Congregations to unite in song

Rosette Gonzales

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

temple services.

"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.

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