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Original Article Published On The Jerusalem Post

New York’s ‘Bowl Hashanah’ melds the concert and synagogue experience into a new community

NEW YORK – For far too many Jews, Rosh Hashanah elicits less than fond memories of endless prayer services led by a cantor, a sermon by an often uninspiring rabbi and a cavernous synagogue. Thanks to some innovative rabbis and musicians, a decidedly unorthodox way of marking the Jewish New Year has taken hold in the New York area. Welcome to Bowl Hashanah.

The spiritual celebration, which is taking place on the first day of Rosh Hashanah at New York’s famed Brooklyn Bowl music venue and bowling alley, is entering its seventh year of providing a musical experience that features some of the better-known traditional prayers alongside accessible explanations and meditations. The holiday experience will also include Torah reading, shofar blowing, tashlich and a communal vegetarian meal.

The true magic is in the music, with carefully selected and coordinated musical sets throughout the morning and during lunch. The mainstays of the event are the organization Because Jewish and Relix Magazine, long associated with the Grateful Dead and the jam band scene.

The event is being led by Rabbi Daniel Brenner and musical director and trumpeter Jordan McLean of the musical group Antibalas.

“I’ve always loved my suburban synagogue, and still attend services there,” said Mike Greenhaus, editor of Relix Magazine, as he recounted Bowl Hashanah’s evolution. In 2012, he and his then-girlfriend (now wife) were looking for something a little closer to home in New York City. As they were exploring options, they came across Rabbi Dan Ain, who was leading services for the first time at 92YTribeca, a now-closed Manhattan performance space and community center.

“He was leading with Jeremiah Lockwood, who I was already a fan of through his band the Sway Machinery, and his work with the members of Antibalas,” Greenhaus recounted. “We went to his Erev Rosh Hashanah service and were immediately stuck by both their mix of authentic, traditional holiday prayer and modern, equally authentic music, and how the entire service felt tied to our daily lives as 20/30-something New Yorkers working in media and music. It felt, for, the first time, that we had found our spiritual congregation.”

After a few years at 92Y, the Rosh Hashanah experience moved in 2015 to what Greenhaus described as “the perfect venue” – Brooklyn Bowl.

“I know that I wasn’t the only one could really feel that they were having a proudly religious experience alongside the close-knit music community that has been part of my New York family for decades,” Greenhaus said. “Interestingly, everyone also seemed to assume the nooks and crannies they felt comfortable with at a concert. People who like to ride the rail were seated up front. People who like to hover in the back by the bar were huddled in the same place. People who usually watch in the bowling lanes congregated in that space.

“Brooklyn Bowl always felt more like a club house – a gathering place, much like a church or synagogue – than a traditional venue,” he added.

Greenhaus stressed that the expansion of the event couldn’t have succeeded without the involvement of the Brooklyn Bowl’s owner Peter Shapiro, a legend- like figure in the Grateful Dead world who has been instrumental in the career of the post-Dead configuration Dead & Company.

Shapiro, who grew up at Manhattan’s Central Synagogue, was raised with deep connections to the Jewish community. His father, Daniel, was president of New York’s Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and a founder of the Jewish Community Relations Council. His grandfather, Ezra, was a leader in Zionist organizations for more than 50 years: he served as world chairman of the United Jewish Appeal and was one of 19 American Jews summoned by David Ben-Gurion in 1945 to organize American support for the Hagana. He eventually made aliyah.

Shapiro has long noticed that “these venues, and in particular the Brooklyn Bowl, are places of worship… very spiritual places.” He recalls his experience at Wetlands, the Manhattan nightclub he purchased in 1996. “In 48 hours at Wetlands, you would see different- looking people, all looking for the same thing, but going about it in a different way.”

Shapiro felt the Brooklyn Bowl would be the perfect venue for Bowl Hashanah.

“It had the space and layout – the stage is like a bimah,” Shapiro said. “The specs of the Brooklyn Bowl are of at the highest level of audio – the wood has been acoustically treated – and it has been good for people like Robert Plant and Adele.”

The venue is also used for such Jewish-themed events as the Friday Night Jam speaking series, which discusses the connection between music and spirituality across styles and religious backgrounds.

Ain, who relocated to San Francisco in 2018, and now serves as rabbi of a Congregation Beth Sholom, a Conservative synagogue in the Richmond District, recounts the history of the Bowl Hashanah prayer experience. He praises his longtime collaborator at Bowl Hashanah, Jeremiah Lockwood, the front man for The Sway Machinery.

“I was looking for a different type of prayer leader for my downtown services, one who could speak to a new generation while at the same time, recall an older experience that many of us who grew up in the latter part of the 20th century never truly got to experience or appreciate,” Ain said. “I prayed for such a person – who could combine the new and the old – and who had the chops to do both. That’s when Jeremiah and I met. And we’ve worked together every year since.”

