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KC Leadership Tomorrow gives summer interns valuable experience while helping nonprofits

KC Leadership Tomorrow gives summer interns valuable experience while helping nonprofits

Rae Pfau is the first paid employee the Mitzvah Garden has ever had. She serves this summer as the garden’s volunteer coordinator and is being paid through KC Leadership Tomorrow, a summer internship... Read more...

The Blue Card available to assist older Holocaust survivors; JFS makes local connection

The Blue Card available to assist older Holocaust survivors; JFS makes local connection

Every year, the number of Holocaust survivors continues to dwindle. Statistics indicate that of the 75,000 Holocaust survivors living in the United States, about one-third live below poverty level. While... Read more...

B’nai Jehudah announces ‘interim’ year of music

Coleen Dieker The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah has announced to its congregation that it is embarking on a journey of musical exploration that they are calling “an interim year of music.”... Read more...

Listening Post

CDC teachers Barbara Abramowitz and Liz Bigus. STUDENT BECOMES CO-TEACHER — About 20 years ago Elizabeth Bigus was a 3-year-old preschool student in Barbara Abramowitz’s class at the Jewish Community... Read more...

Visitors, residents send K.C. folks messages they are safe

Members of the Jewish Federation’s Shorashim 2 mission visited an Iron Dome command center outside of Ashkelon in May 2014. Shorashim 2 was a mission for men only to learn about contemporary issues facing... Read more...

Special fundraising campaigns initiated: Israel needs you now

Late last week the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City, through the Jewish Federations of North American, launched Operation Relief and Respite in response to the current tensions in Israel. Read more...

Survivorship courses to help cancer survivors incorporate ‘Back in the Swing’ lifestyle

Among other things, Barbara Unell spoke about the ‘Back in the Swing Cookbook’ at The Duke Cancer Center Survivorship Center in Durham, N.C., last fall. “This is a plan for wellness versus illness.”... Read more...

NCJW Back to School Store offers new clothing, school supplies to underprivileged kids

National Council of Jewish Women’s Back to School Store will impact 200 children living in poverty in the Kansas City metro area, primarily from Jackson County, Mo., and Johnson County, Kan. Read more...

Israeli Scouts to bring high-energy performance to Campus, B’nai Jehudah

Friendship Caravan Assif While things in their home country are a little tense, a group of young Israelis will be here to share their talents and their love of their country. On Friday, July 25, the Friendship... Read more...

Listening Post

Howard Haas (left) and Rabbi Morey Schwartz in Jerusalem. MELTON@HBHA — While traveling in Israel, Howard Haas, head of school at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, met with Rabbi Morey Schwartz in Jerusalem... Read more...

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Letters to the Editor

Why can’t Jews speak Hebrew? How come so few Jews in North America know how to speak Hebrew? Sure a lot of them know how to read Hebrew from Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and there is a flowery English translation... Read more...

Why we’re letting our daughter stay in Israel in wartime

Let’s just say that missiles and bomb shelters were not on the itinerary of our 16-year-old daughter’s pilgrimage trip to Israel this summer. I spoke to her this morning. Yeah, the alarms are unnerving,... Read more...

Letter to the Editor

Half-truths and anti-Semitism I was irate after watching the late CNN news on July 10. Anderson Cooper pretended to deliver a factual report about Israel’s bombing of Arab residences, with a slight... Read more...

Amidst turmoil, life in Israel continues to be meaningful

My mother wants me to come home. I’ve been calling her every day, and she wants me on a plane immediately. She has been watching the news and following events as they unfold here in Israel and she is... Read more...

Letter to the Editor

Conference gives families hope My husband Harold and I were fortunate to attend the Mucolipidosis Type 4 (ML4) Foundation Family & Research Conference last month in Atlanta. ML4, a relatively unknown... Read more...

We mourn three senseless deaths caused by hate, again

Our Jewish community has held two memorial services in the last three months — 77 days apart to be exact. Thousands of people attended the first one, as the Jewish community grieved for the senseless... Read more...

‘Soul Encounters’ reminds us of Rebbe’s message

Rabbi Sholom Wineberg The name “Soul Encounters” appropriately identified the program at Chabad House Center, which took place Tuesday, July 1, 3rd of Tammuz. Nearly 100 people attended. Read more...

Letter to the Editor

No champion of Jewish values I cannot share Washington Jewish Week/JNS.orgreporter Dmitriy Shapiro’s lament for the demise of Eric Cantor’s political career (The Chronicle, June 19, or www.jns.org),... Read more...

Federation mission gives participants unique look at Eastern European Jews

Alan Widman (left) and Stacey Belzer (right) visit with Sybil Sylvian in June. Sylvian’s picture was featured on Page 1 of The Chronicle in January as part of a story about the KU Hillel European Leadership... Read more...

