CLARK—On Sunday, Dec. 6, internationally known multilingual singer Naomi Miller joined with the Hester Street Troupe, a New Jersey-based Klezmer band for an afternoon of entertainment “from Broadway to Klezmer” at Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah in Clark.
Playing to a packed house, the show wove Yiddish vaudeville into Broadway theatre, and back again. Audience member Fern Cammy, who heads Temple Beth Or/Beth Torah’s Ways and Means Committee, was overwhelmed with the audience’s response to the performance. “Everyone was mesmerized by the Klezmer band,” said Cammy, “people sang along, clapped, danced, and just plain loved it. And then Naomi came in and belted out Broadway tunes, in every language, from English, to Yiddish, to even Japanese.”
This was not the first time the singer and Klezmer group have performed together. Back in the 1980s, Miller shared the bill at the Forum Theatre in Metuchen with the Klezmer Group, named “The Hester Street Troupe.”
Featuring Alan Sweifach on clarinet, Jay Sweifach on keyboards and synthesizer, and Jim Bazewicz on drums, the Union County-born trio specialize in Klezmer and Jewish music and have been electrifying audiences since that Forum Theatre Concert for the past 21 years.
Born in a post-war displaced persons camp, Miller moved to Paterson with her family. She began performing during grade school, after she was discovered singing in the acoustically-tiled walls of the mikveh run by her parents for Paterson’s Jewish community. As she grew up to the sounds of the Jewish shows on WEVD radio, Miller dreamed that one day she, too, would be on radio.
Cantor Steven Stern, spiritual leader of Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah, was thrilled with the audience’s reaction to the show. “This exciting concert took place in the days before Hanukkah, the Festivals of Lights. What better way to set the mood for the holiday season and bring light into our lives than by joining with family and friends to experience freylich music, which is music that enlivens the soul. These are magnificent performers who knew how to do just that.”
Both performance acts sold their CD’s during the intermission and after the concert, and donated a portion of these proceeds to the temple.
Alan Sweifach of the Hester St. Troupe performs at Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah in Clark. Photo courtesy of Temple Beth O’r/Beth Torah
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