Rabbi Daniel Brenner, who will lead this year’s High Holiday services with Antibalas cofounder Jordan McLean, reports that he will “frame the experience, tell stories about the history of the music, and let the music be a vehicle for us spiritually—to let the music evoke emotions.”

Brenner views Bowl HaShanah “not as much a service as a celebration of the holiday,” though, he adds, “that is not to say I won’t open up the door to connection with the Divine and the cosmic.”

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Original Article Published On The Jerusalem Post

Plucky Glushko can’t overcome cough, Zavatska in first-round of qualifiers • Sela also ousted

NEW YORK – The Yiddish-originating adage of “man plans, and God laughs” applies even to professional tennis players. All the best coaching, practice sessions, healthy eating and natural talents cannot guard against life’s unpredictable occurrences. On Tuesday, Israel’s Julia Glushko was in action in the first round of the US Open Qualifying Tournament, having returned to New York after a year of numerous, unexpected health and medical issues. 

The 29-year-old Glushko, currently ranked No. 248, faced 19-year-old Ukrainian power hitter Katarina Zavatska (No. 127) in the mid-day heat in Flushing Meadows. Long rallies, careful shot selection, and very few double faults and unforced errors kept the 2-hour, 25-minute slugfest close for two sets. Glushko took the first set 7-5, but Zavatska fought back to close out the second set 6-3 as her set-point shot rolled off the top of the net, landing far out of Glushko’s reach.

Following a short break, Glushko took the first game of the decisive set before quickly falling behind 4-1. Glushko held serve at 4-2 and lost the next two games, double faulting to end the match in a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 defeat. 

“It was a good match,” said Glushko’s coach Keren Shlomo. “Zavatska played really well. She doesn’t give you anything. You have to work for everything.” 

In a post-match interview, Glushko added, “I had so many heath issues, it was scary. I had just one thing after another!” 

Glushko’s rough year actually started in the first round of last year’s US Open, when she hurt her left knee and fell to the ground in severe pain during her match against Monica Niculescu. Her knee was taped and she made what appeared to be a semi-miraculous recovery. Glushko battled back to win the match before losing in the second round to the eventual tournament champion Naomi Osaka. 
When Glushko returned to Israel, she learned that she had a fracture in her left knee. Once the fracture healed, she had surgery to clean the meniscus. Following a nearly seven-month recovery and rehabilitation, Glushko entered the qualifying tournament at Indian Wells, California. She played several tournaments in China and in Europe before again being sidelined – this time with sinus inflammation.

Glushko then entered the French Open qualifying tournament, where she lost in the third round and suffered a shoulder injury. She played in the qualifying tournament of Wimbledon in July, despite lingering shoulder pain. She was then diagnosed with a blood infection, which caused her to miss most of this summer’s US tournaments. Just a week ago, Glushko developed a cough and was treated with antibiotics. 

“It has been very on and off this year,” said the Israeli. “I feel like half the tournaments I was either playing injured or sick.” 
She described missing one her favorite tournaments, the Australian Open, and she missed playing with her Israeli teammates to the Fed Cup. 

“I learned that I can’t control life. You always have some deadline to make, or a tournament or a ranking. I learned that life is just bigger than that. I tried to control life too much. It doesn’t work… I just try to be happy each day.” 

Meanwhile, Dudi Sela hoped his visit to New York would last at least a week or two. The 34-year-old Israeli, ranked No. 167 in the world and on his way back from injuries which kept him out of last year’s US Open, needed to win three matches in this week’s US Open Qualifying Tournament to secure one of 16 coveted spots in the men’s main draw.

 Instead, Sela was dismissed in just over two hours in the first round of the qualifying tournament by 27-year-old Canadian Steven Diez, ranked No. 175. Sela called for the trainer in the third set to treat his wrist, before falling 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Sela is no stranger to the US Open. Since 2003, he has been entertaining fans in Flushing Meadows, often in come-from-behind battles late in the night. He played the US Open qualifying tournaments in 2003, 2005 and 2006 without advancing to the main draw. 
From 2007-2011, and again from 2013-2017, Sela made it to the main singles draw, though never advancing past the second round. His career won/loss record at the US Open is 6-10.

Sela returned to this year’s US Open after skipping last year’s tournament due to a wrist injury. He has also dealt with back injuries in recent years. Sela mostly played Challenger tournaments in 2019; success in these lower level tournaments helped him acquire ranking points.

In June, Sela won the inaugural Little Rock Open, an ATP Challenger Tour, marking his 23rd career win and his first in two years. Sela has earned slightly under $47,000 in prize money this year, and just under $4 million in his career. In 2009, Sela reached a career high ranking of 29. First-round losers in this year’s US Open Qualifying Tournament earn $11,000.

