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The J receives grant for field renovation: Expansion allows for new partnership with Kansas City Christian School and softball for girls

The J receives grant  for field renovation: Expansion allows for new partnership with  Kansas City Christian School and softball for girls

A rendering of the renovated baseball field at The J, which is expected to be complete by summer 2018. Read more...

PrayerWorks provides path for healing

PrayerWorks provides path for healing

The group of people who comprise PrayerWorks meets regularly at Congregation Beth Shalom and is celebrating the group’s 20th anniversary later this month. Shown here are Carol Goldstein (front row, from... Read more...

Jewish Culture Fest celebrates its 10th event, features 45 artists

Handmade felt flowers in multiple colors embellish headbands made by Amy Ravis Furey. Headbands fit all sizes and vary in complexity. Read more...

Listening Post

Screenshot of Sonia Warshawski being interviewed on Fox 4 KC. FLOOD IMPACTS YACHAD JEWISH COMMUNITY FOOD PANTRY — A few weeks ago we reported in this column that the Chabad House — its preschool in... Read more...

New KU Hillel director plans to keep program growing and evolving

In late July, Leadership Tomorrow awarded KU Hillel a $1,200 grant for its Challah for Hunger project. Money from the grant will go to purchase equipment to make challah and education regarding food insecurity.... Read more...

Eucalyptus West: A partnership 15 years in the making

Chef Moshe Basson in front of his restaurant, Eucalyptus, in Jerusalem, Israel. The internationally renowned chef will host a pop-up restaurant during Jewish Culture Fest on Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Jewish... Read more...

Jewish professor leads effort to fight Epstein-Barr virus

Brandon DeKosky

Day of Discovery to offer two new innovative programs

Rabbi Daniel Kirzane of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah, presented a class last year and will do so again this year. On Aug. 27 he will present ‘Jerusalem in Jewish Tradition — Nine Portions... Read more...

Scholar to explain Jewish calendar before total eclipse of the sun

Rabbi Dovid Heber

First person report - KU student experiences horror in West Bank

Paige Krug

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Be a Point of Light

Be a Point of Light

The news coming out of Israel, and here in the U.S., this summer leaves all peace-loving people in shock. A 19-year-old, a person in the prime of life, walks into a Jewish home on Friday night with... Read more...

Funding allows SAFEHOME’s Jewish Outreach program to continue

Funding allows SAFEHOME’s Jewish Outreach program to continue

  Thank you to the Flo Harris Foundation for continued funding of SAFEHOME’s Jewish Outreach Program for 2017-2018. Read more...

Letter to the Editor

‘Safety Net’ for all Governor Brownback proclaimed Aug. 13-19 as Primary Care Safety Net Clinic Week, a time to recognize primary care clinics providing a “safety net” for all, including the... Read more...

For those facing grief and loss, new book provides help

“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and  Finding Joy”  by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant (Knopf, 2017) Many of us like to take some extra time during the summer with a good... Read more...

New historic novel weaves a literary mystery

“The Weight of Ink,”  by Rachel Kadish,  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 hardcover, June 6, 2017 Riveting narrative, well-honed characters, emotionally rewarding novel, rich detail, suspenseful.... Read more...

JWRP impacts mom from Kansas City in unexpected way

Those taking part in this year’s trip to Israeli included Kim Matsil (from left), Renee Polsky Silver, Adina Glass, Addie Harte, Rhea Nadler, Jennifer Schlozman, Vanessa Lehman and Andrea Levitan. Read more...

Reflections from my Berlin journey; am Yisrael chai

Not too long ago, I stood at the Tiergarten public park in the center of Berlin, Germany. That’s just a short distance away from the former location of a villa where more than 60 Nazi bureaucrats worked... Read more...

Israel, haredim, liberal Jews, and the Kotel Hama’aravi

Theodore Herzl founded modern Zionism for a single purpose: to normalize Jewish existence among the nations and thereby end anti-Semitism. Read more...

