A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Musical ‘Passover Project’ at City Winery will benefit Jewish Light

Bill Motchan
Brothers Lazaroff and a host of musicians will perform at “The Passover Project: A Musical Seder,” at City Winery on Thursday, April 18.

About a year ago, on March 16 to be exact, Michael Dorf opened City Winery St. Louis, an entertainment venue, restaurant, winery and event space at the City Foundry in Midtown. When I interviewed him at the time of the opening, our conversation ended with me asking Dorf, who is Jewish and a Washington University graduate, about the annual Downtown Seder for Passover he has championed in New York City since 1991.

The last line in my story, with regard to a possible seder at the new City Winery here, ended with the line: “Maybe next year in St. Louis.”

Well, guess what? It’s happening St. Louis, no maybes about it. Tickets are on sale for “The Passover Project: A Musical Seder,” at City Winery on Thursday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6). More about the particulars of the event in a minute; first, a little background.

The Downtown Seder began at the legendary Knitting Factory, an avant-garde nightspot in N.Y.’s East Village that Dorf owned before opening the first City Winery, in New York City, in 2008. The seder typically takes place a week or so before Passover. As Dorf once explained to Tablet Magazine, “This (isn’t) really a substitute for someone’s home seder, but rather a supplement.”

Over the years, the N.Y. seder has featured musicians, actors, comedians and politicians, including Lou Reed, Dr. Ruth, Al Franken, Alex Edelman, Israeli musician David Broza, Modi, Judy Gold and New York Mayor Eric Adams, among others.

After all, there is more than one way to tell the age-old Passover story of Exodus — hundreds of versions of the Haggadah are out there — so why not reimagine the biblical narrative through the arts, Dorf reasoned. 

Why not, indeed.

That got me thinking: Why not borrow the idea and create a lively, fun, alternative Passover seder that brings the community together and highlights some of St. Louis’ abundant musical and theatrical talent. And why not have some of the proceeds go the benefit the Jewish Light.

Once I got the OK and a firm date from Dorf and City Winery to host the event, I enlisted David and Jeff Lazaroff — frontmen of the band Brothers Lazaroff — and Rabbi James Stone Goodman to help produce this music-filled, interactive, alternative seder. 

“Rabbi Goodman had discussed the idea of a musical Passover event in the past, but not until Ellen Futterman approached us did we have the motivation to see what we could put together,” David Lazaroff said, adding that he and his brother wanted it to be very different from their annual Hanukkah Hullabaloo, which they have spearheaded for 13 years and counting. 

“When Ellen approached us with this idea, we thought it would be a great chance to support the Jewish Light and help create a collaborative event for and with the community.” 

Attendees of what will be called the Passover Project can expect a family-friendly but decidedly grown-up seder with music, readings, poetry, song, grooves, audience interaction and some Passover teachings connected throughout.

St. Louis-based artists joining Brothers Lazaroff and Rabbi Goodman will include:

• Peter Martin, a Grammy-award winning jazz pianist, educator and founder of Open Studio, an\online jazz education platform that was featured in the New York Times.

Peter Martin

Martin has performed and recorded on six continents with Wynton Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Betty Carter, Christian McBride and Joshua Redman, as well as with his own ensembles. He co-hosts the acclaimed music podcast You’ll Hear It” with Adam Maness.

• Rob Koritz, drummer for the acclaimed band Dark Star Orchestra, which has been helping to keep the music and live concert experience of the Grateful Dead alive for the past 25 years. 

Rob Koritz

• Songstress Anita Jackson, who has recorded as a background vocalist for Bette Midler, Patti Austin, Mariah Carey and many more and has been a featured player with the St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre. She will release her first solo album, “Life is Beautiful” at a concert, March 30 at The Sheldon

Anita Jackson
Anita Jackson

• Guitarist and singer-songwriter Joey Ferber, whose current tenure with the future funk/avant garde ensemble Blvck Spvde and the Cosmos, came to a point of fruition with their debut single release “DOOM,” which coincided with a set at St. Louis’ premier festival, Music at the Intersection. 

• Mandolin player extraordinaire David Goldenberg, one of the first mandolin graduates of the Berklee College of Music and winner of a variety of contests including the National Mandolin Contest, Telluride Bluegrass Band Contest and Rockygrass Mandolin Contest.

Michael Tzinberg, who plays fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin. He is one half of the Old Time/Science Fiction band Wild Mountain Thyme Machine.

• Rebekah Scallet, artistic director of the New Jewish Theatre, who is in the process of recruiting other NJT actors to join her and lead some Passover readings.

Reserved tickets range from $36 to  $72 with proceeds going to benefit the\Jewish Light. Some non-kosher seder dishes fashioned by City Winery’s culinary team will be featured for purchase (in addition to the venue’s regular menu), as well as the traditional four glasses of wine curated as a special flight (single glasses can also be purchased separately). In addition, guests can nibble on complimentary matzah and macaroons, which will be on each table gratis, along with a seder plate.

All of the talent involved is generously donating their time to help the\Jewish Light\with this “Friend Raiser” and shine a light on the importance of Jewish journalism and its future.

For tickets and more information online, visit bit.ly/Passover-Project or scan the QR code below.

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About the Contributor
Bill Motchan, writer/photographer
Bill worked in corporate communications for AT&T for 28 years. He is a former columnist for St. Louis Magazine. Bill has been a contributing writer for the Jewish Light since 2015 and is a three-time winner of the Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish Journalism. He also is a staff writer for the travel magazine Show-Me Missouri. Bill grew up in University City. He now lives in Olivette with his wife and cat, Hobbes. He is an avid golfer and a fan of live music. He has attended the New Orleans Jazzfest 10 times and he has seen Jimmy Buffett in concert more t han 30 times between 1985 and 2023.