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Jewish congregation plans special concert to celebrate start of Hanukkah in Tyler

Rabbi Neal Katz
Rabbi Neal Katz
Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 6:30 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 29, 2021 at 12:30 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A Tyler Jewish congregation has invited the community to a special concert to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah.

Hanukkah is an eight night festival of lights. Rabbi Neal Katz at Congregation Beth El in Tyler said the holiday commemorates a military victory 2,200 years ago by the Maccabees.

“In tradition we teach about how when the Maccabees went to restore their temple to use, so that way they could go and worship God, they had to clean it up and there was cruise of oil that was only supposed to last with enough oil for one night but it miraculously lasted for eight nights,” he said.

Around the world people are lighting the first candle in their menorahs, playing dreidel, and eating latkes, which are potato pancakes. In Tyler specifically, musicians are preparing for a free concert for the public on Monday night.

“Many years ago we started a rhythm section here at the congregation then we started adding instruments and adding different music into the repertoire and it became very exciting here within the temple,” Katz said. “However, we decided to move it outside the walls of the congregation and we made it a community event and that’s what began what we call the Hanukkah Klezmer Concert.”

Katz tells people to think of Fiddler on the Roof to get an idea of what music they’ll hear. It’s cultural music that came from Eastern Europe which has had a revival in America.

“The word klezmer is a mashup word of two Hebrew words, which means vessels, ‘clay’, ‘zemer’, of song. Klezmer is not only a type of music, it’s the musician itself. So a Klezmer was a person who was hired throughout Eastern Europe so you’re thinking Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, and Belarus, and Western Russia and they would play weddings,” Katz said. “That was sort of their main job and there were certain regional melodies as well. So if you think of gypsy music and heavy on clarinet and violin, that is really the best approximation of what we can hear when we think of Klezmer music.”

The 14th annual Hanukkah Klezmer Concert will start Monday at 7 p.m. at True Vine Brewing company on Earl Campbell Parkway in Tyler. Admission is free.

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