KU student brings Passover to Lawrence this summer

Danny Caine

Repeal of ACA will cause too much suffering

More than any other vote since President Trump’s inauguration, the vote on repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will determine the character and future of our nation. Read more...

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Unowsky Bar Mitzvah

Unowsky Bar Mitzvah

Micah Unowsky

Okun Klein Engagement

Heather Okun and Daniel Klein

Schifman Nathanson Engagement

Lori Anne Schifman and Craig Mitchell Nathanson

Schifman Birth

Hannah Elizabeth Schifman

Simchowitz elected to Park University board of trustees

The governing body of Park University — its board of trustees — has elected four individuals to serve as members of the Board. Vince Clark, Anthony Melchiorri, Cyprienne Simchowitz, J.D., and Troy... Read more...

60th Wedding Anniversary

Nancy and Philip Reicher

Bass Bat Mitzvah

Tori Bass

Fehr Mankiewicz Engagement

Christopher Mankiewicz and Rachel Lynn Fehr

Truman Medical Centers’ Katz wins Trust Builder Award

Seth Katz

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Fisher, Dr. Harvey F.

Fisher, Dr. Harvey F.

Dr. Harvey F. Fisher, Ph.D., 94, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, at his home. Graveside services were set to take place Wednesday, Aug. 16, at Rose Hill Cemetery. In lieu... Read more...

Silver-Dunbar, Sonja

Silver-Dunbar, Sonja

Sonja Silver-Dunbar, 56, of Kansas City, Missouri, passed away Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, at Lee’s Summit Medical Center. Graveside services were held Aug. 14 at Mount Carmel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers,... Read more...

Yeddis Alexander (Al)

Alexander (Al) Yeddis, 97, passed away on June 8, 2017, in Overland Park, Kansas. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to Jacob and Sonya Yeddis. Read more...

Zarr, Mortimer Benjamin

Ben Zarr, 93, of Overland Park, Kansas, died Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017. Funeral services were held Aug. 11 at Louis Memorial Chapel; burial followed at Rose Hill Cemetery. Read more...

Levitch, Joel

Joel Levitch, 74, a Kansas City native and long-time New Yorker, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Aug. 2, in Fort Lauderdale. The family had a private ceremony. Read more...

Castrianni, Dolores S.

Dolores S. Castrianni, 88, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away Saturday, July 22, 2017, at Menorah Medical Center. Graveside services and burial were held Tuesday, July 25, at Sheffield Cemetery.... Read more...

Kopin, Donald Jay

Donald Kopin, 88, previously of Overland Park, Kansas, died peacefully in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, July 20, 2017, where he had resided over the last year. Donald was born on Aug. 30, 1928, in Kansas... Read more...

Bohm, Elizabeth "Liz"

Elizabeth “Liz” Bohm, 90, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away peacefully surrounded by family on July 15, 2017. Funeral services were held Monday, July 17, at Louis Memorial Chapel; interment... Read more...

Hurst, Morton Leon

Morton L. Hurst, 89, of Overland Park, Kansas, passed away peacefully Saturday, July 15, 2017, at the Kansas City Hospice House. Funeral services were held Tuesday, July 18, at The Louis Memorial Chapel,... Read more...

Krug, Stuart Elliot

Stuart Elliott Krug, 69, of Las Vegas, Nevada, passed away on Saturday, July 15, 2017, from Crohn’s disease. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 20, 2017, at The Louis Memorial Chapel,... Read more...

Lituanian-Israeli violinist thrilled to be part of tribute concert at Helzberg Hall

By Barbara Bayer


Ben Sayevich has played in a lot of concert venues over the years. Next week Sayevich will get his first chance to play at Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts when his Park Piano Trio performs. The concert, to be held at 7:30 p.m. April 4, celebrates the 10th anniversary of Park University’s International Center for Music. Stanislav Ioudenitch, gold medalist of the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and founder of the ICM and his protégé and rising star — and 2009 winner of the London International Piano Competition — Behzod Abduraimov, will also perform in the special Van Cliburn Tribute Concert.

