Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

March 20, 2014

Pre-Passover musical journey of freedom

Temple, Baptist church uniting for spiritual evening

The Andover Townsman

---- — Andover’s Temple Emanuel is joining with Andover Baptist Church to observe the approaching Passover season with an evening of spiritual song celebrating the themes of liberation and freedom.

The program set for Friday, March 28, at 7 p.m. at Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, looks to acknowledge the strong bonds between the African American and Jewish communities.

“Spiritual Music of Freedom” will feature a traditional Friday night Shabbat service with a musical emphasis on bringing together people with a shared history of oppression.

The evening begins with a brief service led by Rabbi Robert Goldstein and Cantor Idan Irelander. Then, Andover Baptist Church Choir and Musical Ensemble under Music Director Michael Belcher will perform.

In a release, Goldstein said it’s only fitting for the two groups to join together two weeks before Passover.

“Passover commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery,” he said. “Themes from the Biblical Exodus story found their way into many of the spirituals sung by African Americans in the years leading up to the end of slavery.

“In addition to the music, there is a long and celebrated history of mutual cooperation between Jews and African Americans in the civil rights movement. We are happy to host Andover Baptist Church and continue such cooperation.”

Irelander added that music is “a universal language and a connection to our past cultural similarities” and said that it will be an honor for Temple Emanuel’s talented congregants to perform with the guest singers from Andover Baptist Church.

Temple Emanuel of Andover is the largest Reform Congregation north of Boston and an active member of the Union for Reform Judaism. It has become the religious and educational center for Reform Judaism in the Merrimack Valley.

For more information on Temple Emanuel, including services, social action initiatives, and youth and adult education, call 978-470-1356 or visit