Shabbaton focuses on ‘And After the Fire’

Shabbaton focuses on ‘And After the Fire’

Teaneck’s Temple Emeth holds its “One Book, One Synagogue Shabbaton” on Zoom on Saturday, January 8. The program will explore the themes of “And After the Fire,” a work of historical fiction book by Lauren Belfer that is set both in late 18th- and early 19th-century Berlin and in modern-day New York.

Participants are encouraged to read the book before the Shabbaton, but it is not necessary. The discussion is intended to pique the interests of people who have not read it as well as those who have.

At 9 a.m., Rabbi Steven Sirbu will lead a text study on the writings of Moses Mendelssohn, who was both the foremost thinker of the Haskalah (Jewish enlightenment) and the grandfather of Felix Mendelssohn. The elder Mendelssohn’s work shaped the society in which his grandson composed and it continues to affect our view of Judaism in the modern world.

At 10:30, the Shabbat morning service will include excerpts from “And After the Fire,” reflecting how the themes of the book are interspersed throughout the siddur. Cantor Ellen Tilem will sing selected liturgical music from 19th-century Germany.

“And After the Fire” takes readers into the salon of Sarah Itzig Levy (1761-1854) in Berlin. Music, including work composed and performed by Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, was central to those gatherings.

Both composers were controversial in the Berlin Jewish community, Bach for his antisemitism and Mendelssohn Bartholdy because he converted from Judaism to Christianity.

The programs continues at 1 p.m., when Thomas Mustachio, a Temple Emeth accompanist, will perform music by Bach and Mendelssohn Bartholdy to help participants appreciate the importance of Sarah Levy’s salon. He will be joined by virtuoso violinist Bela Horvath.

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