“It is very exciting. It’s definitely one of the best halls in the country, if not in the world. So we are very much looking forward to it,” said Sayevich, a professor of music at Park, in a phone interview last week.

The concert itself, Sayevich said, is an important event.

“It’s commemorating the life of Van Cliburn, a very important, great musician,” he continued. “It is very important for any musician to play a part in a concert for somebody who is so admired by so many people.”

Ioudenitch will perform in the first half of the concert. Ioudenitch is currently associate professor of music and the artistic director of the Youth Conservatory of Music at the ICM. Abduraimov will also perform in the first half of the concert. 

Sayevich is very complimentary of the young pianist.

“At 22 he’s now one of the leading pianists of his generation and he’s a student of ours at Park. He’s trained already with major orchestras such as the Boston Symphony and will play in Carnegie Hall. He’s a very distinguished young pianist,” Sayevich said.

The Park Piano Trio, consisting of Sayevich, Ioudenitch and cellist Daniel Veis, will play Peter Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Trio in A Minor.”

“This piece is very appropriate because it’s very dramatic and very long and it’s celebrating life. It’s very appropriate in memory of Van Cliburn because he won the Tchaikovsky competition in 1958. That was the first Tchaikovsky competition ever and in those days it was the height of the Cold War and he was a young American from Texas winning the gold medal in Moscow. For Russians, he was an incredible symbol of how music transcends politics and he was very much loved by everybody in Russia,” Sayevich said.

“It’s very fitting to play the Tchaikovsky piano tribute because not only is that piece in memory of a great artist, but also it is Tchaikovsky, which Van Cliburn had a very big affinity for all his life.

“Our pianist also won the Van Cliburn competition, so it’s all those connections.”

Sayevich the violinist

Sayevich moved to Israel in 1971 from Lithuania when he was 12. Nine years later, just one day after he completed his Israeli army service, he came to the United States. He’s been in this country ever since.

“I was discharged and then the next day I was in New York and started to audition for schools.”

In September of 1980 he enrolled in the New England Conservatory.

“I came here to study with this very well-known teacher Dorothy Delay,” he said. He earned the prestigious artist diploma from the conservatory and was a teaching assistant to Eric Rosenblith.

When he came to the United States to study, he really didn’t know where he would live after that. But he was offered a job at the University of Kansas a short time before he graduated. So a month after graduation he was living in Lawrence, Kan. 

“I stayed, but my two brothers are in Israel so I go there at least once a year,” said the Jewish violinist who now lives in North Kansas City with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. He was at KU from 1987 until 2006, when he joined the staff at Park.

“My background is very Jewish, not religiously Jewish, but traditionally Jewish. For example my first language at home was Yiddish. My parents talked Yiddish with each other. That was the first language I heard,” said Sayevich, who speaks four languages fluently — English, Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian. He also speaks Lithuanian and German.

Not only has he taught music for many years, he has concertized extensively throughout North America, Europe and the Far East, and has appeared on radio and television as a soloist and chamber musician. He is featured as the soloist in a recording of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” with the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra. One of the most important works in his repertoire is the Violin Concerto by Alban Berg, for which he was chosen to play at the New England Conservatory’s celebration of the composer’s centenary. Sayevich’s interpretation carries the tradition that comes down directly from the composer, through his work on the piece with the late Louis Krasner, the commissioner, dedicatee and the violinist at the work’s premiere.

He said he plays strictly classical music, but “sometimes I play Klezmer music just for fun.”

Sayevich is currently in London playing with the London Chamber Music Society, something he has been doing since 2002 “two, maybe three times a year.”

Tickets for the Van Cliburn Tribute Concert are available through the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts at www.kauffmancenter.org, 816-994-7222 or at the Kauffman Center’s Box Office, 1601 Broadway.