Get ready for a sweet “high and lonesome” Bluegrass Weekend at Temple Beth-El of Great Neck as they present Matthew Check, composer of Temple Beth-El’s Hashkiveinu with bluegrass arrangements of Shabbat melodies on banjo, guitar, mandolin, and fiddle for a Bluegrass Weekend.
The Newtown, Penn. bred artist boasts a resume that even the word eclectic can’t fully encompass. Check moved to New York City initially to take graduate classes at the Jewish Theological Seminary. But he spent much of his time playing bluegrass banjo in jams downtown.
Eventually, he would combine his love of bluegrass and Judaism into something he dubbed “jewgrass”—which yielded an album colorfully entitled The Bluegrass Kabbalat Shabbat Experience. He was also the first banjo player for Gangstagrass and played on the 2010 Emmy Nominated Song “Long Hard Times to Come.”
A special congregational dinner catered by W Kosher Events will take place on Friday, Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m. and includes a special country menu with specialties such as Southern Fried Chicken, Smoke BBQ Brisket Po Boys, vegetarian options, and lots of fixins.
Following dinner, the 7 p.m. Erev Shabbat Service (‘Bluegrass on the Bima’) will feature Check playing original bluegrass melodies and arrangements of Shabbat favorites. It will be a relaxing, refreshing, harmony-infused service, featuring banjo, guitar, fiddle and mandolin music.
On Saturday, Feb. 11, at 9:15 a.m., the regular Torah Study session will feature a special “Zemer Torah,” a song about the week’s Torah portion, written and performed by Check especially for Temple Beth-El.
Following Torah study, at 10:30 a.m. there will be a ‘Shabbat ShabBanjo’ morning service where Check joins the morning service, adding banjo to barchu and much more music! Everyone is invited to join afterward for a bagel kiddush.
Friday night dinner is $15/adult, and free for kids under 18. Bagel kiddush is free with RSVP. These events are open to the entire community, but registration is required.
For more information on attending Bluegrass Shabbat weekend programs, contact Joy Allen at [email protected] or call 516-487-0900. More details may be found at www.tbegreatneck.org.