Concert to honor survivors and those lost in the Holocaust

Musical offering is a bar mitzvah project

Valley Outreach Synagogue and Center for Jewish Life will present “Music and Memory,” a concert dedicated to those who perished in and those who survived the Holocaust, at 3 p.m. Sun., April 15 at the synagogue, 26668 Agoura Road, Calabasas.

The concert is funded and inspired by the bar mitzvah project of Asher Mehr.

A bar mitzvah is a coming of age ritual where a teen is seen as a Jewish adult.

Asher learned about Maurice Rosenberg, a Jewish Parisian teen who did not reach adulthood, from Maurice’s sister, Michele Rodri. She describes Maurice as a boy who never had the opportunity to “become” himself before his life ended in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Like Asher, Maurice loved music, especially Beethoven.

Asher says that music can reach where words cannot and that art can offer healing. He hopes this concert to honor Maurice will provide an opportunity for community, light and comfort.

The concert will feature pianist David Kaplan, alumnus of Juilliard, who serves as interim professor of piano at UCLA.

Kaplan will play Beethoven’s Sonata in F Minor, Op. 57, the “Appassionata.”

Asher Mehr will sing Charles Trenet’s “La Mer.”

Rabbi Ron Li-Paz of Valley Outreach Synagogue will sing two Yiddish art songs by Moses Milner.

Cellist Kevan Torfeh will perform works by Ernest Bloch and Alexander Tansman.

The women’s choir of El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills, directed by Corinne Brennan, will sing “The Last Butterfly” from Charles Davidson’s cantata “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.”

Danielle Lorin and Rachel and Leah Yoffe, VOS teens, will sing solos.

The text of the song is by Pavel Friedman, one of the youths held in Terezin concentration camp during the Holocaust, who died in Auschwitz two years later.

Neal Brostoff, musical producer for the concert, will serve as pianist for the vocal and instrumental soloists.

In addition to an art exhibit, the afternoon will include readings of poems by the youths of Terezin.

The featured speaker will be Samara Hutman, director of Remember-Us, an organization that connects American bar and bat mitzvah youths with the memory of children who perished in the Holocaust before having a chance to read from the Torah, a ritual central to a bar and bat mitzvah.

The concert is free although a donation of $18 is suggested in support of ongoing Holocaust remembrance at VOS.

Email Chaplain Jennifer Nye at Chaplain-Nye@VOSLA.org or call (818) 882-4867 at Valley Outreach Synagogue for more information.