'State of Deception' exhibition should not be missed

“Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert.” — Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf,” 1924   I attended a press preview this week for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums... Read more...

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Celebrations

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Chase Bat Mitzvah

Chase Bat Mitzvah

Debbie and Jeff Chase announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Talia Faye, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, at Congregation Beth Torah. Read more...

Passer-Wolkofsky Engagement

Passer-Wolkofsky Engagement

Sandy and Steve Passer announce the engagement of their daughter, Emily Passer, to Peter Wolkofsky, son of Michael and Vicky Wolkofsky of Queens, N.Y. Read more...

Zwillenberg 50th Anniversary

Morris and Linda (Fein) Zwillenberg will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday, July 26. They were married at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Hartford, Conn., on July 26, 1964. Read more...

Halasz Birth

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz and Scott Halasz of Dayton, Ohio, announce the birth May 6 of a son, Ethan Falk Halasz. They are also the parents of another son, Jonah. Read more...

Unell Bat Mitzvah

Joe and Marcia Unell announce the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Alyssa Unell, on June 26 at Haas Promenade in Jerusalem. Read more...

Zeldin B'nai Mitzvah

Ashlyn and Alexis Zeldin celebrated their Bat Mitzvah commitment ceremony on June 6 in Santa Barbara, Calif. They are the daughters of Janine and Kevin Zeldin of St Louis, Mo. Read more...

Badzin-Fineman Engagement

Jim and Fern Badzin, Leawood, announce the engagement of their daughter, Brooke Michelle Badzin, to Nathan Gabriel Fineman, both of Chicago, son of Glen and Holly Fineman, Omaha, Neb. Read more...

Bergman-Kaplan Engagement

Victor and Susan Bergman announce the engagement of their daughter, Ruthie Bergman, to Asher Kaplan, son of Shlomo Kaplan, Loch Sheldrake, N.Y., and Judith Kaplan, Boca Raton, Fla. Read more...

Reidy Wedding

Jennifer Mayer and James Reidy were married Saturday, March 1, at the Overland Park Marriott. The ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff of The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Read more...

Alpert Birth

Jeremy and Ashley Alpert of Overland Park announce the birth May 28 of a son, Levi Caleb. Levi joins big brother Jonah Doni. Read more...

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Obituaries

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Silverman, Inge B.

Inge B. Silverman, 83, of Leawood, passed away Thursday, July 17, 2014, at Menorah Medical Center. Read more...

Warshawsky, Arnold

Warshawsky, Arnold

Arnold Warshawsky passed away on Friday, July 18, 2014, after a lengthy battle with health issues for almost a decade, including COPD. Read more...

Waxman, Michael Bernard

Michael Bernard Waxman, 63, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Baldwin City, Kan., on July 16, 2014. Read more...

Chick, Stephen

Stephen Bruce Chick of Prairie Village passed away peacefully on Monday, July 7, 2014. Read more...

Freed, Ronald

Ronald Lee Freed passed away on Monday, July 14, 2014. Read more...

Gladstone, Donald

Donald H. Gladstone, 93, of Overland Park, passed away Thursday, July 10, 2014. Read more...

Hammer, Robert L.

Robert L. Hammer, 73, passed away Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Read more...

Hoffman, Dorothy

Dorothy Lillian Hoffman, 91, of Leawood, passed away on Sunday, July 6, 2014, at Village Shalom. Read more...

Megerman, Charles

Charles Megerman, 67, of Overland Park, passed away Monday, July 14, 2014, at his home. Read more...

Plotsky, Edward

Edward Plotsky, 68, of Reno, Nev., passed away Tuesday, July 8, 2014, at his home. A private service and interment will be in Reno. Read more...

Legendary pianist Leon Fleisher looking forward to performing at Helzberg Hall

Legendary pianist Leon Fleisher has performed in Kansas City before. But he’s never performed at Helzberg Hall at the relatively new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, a concert hall he hears is both amazing and extraordinary. That’s not the only thing that excites him about coming to Kansas City and performing with the Kansas City Symphony. He finds it a great pleasure to work with its music director, Michael Stern.

“I’ve known him since he was a toddler. I’m enormously fond of him. I was very fond of and rather to close to his father, whom I miss very much,” said Fleisher in a recent interview from his home in Baltimore.

“I think you’re very lucky in Kansas City to have him as your music director.”

Fleisher will perform at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, Feb. 7 and 8, and 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Feb. 9. He will also host a piano master class at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, in Helzberg Hall. For ticket information, call 816-471-0400.