On Tuesday, Sela generally dictated the pace early in the match and enjoyed support of vocal Israelis in the crowd, cruising to an easy 6-4 win.

Diez held serve in the first game of the second set before Sela went up 3-1, displayed masterful shot selection and placement, and he appeared on course to win close out the match. However, Diez hit a series of successful passing shots and held serve to take the second set 6-4.

Sela came out fighting in the third set, but Diez quickly took held control and broke Sela to go up 3-0. Sela appeared on course for a comeback when down 4-2, however following a series of balls hit long and wide, the Israeli appeared to lose his desire and Diez closed out the final set 6-2. 

Other Jewish players in action on Tuesday include Noah Rubin, the 23-year-old from Long Island, New York who was the Wimbledon boys’ title in 2014, and Jamie Loeb, 24, of Ossining, New York. Loeb was the 2015 NCAA champion at the University of North Carolina.

Currently ranked No. 195, Rubin notched a 6-2, 6-3 first-round victory over Gianluca Mager of Italy.
“The first win definitely helps moving forward,” said Rubin. “More than anything, I just want to have fun and enjoy myself, and that is why I am here.”

Loeb was ousted in her match by No. 29 Harriet Dart of England.

“It’s always great having a home crowd,” said Loeb following her 6-2, 7-6 loss to Dart on Tuesday. “I wish I could’ve pulled it out today, but it’s tough.”

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Original Article in Jerusalem Post

The Jewish and engaging Kaufman is perhaps its most colorful member. Her family and personal stories weave deep connections to Jewish causes while offering a window into American history.

NEW YORK – The packed crowd at the Mercury Lounge on Manhattan’s Lower East Side last week was witnessing a rare feat – the New York debut of a band that formed in 1967.

Ace of Cups, the all-female San Francisco rock band from the heady Summer of Love, who shared stages with the Grateful Dead, The Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane and opened for Jimi Hendrix at a free concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, might have been one of the only hippie bands of the era who didn’t nab a recording contract and become stars.

However, a half-century later, with it members now grandmas and hovering around the 70-year-old mark, the band with four of the original five Aces – Denise Kaufman (vocals, bass, harmonica), Mary Gannon (vocals, ukulele, bass), Mary Ellen Simpson (vocals, lead guitar), and Diane Vitalich (vocals, drums) – were rocking the crowd and enjoying the accolades.

Their debut album released late last year, and featuring contemporaries like Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna), David Freiberg (Quicksilver Messenger Service), Barry Melton (Country Joe & The Fish), Pete Sears (Jefferson Starship, Moonalice), David Grisman, Steve Kimock (Zero, RatDog), Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Taj Mahal and Buffy Sainte-Marie, has won them the full-fledged recognition that evaded them the first time around, as well as a sense of vindication and jubilation.

The Jewish and engaging Kaufman is perhaps its most colorful member. Her family and personal stories weave deep connections to Jewish causes while offering a window into American history – from the Stock Market Crash of 1929, to the early and late 60’s Bay Area scene.  

Raised in northern California, Kaufman played piano, guitar and wrote songs from an early age. At her high-school graduation in Palo Alto, Jerry Garcia, the famed lead singer and guitarist of the Grateful Dead, played at the after party. She traveled on Ken Kesey’s bus as part of the Merry Pranksters (when LSD was available in vats of Kool-Aid), and was chronicled as Mary Microgram in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Kaufman attended Lowell All-City School in San Francisco for the first two years of high school, joining her first picket line in San Francisco at age 14. She then transferred to the Castilleja School in Palo Alto, “the same school Grace Slick had previously attended.”

The legends of the up-and-coming 60’s music scene were very accessible. When Kaufman graduated high school in 1964, she arranged to rent Bimbo’s 365 Club in North Beach, San Francisco. “I had to find a band, and hired my favorite local band, The Zodiacs, which included Pigpen [Ron McKernan] and Jerry [Garcia]!”

After taking summer school classes at Stanford, Kaufman started her studies at UC Berkley, intending to study political science and theater. 

“It was always my vision. Kennedy had been shot. I was in Youth for Kennedy. I studied Latin American studies and Shakespeare.”

Berkeley was emerging as a center of activism and protests. 

“Outside of Sprout Hall, every political perspective was represented by the card tables full of brochures and people on soapboxes. There was a sense of ‘We can do this! We can change the world. We have to!’ I was in heaven there!”  

Kaufman vividly recalls that, within a few weeks of arriving at Berkeley, the campus police removed all the tables and told the organizations that they could no longer operate in any way on the campus. 

“This started the Free Speech Movement,” she continued. “From the first day, I was one of the students ready to fight this battle. Within two months, 700 of us got arrested and our free speech rights were eventually upheld.”

