, a white mob attacked Black people in their homes and burned churches, buildings, and occupied houses in the all-Black town of Rosewood.
“In high school, my best friend’s parents were Auschwitz survivors,” Elmore James says. “I used to sit with his father, and he’d tell stories of the pogroms. I think of them and of the Black people who went through the massacres. I hold all of them when I sing this song. It moves me because it really moves the audience. We are in this together—in history and in the moment.”
Many American Jews can trace their family’s arrival to the decades before World War I. These Jews were escaping anti-Semitism, pogroms, and poverty in search of safety and financial security in the United States. Their dreams were not unlike those of African Americans during the Great Migration, which began in 1916 with individuals and families moving from southern states—where they experienced racism, state-sponsored violence, poverty, and terror—to northern states for the same security sought by immigrant Jews.
These parallel experiences are explored in New Colossus and Ellis Island, a Yiddish song that highlights why Jews left their homelands and the rejection they encountered upon arriving here.
Singer, songwriter, and producer Sam Cooke began his musical career in gospel, but crossed over to mainstream pop with tunes like You Send Me and Twistin’ the Night Away. While he may be best known among white audiences for these musical hits, he also incorporated gospel in concerts, ensuring that all his fans would hear the music of his heart. Later in his career, he chose to risk losing his largely white fan base by composing A Change Is Gonna Come, expressing his experience with racism. Soon after he performed it only once, on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, he was killed and never saw the song grow into the Civil Rights anthem it has since become.
Perry says, “He paved the way for more commercially successfully Black musicians—like the Temptations and Marvin Gaye—to create protest music and use their platforms to express their experiences of being Black in America. If Cooke hadn’t done that, it would have taken longer until there would be more open and honest music.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Now is the time for men and women to cast aside their prejudices. It’s time to look and really see; listen and really hear; talk and have something important to say.” That is what Soul to Soul does, by giving people of all faiths, creeds, colors, and religions an opportunity to come together and better understand our common experiences.
“The songs show the parallels between African American history and Jewish history and remind us that, while the world may try to tear us apart, we are more alike than we are different. We share the same hopes and desires,” says Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. “Though imbued with songs that illustrate a difficult history, Soul to Soul is wonderfully soul-lifting, energizing, and joyful.”
Lisa Fishman Singer, actress, songwriter, and guitarist Lisa Fishman has performed throughout the U.S. and Europe – starring in Off-Broadway and Regional Musical Theater, singing and recording her own original music, performing Jewish music, starring in Yiddish Theater productions, and concertizing in a broad range of musical styles. Highlights: “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish – dir. Joel Grey, “The Golden Bride” (Toybe), “Cabaret” (Sally Bowles), “On Second Avenue” (Principal), “Oliver” (Nancy), “Tintypes” (Fanny Brice/Emma Goldman), “Bruce Adler, A,B,C” (principal). Singer – Chicago’s Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. Concert Highlights: Carnegie Hall, Town Hall, Barbican Centre (London), Wiener Konzerthaus (Vienna). Singing featured in the film, “Dummy,” starring Adrien Brody. www.LisaFishman.com www.LisaFishmanJewishMusic
Daniella Rabbani is a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Credits include, with The National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene: Drama Desk nominated The Golden Land, Hershele Ostropolye and Gimple Tam among many concerts from Warsaw, Poland and Vienna, Austria to Town Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center in NYC. TV: HBO’s Scenes from a Marriage, CBS’ God Friended Me, FX’s The Americans, Fox’s Laughs. Films: Oceans 8 (WB), Appropriate Behavior (Sundance), OMA (Prime Video). Host: Mom Curious Podcast. DaniellaRabbani.com.
Brian Glassman One of NYC area’s most in-demand double bassists, BRIAN GLASSMAN is best known for his work in Jazz, and Klezmer musical styles. Some of the Klezmer and Jewish music stars that Brian has worked with include Andy Statman, Frank London, Zalmen Mlotek, Alicia Svigals, Mandy Patinkin, Sid Beckerman, Pete Sokolow, Theodore Bikel, Adrienne Cooper, and Neshama Carlebach. Jazz greats like; Paquito d’Rivera, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Lionel Hampton, Kenny Burrell, Benny Golson, Randy Brecker, Gene Bertoncini, Billy Cobham to name just a few. Brian and his historic c.1820’s Prescott American double bass are featured on new recorded releases from, Neshama Carlebach, Woody Mann, Carol Hall, Andy Statman, Klezmerfest, Liza Minnelli, and the Johnny Rodgers Band. Brian is an Ambassador of American Music for the U.S. State Dept. and Instructor of Jazz Bass at Princeton University.
Zalmen Mlotek is an internationally recognized authority on Yiddish folk and theater music as well as a leading figure in the Jewish theatre and concert
worlds. For the past 20 years, he has been theArtistic Director and conductor at National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene. His vision brought the critically acclaimed award-winning Fidler AfnDakh (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish ) directed by Joel Grey , for which he served as music director to NY, and will serve as musical supervisor for the International and National tours being planned.
He brought Yiddish-Klezmer music to Broadway and Off-Broadway stages with the Tony-nominated Those Were the Days and Drama Desk Nominated Amerike
– The Golden Land. He serves as Music Director for most NYTF productions, including the recent New York Times Critics Pick The Sorceress and Drama
Desk Nominated musical The Golden Bride. His music can be heard in over two-dozen recordings and films, has taught and performed all over the world and worked with countless singers including Jan Peerce, Theodore Bikel and Mandy Patinkin.