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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Michael Barclay

Jazz musicians help temple celebrate July 4

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

In honor of America’s birthday, Temple Ner Simcha will host a “Jewish Jazzy July Shabbat Under the Stars” service at 7 p.m. Fri., July 6 at Oak Canyon Community Park, 5600 Hollytree Drive, Oak Park.

The synagogue’s clergy and musical team will be joined by guest jazz musicians as they create musical interpretations of some of the Sabbath liturgy.

Joining the Ner Simcha clergy will be trumpet and percussionist David Zasloff, “Tonight Show” guitarist Mat Gurman (who has backed up the likes of K.D. Lang and the Backstreet Boys) and saxophonist John Cheas, whose career spans over five decades, including performances with Cher and Frankie Avalon.

“Jazz is tied to the American experience and, I would add, to the Jewish experience as well,” said Rabbi Michael Barclay, the spiritual leader of Ner Simcha. “Bernstein, Gershwin, Benny Goodman, Mel Torme, Kenny G, Dave Koz. We’ve always expressed our souls through this music. It’s going to be an amazing evening as we integrate our Shabbat prayers with some phenomenal music under the stars.”

“Art Blakey once said: ‘No America, no jazz.’ Jazz is indigenous to the United States and historically deeply influenced by Jewish culture and musical modes, so it makes sense to celebrate the Sabbath this way on the July Fourth weekend,” Zasloff said. “We’re not only going to jazz up some of the classic Jewish melodies, but we’re going to add in jazz standards as creative interpretations of some of the prayers.

“It should be a perfect celebration of being Jewish in America as we combine prayer and music outside in nature.”

People are invited to picnic and hear the musicians warming up at 6 p.m. Services begin at 7.

Temple Ner Simcha is an inclusive community with no membership dues, no cost for High Holiday services, and no bar/bat mitzvah fees or tutoring costs.

Weekly outdoor services are held every Friday night from now through Aug. 31 at Oak Canyon Community Park.

For more information on the services, synagogue or High Holiday tickets, go to

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