Jewish Americans have made their marks in many fields. Entertainment is certainly among them.
To celebrate the accomplishments of Jewish composers George Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Stan Getz, Herb Alpert and Neil Diamond, Temple Israel presented “Let’s Shwing: Jews, Jazz and Jive” on Sunday, April 19. Conceived and co-produced by outgoing synagogue president Joel Rubin and his wife, Sara Jo Rubin, Temple Israel vice president, with the assistance of a volunteer committee, the evening featured wine, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction on the Eisenberg Atrium, and then a plated dinner prepared by TCC culinary chef Deanna Freridge and her students, followed by a lively and creative musical program, all in Brody Auditorium.
Rubin and WHRV FM jazz maven Jae Sinnett delivered brief backgrounds of the Jewish and musical pasts of the six renowned artists, then the area’s premier swing band, Glen Boswick and the Sound of Swing Orchestra, played selections those noted writers and performers made famous. Legendary Norfolk tap dancer and singer, 88-year-old David Kennedy, wowed the sellout crowd of more than 200 during one of the numbers, It Had to Be You. Soloist Jimmy Crank closed out the formal part of the night, leading a sing-along of Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.
Two couples from local group Swing Virginia danced during some of the highlighted numbers, and then were on the floor for the last hour of the event when Boswick’s band played a host of favorites from the 40s and 50s while the guests filled the dance floor. “It was one of the best events we have ever had,” says Richard Saunders, past president. “A lot of spirit with great food, history and choreography.”
“I was thrilled with how it all turned out,” says Sara Jo Rubin, who managed the meal as well as solicited sponsors and oversaw ticket sales. “We made our goal and received many compliments afterwards.” Rubin credits the TCC students, florist Leslie Hartig and Chesapeake Bay Catering for adding to the ambience.
Just before the music played, the Temple family honored Leslie Bradner, who is returning to her hometown in Charlotte County, Va. after 16 years as synagogue director. Her longtime assistant, Nancy Tucker, has succeeded her. “I think we found a good format for a program,” says Joel Rubin, “and we’ll build on it for next year. We like to have a good time at Temple Israel, and we certainly did on April 19.”