As the counterculture unfolded with its twin flags of music and drugs, Kaufman indulged in both. She describes her involvement with LSD as having “a deeply life-altering effect – there were no words to talk about it.” Even though it wasn’t yet illegal, she recalled that she met resistance at home. “My parents were terrified,” she said, adding that she was one of the youngest involved in Kesey’s escapades, along with the Dead’s Weir and Mountain Girl, Kesey’s girlfriend who would go on to become Jerry Garcia’s wife.

Kaufman always felt she was embodying the Jewish values and that they were always a part of the Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco 1960’s scene. “It was all so intertwined.”  

She notes the involvement of so many of her peers in various civil rights, social justice and spirituality causes and movements.

After meeting the other women in Haight-Ashbury in early 1967, Kaufman and Ace of Cups became integral components of the live music scene in the Bay Area. She was romantically linked to both Paul Simon and to Rolling Stone-founder Jann Wenner.

However, at the same time as compatriots like Grace Slick and Janis Joplin were catching national attention fronting male-dominated bands and receiving record contracts, Ace of Cups were facing challenges. 

“The record label guys that were coming up from LA didn’t know what to do with us. I don’t think we fit in with what they wanted,” said Kaufman. 

They stuck it out without a recording contract for another few years, but by 1972, the band was finished and music made way for motherhood, family responsibilities, “day jobs,” and for Kaufman, life in such exotic places as Kauai, Hawaii.

But nearly 35 years after performing with Jimi Hendrix, the band had an important break – in 2003, it released “It’s Bad for You But Buy It!,” a well-received CD of 1960s “rehearsals, demos, TV soundstage recordings, and in-concert tapes.” 

In 2008, a DVD of their performances from the 1968 television program West Pole was released. 

An even bigger break came on May 14, 2011 when the band reformed and performed at Wavy Gravy’s 75th birthday party and a SEVA Foundation benefit. George Baer Wallace, founder of High Moon Records – in attendance at the Mercury Lounge show – was moved by their performance and offered them a recording contract.

Once again in the limelight, their schedule has been demanding and fun-filled. Before their Mercury Lounge show, the band members appeared onstage with Sirius FM radio host Gary Lambert, who playfully suggested they receive a Grammy Award for best new artist.

The evening kicked off with a video showing the band’s storied history, and continued with an animated Q and A discussion with music editors and writers from Rolling Stone, Relix and other publications. The band played a full electric set and Patti Smith Band guitarist and rock historian Lenny Kaye joined the band for “The Well.”

The next day, they went to Philadelphia for NPR’s World Cafe, and were out late Wednesday attending a Wailers concert at Brooklyn Bowl. Later in the week, they participated in a Friday Night Jam with Rabbi Daniel Brenner and Relix’s Mike Greenhaus at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall.  

The band proudly reports that they have so much additional material that they’ll release their follow up album next year, featuring contributions from Jackson Browne, Wavy Gravy and others. 

The Grateful Dead may have written the line, but it most accurately applies to Ace of Cups – “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”


Denise Kaufman’s parents were “deeply involved” in Jewish causes. “People always came to our home for dinner – from Brandeis, Hadassah, Federation – causes related to Israel.”

She has photos of her parents with both Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan from fund-raising trips they took to America, and she traveled to Israel – once with her parents, and once with a boyfriend in 1980. Her parents even owned an apartment in Netanya.

“They always gave it to their friends to stay in order to have a more local experience of Israel,” she says.

Kaufman mostly raised her now-adult daughter, Tora, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where she cofounded a school (The Island School), arranged Seders (“We had 120 for a seder in 1983!”), served on the board of the Jewish Federation of Hawaii, and hosted Entebbe mission physician Ilan Kutz.

Kaufman speaks fondly of the Friedmans, Israeli friends she met on Kauai in 1980. “Their daughter and her family now have an organic a farm next to ours.”

In 1980, Kaufman and her boyfriend spent a few months in Israel, which she recalls affectionately. They played Hawaiian music (on the dulcimer and guitar), and appeared on the Israeli TV program, Kitoret, with Yaron London. They played at Jerusalem’s Tzavta Theater, surfed in Yamit (“We bought a little car”), surfed and camped in Dahab, in the Sinai.

“One of the most amazing musical experiences of my life happened under the stars in Dahab. We started playing music in the desert night – there were no lights and we couldn’t see anyone, but people in the dunes around us began to join us in song. We sang with an unknown choir almost till dawn.”

Kaufman continues to be actively involved in Jewish life. She speaks fondly of Rabbi Mordecai Finley, her rabbi at Ohr HaTorah in Los Angeles, where she currently spends most of her time. She plays bass there every Shabbat and holiday when she is in town. Kaufman notes that this was also Leonard Cohen’s shul.

In Los Angeles, when she’s not rocking with the Ace of Cups, Kaufman is a private yoga teacher and has worked with Madonna, Quincy Jones, Jane Fonda, and former basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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