By Francesca Norsen Tate
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
One year ago, the congregation of Park Slope’s Congregation Beth Elohim was given refuge in the sanctuary of neighboring Old First Reformed Church for Rosh Hashanah services while the ceiling of their synagogue was being repaired.
Imagine their astonishment when history seemed to repeat itself — moments before service ushering the Jewish New Year was to begin, huge chunks of plaster began to fall from the ceiling of the sanctuary of the historic church, which was built in 1891.
In September 2011, just 15 minutes before Rosh Hashanah services, large chunks of plaster began to fall from the ceiling at Old First Reformed Church. The plaster nearly hit Rabbi Andy Bachman in the head, prompting a sinking sense of déjà vu. Bachman and his congregation were holding services in the church because the ceiling of Beth Elohim had begun to collapse two years before.
Now that Old First Church is unable to use its own sanctuary, Congregation Beth Elohim has extended a generous reciprocal hand, offering its synagogue for “Old First’s” first annual Park Slope “Messiah” Sing-Along on Thursday, Dec. 13.
Also presenting the sing-along will be the Brooklyn Community Chorus and the Broklyn Conservatory of Music.All proceeds for the event benefit the Old First Ceiling Restoration Fund.
The program draws its inspiration from the joyous experiences that the Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, Old First Church’s pastor, had as a child.
Pastor Meeter said, “I grew up singing 'Messiah’ choruses with my family in front of the stereo in the living room. We had a couple [of] scores and looked on together, my brother and I aspiring to equal my dad’s strong tenor. I love to sing the 'Messiah’ even more than to hear it. So I thought, why not here? I've been wishing for this for years, and now we've got the right mix of leaders to get it going.”
The instrumentalists will be conducted by Nelly Vuksic of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. Featured performers and soloists will include Aleeza Meir (continuo and artistic director), Josh Breitzer (tenor), Donna Breitzer (soprano), Jeff Mandelbaum (countertenor), Jeff Spurgeon (baritone), and Nancy Ranger (oboist), as well as many other accomplished artists.
The Messiah Sing-Along runs from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 13. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. The entrance to Congregation Beth Elohim is at 274 Garfield Place, off Eighth Avenue.