Hancock Shaker Village and Congregation Knesset Israel

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Hancock Shaker Village and Congregation Knesset Israel will present two collaborative events exploring the shared customs from the Shaker tradition and from Judaism, two cultures of peace.

“Common Ground between Shakers and Jews,” a panel discussion between noted Shaker and Jewish scholars Rabbi Steve Fuchs, and Dr. M. Stephen Millerand Shaker historian Stephen Paterwic  will take place on Sunday, May 31st, 4:00pm at Congregation Knesset Israel Synagogue (16 Colt Road in Pittsfield, Massachusetts). Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public by reservation. RSVP to Knesset Israel at 413-445-4872.

Rabbi Stephen Fuchs is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford, Connecticut. He graduated from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, was ordained a Rabbi at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, earned a Masters Degree in Hebrew Letters, a graduate certificate in Jewish Communal Service and in 1992, he received a Doctor of Ministry degree in Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Nashville, Tennessee. In March 1999, he received a Doctor of Divinity Degree, Honoris Causa, from the Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Before coming to Connecticut, Rabbi Fuchs was Senior Rabbi for eleven years at The Temple Congregation Ohabai Shalom in Nashville, Tennessee, and previously, the first full-time spiritual leader at Temple Isaiah in Columbia, Maryland for thirteen years.

M. Stephen Miller has been collecting a variety of Shaker-produced materials for more than thirty years. For most of that time he has also been involved in researching and publishing in the arena of Shaker material culture. His own most recent books are From Shaker Lands and Shaker Hands (2007) and Inspired Innovations: A Celebration of Shaker Ingenuity (due in December, 2009). University Press of New England is the publisher. Mr. Miller also served as an Overseer at Hancock Shaker Village from 1992-2001 and was co-curator for the exhibits “Marketing Community Industries 1830-1930” in 1988 and “Handled With Care” in 2006 at the Village.

Stephen J. Paterwic is the leading non-university based historian of the Shaker movement. He is a frequent speaker at Shaker-themed events and has published numerous articles about Shaker history. He wrote the long opening essay for From Shaker Lands and Shaker Hands titled "Who Were the Shakers?" His most recent publication is the Historical Dictionary of the Shakers (2008). Mr. Paterwic is presently an Overseer at Hancock Shaker Village.

 “Shaker Shalom: A Celebration of Shared Traditions in Song, Cooking, and Community,” a joint fundraising event with proceeds benefiting Hancock Shaker Village’s education and interpretive programs and Congregation Knesset Israel Synagogue, will take place on Sunday, June 28th, 4:30pm at Hancock Shaker Village. This event will include a reception, music program, gourmet dinner, and live and silent auctions. The music program will feature performances by Deborah Rentz-Moore, Jeffrey Siegel, and Jonathan Denmark illustrating the intriguing similarities between the Shaker and Jewish music traditions. Former Hancock Shaker Village curator Christian Goodwillie will provide commentary. The performance is sure to spark conversation at the dinner that will follow in the historic Brick Dwelling.

Hailed for her “lustrous” voice (The Boston Globe), mezzo-soprano Deborah Rentz-Moore performs with some of the most celebrated ensembles in North America, including the Boston Early Music Festival, the Handel & Haydn Society, Aston Magna, Emmanuel Music, The Boston Camerata, New York Collegium, and Magnificat. A specialist in early music, Ms. Rentz-Moore has been interested in Shaker Music for 15 years. She joined the Boston Camerata for their 2000 Shaker recording, “Golden Harvest,” recorded with the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake, Maine. Following research on the “Hancock Hymnal: 1850,” she premiered a new piece by composer Thomas Oboe Lee inspired by the Shaker tune, “Grateful Remembrance,” at Seiji Ozawa Hall. The Hawthorne String Quartet and Terezìn Chamber Music Foundation were co-sponsors of the project. In 2005, she premiered the collaborative dance/music production, “Borrowed Light” with the Tero Saarinnen Dance Company and Boston Camerata, and has toured worldwide with this production.

Singer Jeffrey Siegel specializes in Jewish liturgical music. He received professional liturgical training through the Goldblum Tefillah Institute and serves as a lay cantor at Congregation Knesset Israel.

Hancock Shaker Village resident chef Michael Roller (former executive chef at the acclaimed luxury resort, Blantyre, in Lenox, Mass.) will prepare the festive dinner, which will include with both fish and vegetarian options. There will be live and silent auctions. Items are available to preview online at www.hancockshakervillage.org prior to the event.

Tickets to “Shaker Shalom” are $150, $250, $500, or $1,000, with a range of enticing benefits offered at each ticket level. Tickets may be purchased by calling Hancock Shaker Village at 413.443.0188 or online at www.hancockshakervillage.org.

Hancock Shaker Village is located on Route 20 in Pittsfield, Mass., just west of the junction of Routes 20 and 41. For GPS purposes, the Village is located at 34 Lebanon Mountain Rd., Hancock, Mass. 01237. Or, enter 1843 W. Housatonic St., Pittsfield, Mass. 01201 then proceed 1/2 mile further West on Rt. 20 to the parking lot.

About Hancock Shaker Village

Hancock Shaker Village is one of the most visited cultural venues in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Visited by over 60,000 people annually, the Village brings the Shaker story to life, and preserves it for future generations. We are a center for reflection on principled living and believe that the values the Shakers embraced – equality, community, sustainability, and responsible land stewardship resonate for us today. For more information, call 800.817.1137 or see www.hancockshakervillage.org.

About Congregation Knesset Israel

Congregation Knesset Israel is a warm and welcoming egalitarian synagogue serving the entire Berkshire region. Founded in 1893, Knesset Israel is a friendly, caring, dynamic synagogue community committed to participatory prayer, life-long Jewish learning, Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World), and sharing the joys and challenges of life. For more information, call 413.445.4872or see www.knessetisrael.org.
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