Stern said Fleisher has been one of his heroes for a long time.

“Of course, he has cast an enormous shadow over the entire course of music in our country for almost 70 years. I grew up with his legendary recordings, like so many others, but for me, the connection is more personal. I suppose his long friendship with my family when I was growing up, personal and professional, made it natural that he should be such an inspiration to me as a young student when I was developing my musical thinking. But that might have happened anyway — several generations not only of pianists but of all musicians in our country were lucky enough to have been inspired by him,” Stern said.

The Symphony’s music director went on to say that more than a pianist, Fleisher “is that incredibly rare artist who always combined unusual and truly original insight with a breathtaking ability to deliver the intent of the music on the page.”

“When Leon touches the keyboard, something magical happens, in the sound, in the weight of the notes, in the humanity of his communication. And when he is not at the piano, whether on the podium or in the teaching studio, that inspiration is no less palpable,” Stern said.

“It would be easy and accurate to see him as a link to a golden era of great musicians. But what is great about him is here he is, today, an incredibly vital musical force (with a wonderfully irreverent sense of humor) still making unforgettable music. When I officially assumed the post of music director of the Kansas City Symphony in 2005, he was our dream soloist in my inaugural concert. To have him back for the first time in Helzberg Hall, playing the Ravel Left Hand concerto as only he can, is a deeply moving moment for all of us onstage, an incredibly meaningful celebration of his 85th birthday and of his extraordinary musical spirit.”

Fleisher made his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1944, and in 1952, he became the first American to win the prestigious Queen Elisabeth of Belgium competition, establishing himself as one of the world’s premier classical pianists. At the height of his success, he was suddenly struck silent at age 36 with a neurological affliction later identified as focal dystonia, rendering two fingers on his right hand immobile. Rather than end his career, Fleisher began focusing on repertoire for the left hand only, conducting and teaching. Not until some 40 years later was he able to return to playing with both hands after undergoing experimental treatments using a regimen of rolfing and “botulinum toxin” (Botox) injections.

He’s been making music virtually his entire life and, he said, “it’s my life. It’s what gives me the greatest pleasure.”

He likes every facet of his work, whether it be playing, conducting or teaching. He said simply, “they are all different aspects of the same thing.”

He chuckles when he tells two stories about how he became a pianist. When he was very young, around four and a half, he remembers his mother giving him a choice — become the first Jewish president or a famous concert pianist.

“After careful consideration it struck me that being a musician was more accessible and I had a better chance of success,” Fleisher said.

While his parents owned an upright piano, Fleisher said neither of them were musical.

“But they were attracted to music and it was a manifestation of a certain kind of culture, I think. It spoke to them, I think, on a deep, emotional level,” he said.

Since his brother was older by five and a half years, he was given piano lessons. But Fleisher said his brother was never really interested in the instrument.

“He was rather cool about the whole thing, but it fascinated me. Those were the days when both doctors and music teachers came to the house and when he had his lessons I used to hide away in the corner and listen and watch very intently. Then when the lesson was over and he went out to the school playground to play ball, they tell me I went to the piano and did all the things that he couldn’t do that the teacher had asked of him. So they figured they were giving lessons to the wrong kid, so they gave them to me,” Fleisher explained.

The world-class pianist has received numerous honors and awards, including the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in 2007. In 2006, he was the subject of the Oscar and Emmy-nominated short documentary film “Two Hands.” In 2010, Doubleday published his memoir, “My Nine Lives: A Memoir of Many Careers in Music,” which he co-wrote with Washington Post music critic Anne Midgette. The book has received rave reviews, including this one by famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

“Most musicians’ skills lie in their ability to be expressive in this non-verbal medium; Leon has the additional gifts of communicating ideas and concepts tactilely, viscerally, emotionally, spiritually and verbally. Generations of musicians, including this one, have been truly blessed to hear him perform and receive his teaching. In this candid memoir, Leon describes the many lives he has led and conveys one of the most significant of lessons: transforming adversity into triumph — and into wisdom.”

Fleisher’s bio notes that he is “85 years young,” which embarrassed the pianist when he heard the phrase. No matter how you describe his age, he said he has not yet considered retirement.

“I’m doing what I love, why should I stop it?” said Fleisher, who admitted he doesn’t travel and perform as much as he used to. “But it’s still probably too much.”

“I have students here at the conservatory, I teach at Peabody, which fittingly is the oldest conservatory in the country. I give about 40 to 50 concerts a year. We try to group cities within the same general geographic area.”

Before he comes to Kansas City, he will play in Galveston, Texas. When he leaves here he will return home for a few days before going to Rochester, N.Y., for a performance.

“God willing I’ll see you in Kansas City.”