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Cabaret Under the Dome is Jan. 9 B’nai Israel

The Natchez Festival of Music and the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) proudly present the second annual Cabaret Under the Dome at historic Temple B’nai Israel. This evening of Broadway and opera classics performed by singers from across the South supports the building’s restoration and celebrates the Jewish community’s important place in the history of Natchez.

The artists performing in the cabaret are featured in the Natchez Festival of Music’s annual outreach program. They will share favorite songs from their repertoires in this one-night-only benefit concert in the historic sanctuary of Temple B’nai Israel. The Temple B’nai Israel congregation is excited to be a part of the Festival of Music’s mission to bring world-class opera and Broadway performances to the region.  Outreach programs like this one demonstrate the value of the arts in the city of Natchez.

Festival favorites will bring their beautiful musicianship to this benefit: Eric Botto, a Houston native, is a tenor currently pursuing a master of music in vocal performance at the University of Mobile. Tennessee native Grace Denton is a doctorate of musical arts student in voice performance and pedagogy at the University of Mobile.

Hosea Griffith is a graduate of Mississippi College and a regular performer at New Stage Theatre in Jackson. Harlan Mapp is studying for his master’s degree in conducting at the University of Southern Mississippi. Soprano Olivia Russell has a resume of diverse roles in opera and musical theatre, which she continues to build as a student at the University of Mobile. Collaborative pianist Julian Jones, a Louisiana native, is a doctorate of musical arts student in vocal pedagogy and performance at the University of Mobile.

Expect selections from classic musicals, art songs, and arias from Puccini, Mozart, Haydn, Verdi and Rossini. Ringing out under the vaulted ceiling of Temple B’nai Israel, this beautiful music will become yet another part of the temple’s history as a gathering place for the entire Natchez community and beyond.

Jews have flourished for almost two centuries in Natchez. From early peddlers to prominent citizens, the impact of the Jewish community has been an important part of the history of Natchez. Today the city’s Jewish community is small, but community members remain dedicated to preserving the legacy of Jewish Natchez. In 1991, Temple B’nai Israel went into partnership with the ISJL as a way of preserving the temple into the future. In 2017, the Mississippi Heritage Trust named Temple B’nai Israel one of the Ten Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi.

A shared vision for the temple’s future emerged from an appreciation for Natchez as a community that values history, culture and continuity — values also embodied in the Natchez Festival of Music’s programs.

The Restoration, Rehabilitation and Preservation of Temple B’nai Israel is a multi-phase project that began with the installation of a wheelchair access ramp on the north side of the building, completed in January 2019. In May 2019, a significant roof leak necessitated the immediate repair and stabilization of the roof. The application of a high-build silicone coating to the roof and the historic dome was completed in September 2019. The temple recently received a Community Heritage Preservation Grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH), which will support the complete replacement of the building’s outdated electrical system and the installation of a fire suppression system. Support and generosity from the Natchez community is crucial to the success of this project, and fundraising for matching funds for the MDAH grant is ongoing.

Once the multimillion-dollar restoration project is complete, the building will be consistently open as an event space, community arts hub and museum telling the story of Jewish life in Natchez.

Join the celebration at Temple B’nai Israel, 213 S. Commerce Street, on Thursday, January 9th, at 7pm. Tickets are $20. The concert will be followed by refreshments. All of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Temple B’nai Israel Restoration and Preservation Fund.

To learn more and purchase tickets, visit www.natcheztemple.org/cabaret2020. Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information, contact Nora Katz at nkatz@isjl.org or 601.362.6357.

Nora Katz is the director of heritage and interpretation at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life and co-chair of the Temple B’nai Israel Board of Overseers.

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