Buffalo not kosher?

No, no… not the animal (I assume it’s got the proper kinds of hooves, being related to cattle); the orchestra.

The management of the Buffalo Philharmonic has caused something of a ruckus by scheduling a pops concert on the first night of Passover:

The nearly sold-out April 19 concert, entitled "They’re Playing Our Song," features BPO Guest Conductor Marvin Hamlisch with comedian Robert Klein and singer and actress Lucie Arnaz.

"In most people’s minds, Passover is the first or second most important holiday of the Jewish calendar," said Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld of Temple Beth Zion. "If we draw parallels in terms of importance, Passover and Christmas are equivalent, and I can’t see the BPO scheduling a concert on Christmas unless maybe it was a Christmas concert."

Rosenfeld suggested the BPO "reach out to subscribers and others in an appropriate way" to deal with hurt feelings.

Rabbi Irwin Tanenbaum of Temple Beth Am in Amherst called it "an unfortunate choice of scheduling.

"I’m very surprised that in our community, which enjoys tremendous Jewish support of the arts, that they would have chosen this path," said Tanenbaum, president of the Buffalo Board of Rabbis. "Clearly, this was done without a thought to the Jewish community."

Daniel Hart, the BPO’s executive director, said the date was the only one offered by a representative of Hamlisch, who is Jewish. He said there have been only a few complaints about the scheduling of the concert, which is still three months away.

It’s an interesting question. Many orchestra contracts have provisions letting religiously observant musicians out of services that are scheduled for religious holidays. Our contract in Milwaukee guarantees us a week’s vacation around Christmas Day and no services on Easter Sunday before 7 PM or between 12 PM and 3 PM on Good Friday, as well as optional attendance for Jewish musicians for services scheduled for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. But technically the only religious holiday on which a concert could not be held is Christmas Day.

No doubt BPO management could have handled this better; possibly by doing as Rabbi Rosenfeld suggested and reaching out in advance to Jewish subscribers and donors (although I suspect no one would be happy if the management kept records of just which subscribers and donors were Jewish). But Hamlisch is a big draw, and not grabbing him on whatever date he was available would not have been very good management either.

Besides, there’s only one religious holiday on which no one schedules any live entertainment, and that’s Super Bowl Sunday.

Greetings to any blog surfers coming here via Charles Noble’s Daily Observations, and thanks to my brother-in-bratsche-blogging for the plug. And if Barenboim can become a Palestinian citizen, why can’t a nice Jewish viola operator give himself a semi-Arabic nom de blog?


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