Jewish Studies at Sonoma State University is an interdisciplinary program that provides students with the chance to earn a minor degree through the study of language, culture, history, comparative religion, and politics. Jewish Studies courses will foster interfaith dialogue, promote cultural diversity, and increase understanding of how religion has influenced societies around the world.

Fall 2021 Jewish Music Series

THU, SEPT 2, 5:30 p.m.        


Klezmer Band

Kugelplex is California’s rockin’-est purveyor of Klezmer and old-world party music. Formed in 2001, the group plays wild, soulful dance music at weddings, concerts and festivals throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and beyond. Kugelplex has performed with Joan Baez, the Oakland Symphony, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and Frank London (founder of the Klezmatics), among many other great artists.

Link: https://www.kugelplex.com (Links to an external site.)


THU, SEPT 23, 5:30 p.m.  

The Bridge Players


Chamber music for violin, cello and piano by two Jewish composers: Felix Mendelssohn – grandson of Moses Mendelssohn, founder of Haskalah “the Jewish Enlightenment” ­– and Sonoma State Music Professor and Director of Jewish Studies, Brian S. Wilson. Selections will include one of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trios; Wilson’s “Alchunun” for Piano Trio; and “Jumping in the Bay” for solo violin. The Bridge Players include Randall Weiss and Leslie Ludena (violins), Natalia Vershilova (viola), Victoria Ehrlich (cello), and Marilyn Thompson (piano). The Players reside in the San Francisco Bay Area and regularly perform chamber music throughout Northern California. Since 2001, they have been ensemble-in-residence for Music in the Mishkan, a chamber music series at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (Links to an external site.) in San Francisco.

Link:  http://thebridgeplayers.com (Links to an external site.)


THU,OCT 7,5:30 p.m.        

Tears Joy and Hope, Yiddish Songs of the Jewish Ghetto

 Harriet Bennish, voice
Victoria Ehrlich, cello
Dan Cantrell, accordion 

During a time when millions of Jews were facing death, music found a way into their lives. Jews composed music as they lived, fought and died in the ghettos across Europe. “Tears, Joy and Hope: Yiddish Songs Written in the Jewish Ghetto” were written by Jewish poets and composers who perished in the Holocaust. Everyday life in the ghetto is revealed through the rich, colorful and complex language of Yiddish. A PowerPoint presentation of historical photos and translations for each song will be projected onto a screen, as a professional musical ensemble of accordion and cello creates the mood of a people living in desperate times.

Link:  https://www.harrietbennish.com/tears-joy-and-hope-yiddish-songs-of-the-jewish-ghetto/ (Links to an external site.)


THU, OCT 21,5:30 p.m. 

Lior Ben Hur

Contemporary Jewish World Music                                                           

Born in Jerusalem, Israel with Greek and Iraqi roots, Lior Ben-Hur has traveled to over a dozen countries where he spent time learning, performing and sharing experiences with musicians and artists around the globe. Since 2004, Lior has made his home in San Francisco, CA. He formed his band in 2011, which in 2012 released an eclectic World music album under the name Sol Tevél. The album sheds new light with contemporary interpretations of old Jewish texts, ideals and mysticism. Along with his 8-piece band, Lior Ben-Hur continues to focus on his passion for Reggae music, which has been a key inspiration on his musical creativity and spirituality.

Link: https://liorbenhur.com (Links to an external site.)


THU, NOV 4, 5:30 p.m.       

Veretski Pass

Klezmer String Trio
Cookie Segelstein, violin
Stuart Brotman, bass and cello
 Joshua Horowitz, accordion and cimbalom 

Veretski Pass is truly the “house band” of the Jewish Music Series, having shared their artistry with us each year since 2015. Taking its name from the mountain pass through which Magyar tribes crossed into the Carpathian Basin to settle what later became the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Veretski Pass offers a unique and exciting combination of virtuosic musicianship and raw energy that has excited concertgoers across the world. The music of Veretski Pass can be heard in the Emmy-nominated film, Defiant Requiem, narrated by Bebe Neuwirth.

Link:  http://www.veretskipass.com/veretskipass.com/Home.html (Links to an external site.)


THU, NOV 18, 5:30 p.m.        

The Vocal Music of Leonard Bernstein 

SSU Voice Students
Justin Montigne, voice faculty 

Voice majors from Sonoma State will present a concert of the vocal music of the late Leonard Bernstein, composer of such Broadway blockbusters as On The Town and West Side Story and Laureate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1943-1990. Selections will include music from Bernstein’s Musical Theatre and Classical songs.


The Jewish Studies program at Sonoma State showed me how to incorporate Judaism into facets of my life that I previously thought were culturally insignificant.