Gospel choir to perform May 13 at Tifereth Israel

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir San Diego

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO — What’s that you say? A gospel choir will be performing at a Conservative Jewish synagogue?

Yes, it’s true: immediately following Havdalah at 8:16 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, the 80-member, multiracial Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Choir San Diego (MLKCC) will perform in the sanctuary of Tifereth Israel Synagogue, 6660 Cowles Mountain Blvd.

David Ogul, the synagogue’s education and youth vice president, said he and Debbie Mishek, the congregation’s religious vice president, met with choir director Ken Anderson and worked out a program that would focus on gospel songs relating to Hebrew Scriptures.

Ogul said he explained to Anderson that songs praising Jesus would cause discomfort for members of the Conservative congregation, some of whom are Holocaust Survivors, whereas songs praising God, or based on stories from the Tanakh would be well received.

Anderson, who also is a music instructor at Grossmont College, reportedly told Ogul that the choir has a very large selection of music and tailoring the program to Tifereth Israel Synagogue’s needs would not be a problem.

The free concert in the congregation’s sanctuary will be preceded by a short talk by Anderson discussing the roots of gospel.

Any monetary donations from members of the audience will be put toward a scholarship fund that the choir has established for graduating high school seniors to study the performing arts in college.

Ogul said inviting the gospel choir was part of Tifereth Israel’s overall program of outreach to the general community. He explained that in addition to Jewish religious functions, the synagogue is home to the Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra (TICO), whose players are drawn from many religious groups; is host to the monthly meeting of the Navajo Community Planners, which makes recommendations to the San Diego City Planning Commission on issues affecting the neighborhoods of San Carlos, Del Cerro and Allied Gardens; and provides its venue for a county exercise program for older adults.

It’s possible that such events will prompt unaffiliated Jews to visit the synagogue, and realize that it is a cool and welcoming place, commented Ogul.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

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One Response to “Gospel choir to perform May 13 at Tifereth Israel”

  1. Bob says:

    The entrance to Tiffereth Israel is on Tommy Street. Turn West (left, if you’re coming from Navajo) on Tommy Dr. off of Cowles Mt. where you see the Tiffereth Israel sign. In about 50 yards you’ll make a hard right onto Tommy Street, and the Synagogue’s driveway is the first right.


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