March 17, 2014—Last night, at the home of Ken Boros and Chloe Ziegler, Bill Burnett, Ellen Kennedy, and Geoff Levin put on a rousing show that had the whole audience singing…and studying Torah!
Knowledge of the Jubilation Musical Society’s “Secrets of the Megillah” had spread quickly by word of mouth and private emails. Even before the show began the living room had filled to capacity. Ken and Chloe, quick to adapt, resorted to making more sitting space by putting down colorful pillows and blankets. People still spilled out of the room, and many sat on the stairwell to get a good and comfortable view of the performers.
“Secrets of the Megillah” started with the story of the Jews in exile, coming out of Israel into Babylon. Bill and Ellen began their beautiful harmonies to a medieval-sounding version of Psalm 137: “By the waters of Babylon, we lay down and wept for thee Zion…” The whole audience sang along. As the show progressed, the music became even more involved, with Bill and Ellen singing original songs penned by Burnett, and Geoff displaying impressive slide guitar skills. The songs told the often untold story of Hadasah, renamed Esther, who becomes the Queen of Persia and has to lay her own life and morals on the line, literally, to save her people.
The show ended to thundering applause—Bill had brought the longing of the Jews to return to their land full circle by explaining that it was the child of Esther and Ahaseurus that let the Jews back into the land to rebuild the Temple. He had gone past exposing the secrets of the Megillah to explaining the purpose of the story itself.
After the concert concluded, eager participants discussed the Megillah in a round-table fashion. Susan Stone said her favorite part was the discussion, because she got to hear all the different opinions of the people attending the show. Amongst the crowd was Rabbi Robin Podolsky, adult educator at Temple Beth Israel of Highland and Eagle Rock, Cantor Rebekah Mirsky, Professor Laurie Zoloth, Professor of Ethics at Northwestern University and Mark Strunin, President of TBI. All these scholars and more added years of experience and valuable textual knowledge to the discussion.
Excitement is high as to the potential of these “Guitorah” concerts. The success has sparked a desire for more concerts from the Jubilation Musical Society – Concerts and Shows that bring Torah to life with song—stay tuned!