RUACH NEWS AND WORLD REPORT
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September 2, 2014
Understanding Struggle Through Music: A Jewish Perspective
On September 2, RUACH, Inc. kicked off its 10th anniversary celebration with a concert featuring a performance by the Philomusica String Quartet. The concert, entitled Understanding Struggle Through Music: A Jewish Perspective, featured music by composers Hans Krása, Sholom Secunda and Dmitri Shostakovich.
Approximately 125 people were in attendance, including Russian immigrants from six senior residences managed by Jewish Family Services.
Prior to the performance, Dr. Alexander Mandl, a Philomusica violinist, and Yaffa Karan, RUACH Program Manager, gave pre-concert lectures about the featured composers and music to the general audience and to Russian-American attendees, respectively. Yaffa’s presentation and the concert’s welcome and opening remarks were translated by Lena Vusiker of Jewish Family Services.
Thank you to our volunteers and a special thanks to Viktoriya Rubinshteyn and Lena Vusiker of Jewish Family Services for their assistance in connecting to and engaging with their constituents. And an extra special thanks to the Philomusica Quartet and to all of our concert attendees, including the residents of Bradford Apartments, Convent Hill, Golda Meir House, Jefferson Court, River Park and Surlow senior residences.
Project VITAL (Values in the Arts & Life)
Project: VITAL (Values in the Arts & Life) is RUACH’s unique program that combines arts instruction with lessons in positive values. Last year, RUACH sent art teachers to eight diverse institutions within the greater Milwaukee area , including schools and homes for the elderly.
Ms. Karen Reiffman created a lesson plan that, through the use of various art media, taught the value of the relationship between an individual and his or her community. Each participant created his or her own collage-based “quilt panel,” constructed of illustration board material. Currently, all boards are being linked together to form one large community “Crazy Quilt,” teaching how each individual serves as an important link within his or her larger community. As each participant explored new art media, he or she learned important lessons in community and teamwork. Participants felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride for their work and the work of others, as they developed a stronger sense of self and community. The final quilts will be displayed at our 2015 Project: VITAL production.
The planning for this year’s Project: VITAL is off to a great start. This year we are celebrating RUACH’s 10th Anniversary. In honor of this celebration, we will be focusing on cultural and ethnic diversity and spirit (“ruach” in Hebrew). We will continue the successful community collaboration format, in which participating institutions work together on various art forms without being in the same room at the same time. We plan to send art and music teachers to schools around the Milwaukee area, seeking to educate students with respect for diversity, whether ethnic or cultural. We will focus on the importance of connecting to one’s roots, as a basis for pride in one’s self and one another, while also seeking to unite under the universal ties that bind. The Project will also teach the value of the arts in several ways, including exploration of how various art forms–whether visual arts, music or theater–can serve as an expression of “ruach” and can connect us with our ethnic and cultural roots.
In celebration of RUACH’s 10th anniversary, we will combine all the “work products” from the various artistic residencies into one final production celebrating “ruach” or spirit. The artwork created during the residencies will be used as scenery for the production, while the students involved in the other art forms will showcase their work during the production. The students involved in the various residencies from 2014 and 2015 will be invited to come to the final performance and see the fruits of their work in collaboration with other students. With generous assistance from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund and The Helen Bader Foundation, this year’s Project: VITAL promises to educate, create and inspire.
For more information or to sign up for Project: VITAL, please contact Ms. Yaffa Karan, RUACH Program Manager at email@example.com, or call 414-367-4890.
RUACH, Inc. presents Igor Stravinsky’s ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ on May 19th
Thank you to all who attended RUACH’s two successful performances of Igor Stravinsky’s ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. The morning show was performed before more than 200 students from six schools located throughout the Greater Milwaukee area. The evening presentation drew an audience of over 130 attendees, many of whom first listened to a presentation on ‘The Jewish Perspective of Good and Evil’ by Rabbi Michel Twerski, followed by the final performance of ‘The Soldier’s Tale.’ Special thanks go to Alexander Mandl (the conductor), the musicians and the actors for their superb performances; the students, teachers and chaperones from ALBA Elementary School, Bruce Guadalupe School, I.D.E.A.L. Charter School, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, U.S. Grant Elementary School and Westside Academy II for their attendance; and Congregation Beth Jehudah for sponsoring Rabbi Twerski’s presentation. Thank you to Rabbi Twerski for his outstanding talk, and to our hosts at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, led by Brad Bingheim and Matt Whitmore, for the wonderful job they did, as always. Thank you to David Becker for playing the hero’s role, not just by playing the title character, but by creating a very creative and engaging version of the original libretto. And last, but certainly not least, thank you so much to our sponsors: The National Endowment for the Arts, the United Performing Arts Fund, and the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, as well as The Helen Bader Foundation for their help in producing the morning performance for the schools.
Yiddish Music Series Brings Joy to Jewish Home and Care Center Residents RUACH and its Core Partner, the Jewish Home and Care Center (JHCC), have been bringing art and music programming to JHCC residents through the Rubin Sharpe Tribute Series for almost two years now. This program was made possible by a bequest left to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation by Rubin Sharpe, of blessed memory, the grandfather of RUACH Executive Director Josh Richman, to fund a partnership between the two organizations. One of the most successful outgrowths of this project is the Yiddish Music Series, which brings live Yiddish music to patients with early to mid-stage dementia at the Helen Bader Center of the JHCC. The Yiddish Music Series has proven to be therapeutic for many of the residents, helping them to engage and stimulate warm memories. RUACH and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation have continued Yiddish Music Series programming, led by Adam Margolis, thanks to The Helen Bader Foundation, which approved a grant to the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation to sustain the successful program for another two years. For more information, please read this article recently published in The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.