Concert commemorating local deaths from COVID will feature STL Jewish leader

Eric Berger, Associate Editor

A memorial concert for St. Louisans who died from COVID-19 will feature the Jewish Community Relations Council of St Louis executive director.

The concert on Saturday, Oct. 2 at Art Hill in Forest Park will include a choral performance and speakers such as Maharat Rori Picker Neiss of JCRC, along with St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and religious leaders.

The Requiem of Light Memorial Concert comes in the wake of more than 2,800 deaths in St. Louis city and county due to the virus, according to the municipalities’ data. And more than 10,000 people have died across Missouri.

The event was organized by Rebecca Messbarger, a professor and cultural historian of medicine at Washington University.

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“Public grief rituals or memorials are an ancient and near-universal response to death that proclaim the loss of life in order to help individuals and communities heal,” Messbarger stated in a news release. “For many of the recently deceased and grieving in our community, their stories remain untold, the agony of their loss unrelieved. History reminds us that silence is another affliction of deadly contagion.”

Picker Neiss wrote in an email to the Jewish Light that she wanted to participate because “for far too many people, COVID took a loved one but also took their ability to mourn in the ways that we usually mourn, surrounded by family and loved ones. And COVID has taken so much from all of us. We need a way to mark this moment, as a community, and to give space for that sadness, for that grief, and for that loss.”

Philip A. Woodmore, a composer and founder of the Marquette High School Gospel Choir, will serve as artistic director of the event, which will also feature singers and musicians from Opera Theatre of St. Louis and elsewhere.

The event is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m., Oct. 2.

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