Congregation Or Chadash will celebrate its 18th anniversary with “Chai Hopes: a musical celebration honoring 18 years of life, faith, and community” on Sunday, Feb. 16 at 3:30 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center. The number 18 is significant in Jewish tradition because it is the sum of the numerical values of the letters in “chai,” the Hebrew word for “life.”
Among those joining Cantor Janece Cohen will be Cantor Ilan Davidson of Temple Beth El in San Pedro, Calif., Cantor Avraham Alpert of Tucson’s Congregation Bet Shalom and several returning young Or Chadash talents.
“We are bringing back some of our alumni who have gone into the music field. They’re favorites of the community,” says Cohen, naming Rabbi Thomas Louchheim’s son Jacob, an opera singer who appeared in Don Giovanni in a New York Opera Exchange production in May, and Rhonda Carson, who recently graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.
Davidson, who took Cohen’s position when she left Temple Beth El in 1995, is “an amazing tenor” who can do everything from liturgical pieces to Broadway show tunes, she says. “We do concerts together pretty much every year,” whether in Tucson or Los Angeles. “I just figured if you have a winning ticket, you keep it going.”
As for Alpert, “we wanted to include our newest neighbor,” says Cohen, who explains that she knew him peripherally when he was studying in Tucson in the late ’90s. “But Avi was the cantor in Las Vegas where my cousin goes to shul and so I re-met him at my cousin’s kids’ Bar Mitzvahs, and sang with him there. I just loved working with him. When he moved to Tucson I was thrilled,” she says.
The program will include Jewish music, pop and Broadway tunes as well as some comedy routines. “We’ll have highlights from all the concerts we’ve had in the last 18 years, including some traditional favorites from ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ and some new songs as well,” says Cohen.
The new songs will include pieces Cohen composed herself. One is a love song she wrote for her wedding, which she has not performed since. Another is “Grant Us Peace,” a prayer Jacob Louchheim performed at Or Chadash’s High Holiday services.
An Israeli feast follows the concert.
Tickets for the concert are $18 in advance for adults ($20 at the door), or $36 for the concert and dinner (must be purchased in advance). For children 12 and under, tickets are $10 for the concert or $18 with dinner. Sponsorship packages are available. For more information or tickets, call 512-8500.