Father Chuck Mitchell and Rabbi Mark Sobel decided a long time ago
that peace begins one congregation at a time.
The choirs of Temple Beth Emet and St. Jude's Episcopal Church
will join together in harmony for a holiday concert at 7:30 tonight
at St. Jude's Episcopal Church, 111 S. 6th St. The musical program
will promote a bridge of peace that church and temple members hope
extends beyond the holiday season.
Cantor Rachel Hollander and choir director Jim Ellfeldt will
conduct the singers as Temple Beth Emet's choir performs Hanukkah
songs, while St. Jude's choir sings Christmas carols. The two adult
choirs will also perform several nonsectarian songs together.
"It has been a wonderful exchange," said Yvonne Beltzer, a second
soprano for the Temple Beth choir. "[The songs] have a common ground
because they both express a love for God."
The adult choirs collaborated musically for the first time two
years ago but Temple Beth Emet and St. Jude's Episcopal Church have a
history of ecumenical sharing.
St. Jude's loans its sanctuary to the temple for Rosh Hashanah
and Yom Kippur services and members of St. Jude's often attend Friday
"They call us the older brother," Sobel said of Mitchell's
congregation, "from the idea that Judaism came before Christianity."
He said members of both congregations have a respect and love for
one another that is mutually nurturing and the concert is another way
of expressing to the world that familiarity.
"There's also a great deal of love going on and a great deal of
reconciliation," he said. "We believe this a good way to reach out to
each other and understand more what we have in common and as
The relationship between the two congregations symbolizes the
ability to find a common thread among differing beliefs through
"The point of the songs that we do is always to promote peace,"
Hollander said. "We hope to make this concert happen every year."
At the end of the concert a priestly blessing will be given in
Hebrew by Sobel. Mitchell will give the blessing in English.
"It's a brother- and sisterhood. Holidays can be really difficult
for people. We hope to bring a little bit of peace and a little bit
of joy," Hollander said, with the hopes that people will turn down
their swords this season and embrace.
The concert will start at 7:30 tonight at St. Jude's Episcopal
Church, 111 S. 6th St. Tickets are $10, $7 for children. Proceeds
benefit Temple Beth Emet, St. Jude's, and Israeli charities. For more
information, call 843-4787 or 842-7461.