Opera singer turns his talents to Yiddish music

If you have a picture in your mind of what a Yiddish singing star should look like, you will be sorely surprised at Anthony Russell, a new face in the world of Yiddish music. Russell, 33, is a 6-foot-1 African American from Oakland, who, according to a press release, is “a Jew by choice, an opera singer by training and a Yiddish singer by calling.”

You can see and hear Russell in concert at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Bertha Abess Sanctuary of Temple Israel of Greater Miami, 137 NE 19th St. in downtown Miami’s Arts and Entertainment district. The concert is presented by the Winter Jewish Music Concert, of which Alan Mason is music director. He will accompany Russell, whose program will include a variety of Yiddish songs, African-American spirituals and other selections.

Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell (his full stage name), a convert to Judaism, made his professional debut with the San Francisco Opera Company in the world premiere of Philip Glass’s opera Appomattox. In the past decade, he has sung with various opera companies in the San Francisco Bay area and the New York City area. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his partner of five years, Rabbi Michael Rothbaum.

According to the press release, over the past year, Russell has gained attention as the new voice of Yiddish songs. Since then, he has performed Yiddish songs in New York, Boston, Toronto, and Northern California. Sunday’s performance will be his first in the Southeast. General admission is $18 and sponsorship tickets are $36 each through Brown Paper Tickets.

For tickets and more information call 800-838-3006 or go to the Winter Jewish Music Concert website at:

Opa-locka mayor receives honorary degree

Warm congratulations to my friend and Opa-locka Mayor Myra L. Taylor, who recently was honored for her "service to God and the community," at graduation ceremonies at the Jacksonville Baptist Theological Seminary. Taylor received an honorary doctorate in divinity.

At the ceremony, Ray VanderWal director of the seminary’s North Miami Beach campus said, "We are privileged to bestow this honor upon Mayor Taylor for her distinguished service to her community, outstanding achievements in humanities, public affairs, education, Christian faith affiliation, and unwavering service to mankind."

Jimmy Burke, a professor at the seminary said Taylor “looks for ways to relate to people, which makes her successful working in a Christian community. The institution wanted to recognize her for excelling in the community."

Taylor has been married for 45 years to Bishop John H. Taylor. In 1978, the couple established the Vankara Educational Center in Opa-locka and co-founded The New beginning Embassy of Praise, also in Opa-locka. They are the parents of eight children and many grandchildren.

The Jacksonville Baptist Theological Seminary has had a campus in South Florida for over 20 years. Many of its graduates serve as ministers and Christian activists in the South Florida community. This year, 35 students graduated in the commencement ceremonies at the Miami Shores Baptist Church.

Church aims for a thrilling Bible school

Gateway Baptist Church, 6500 SW 97th Ave., invites the community to is Vacation Bible School from 6:30 to 9 p.m., June 10-14.

The event will feature a Colossal Coaster World at the church, where children ages 4 through fifth grade can experience the "thrill and excitement" of a day at a theme park. Grades six through 12 will experience “Thrill Seekers with Bible Study” and special activities planned just for them, according to Faye M. Amat, coordinator of professional development at the church.

Adults will be able to participate in a Bible study or visit the parent’s Cafe while their children are in the VBS. The week of fun and learning opportunities is free and open to everyone. For more information call 305-271-1141 or visit the church’s website at:

Conference for fathers and son

The Men’s Ministry at Koinonia Worship Center, 4900 W. Hallandale Beach Blvd., the will host "The Father’s Call" Conference at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the church. The conference is in recognition of Father’s Day and admission is free and open to the public.

In a press release from the church, Elder Mathes Guice, chairman of the Men’s Ministry and conference organizer said, "The conference will provide the opportunity for fathers to share life lessons with boys and young men in our communities. Our goal and mission will be to engage in proactive strategies and activities for corrective change through a number of thought-provoking forums and discussion sessions."

The forums will address three topics: Social Justice; Lessons from Fathers, and Fathers from Boys’ Perspectives. All men and boys are encouraged to attend and participate in the sessions. For more information contact Koinonia Worship Center at 954-964-2901.

St. Simeon to hold Father’s Day Mass

On Fathers Day, St. Simeon Serbian Orthodox Church, 175 NE 154th St., will dedicate the Holy Liturgy for the health of the church.

A Pomen will be served for all the fathers who have been "called to eternal rest." If you go, please submit names to the church, making sure you identify those living or dead.

Also, the church will extend its Orthodox Education classes through the end of June, and then resume in September.

For more information cal the church at 305-944-6890.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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