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Jewish Women of Central Mass. offers Evening of Entertainment and Unity

jon stetsonBy Laura Porter

WORCESTER – On Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., the Jewish Women of Central Massachusetts (JWCM) will present a program featuring mentalist Jon Stetson and singer Rivkah Krinsky at Congregation Beth Israel in Worcester.

Billed as “Enlighten Mind, Body and Soul,” the evening of marvelous mystery and soulful music will offer universally appealing entertainment on the eve of the High Holidays.

The goal of the JWCM, formed in 2010, is to bring together Jewish women in the area – of all ages, denominations and backgrounds – to emphasize connection and commonality.

Its member organizations are the Auxiliary of the Jewish Healthcare Center; the Beth Israel Sisterhood; Jewish Federation of Central Mass; Greater Worcester Chapter of Hadassah; Temple Emanuel Sinai; and the Central Mass Torah Center.

Since its inception, the group has sponsored programs likely to be broadly popular, intended, as this one is billed, as “an evening of Unity and Entertainment.”

Jon Stetson is a world-renowned mentalist who has appeared before three American presidents, the king of Sweden, the royal family of Monaco and hundreds of companies. He served as both consultant and a model for the CBS drama, “The Mentalist.”

rivkah krinskyJewishjukebox.com describes Rivkah Krinsky, the Australian daughter of a rabbi who now lives with her family in a religious community in Brooklyn, as “the fresh new face of Jewish music for women and girls alike.”  She has released a CD, “In Your Hands” (Sameach Music).  Krinsky, who also plays the guitar, “breathes life and meaning into the words of each song.”

The JWCM emerged in the course of a conversation, recalls Barbara Rossman. She and Sheva Fogelman Liberow, the daughter of Rabbi Hershel Fogelman

(z”l ) of Worcester’s Yeshiva, were talking one day when they realized how alike they were.

“She’s very Orthodox, and I’m very Reform, but it didn’t matter,” says Rossman. “There is so much division within the community and everyone’s fighting for programs and space.  We decided we should do something.”

That “something” involved women reaching out to women from “all branches of Judaism and groups representing Israeli, national and local interests” in Worcester and Westborough.  All embraced the general premise of cooperation and community rather than competition.

Lydia Borenstein stepped forward as the unofficial secretary and treasurer of the group.

The first goal was to organize “a universal program that would appeal to everyone,” says Rossman.

To that end, in 2010, the JFCM brought in writer Joanne Caras, who spoke to nearly 200 women from teenagers to those in their nineties about her book, The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook.

Two years later, the JWCM sponsored a presentation by Reyna Simnegar, author of Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride, who shared her story of growing up Catholic in Venezuela. At the age of 12, she discovered that her ancestors had been Marranos, Jews forced to convert for protection in 15th century Spain or Portugal.

September’s JWCM program is lighter, sure to provoke amazement and laughter. Jon Stetson’s fast-paced, interactive approach captivates: “Imaginations are wowed, stretched and captured, as thoughts are revealed and minds are being read,” notes his website.

Indeed, says Barbara Rossman, he is so popular that the JWCM had to renegotiate dates with him because “Michelle Obama needed him for a benefit.”

Though the evening is billed as program for women, men are welcome.

Tickets are $10 and there will be a raffle to help defray costs for the program. For more information and to RSVP, call Lydia Borenstein at (508) ­688­-7926.

But then Jon Stetson probably already knows you’re coming.

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