Yiddish music distills the essence of life: joys and struggles, comical and tragic, personal and communal, mundane and holy. Join us for a modern take on this soul-stirring music with Daniella Rabbani, Cantor Michael Smolash (Temple Israel, West Bloomfield, MI), and Balkanika—an extraordinary ensemble led by BJ’s own music director, Dan Nadel. Don’t miss this uplifting evening filled with the spirit of resilience and joy!

About the musicians:

Cantor Michael Smolash has had the honor of serving Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, MI, since 2004, where he holds the Stephen Gottlieb z”l Cantorial Chair. He has coproduced four albums of Temple Israel’s music, which were featured on the URJ’s Ruach CD, JKids Radio, and the URJ Biennial Convention album, where Michael led Friday night services. A pioneer of the use of YouTube videos for synagogue outreach, Cantor Smolash’s produced videos have garnered two million views and counting. He is also a student of Australia’s Rabbi Dr. Laibl Wolf, one of the foremost Kabbalah teachers today, and has taught Jewish mysticism at Henry Ford Hospital’s Provider Health Summit, Legacy Heritage’s OnBoard program, the Interfaith Leadership Council, and more. Raised in a Yiddish-speaking family, and a fifteen-year veteran of professional music theater, Cantor Smolash is always thrilled to combine these two loves in concert.

Daniella Rabbani is an American actress, singer, and voiceover artist who has carried the great tradition of Yiddish storytelling through music for almost two decades. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette called Daniella, “the living embodiment of this fun, often sensuous music”. Music that has taken her across the country to venues like Jazz at Lincoln Center, Town Hall, and Summerstage, all in NYC, and The State Theater in Warsaw, Poland, with The National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene. Off-Broadway with The Folksbiene, Daniella left audiences “twirling in the streets” (NYTimes) in the Drama Desk-nominated The Golden Land and many other productions. Her TV and Film work includes WB’s Oceans 8, CBS’ God Friended Me, FX’s The Americans, and more. She is the host of the podcast Mom Curious and can be found on Instagram (@daniellarabbani).

Dan Nadel is an Israeli-born guitarist and composer whose personal style combines flamenco, jazz, and Middle Eastern influences. His debut album, Brooklyn Prayer, was released in 2005 to critical acclaim and was followed by recordings and performances as a bandleader, a solo performing artist, and an in-demand collaborator.

A busy musician on New York’s scene, Nadel has also worked with many world-renowned artists, including jazz musicians Chico Freeman, Dave Liebman and Anat Fort, Israeli-French pop star Yael Naim, jazz vocalist Gabrielle Stravelli, opera soloists Chen Reiss and Maya Lahyani, and genre-crossing musicians from around the world. Dan is BJ’s own music director and director of the 92NY’s new program Bridges in Sound.

Nadel attended the jazz program at the prestigious “Thelma Yellin” High School of the Arts in Tel Aviv, before completing his three-year army duty as the guitarist for the IDF’s Air Force Band. He is a graduate of the BFA jazz program at The New School in NYC and has studied with jazz masters Billy Harper, Hal Galper, and Cecil McBee in NY, and flamenco guitarist Antonio Moya in Seville, Spain.

Clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski is a musical force of passion and dynamic virtuosity. Already of international distinction, Lumanovki has launched a major career as a soloist, and chamber musician in both classical and cross-over repertoire. His synergistic blend of natural talent and training combines the spirit of folk music with the discipline of classical music.

Lumanovski’s performances throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Brazil, Korea, and China have received critical acclaim. Lumanovski has mesmerized audiences across the globe. He is proud to have been the soloist of his New York début of the Carter Clarinet Concerto with musicians from the New Juilliard Ensemble and the Lucerne Festival Academy with Maestro Boulez.

Shoko Nagai is a versatile musical artist who improvises and performs with world-renowned musicians on piano and accordion and composes original scores for films and live performances. Since moving to the U.S. from Japan and studying classical and jazz music at Berklee, she has adapted her mastery of the keyboard to prepared piano, accordion, Moog synthesizer, and other instruments. Whether she is performing Klezmer,

Balkan or experimental music, Nagai is a charismatic presence onstage, who hypnotizes audiences with her intense focus and virtuoso sound. A veteran of the New York downtown music scene, she performs with John Zorn, Erik Friedlander, Marc Ribot, Frank London, Dan Nadal, Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto), Satoshi Takeishi, Elliot Sharp, Jeremiah Lockwood and many eclectic performers.

Satoshi Takeishi, drummer, percussionist, and arranger, is a native of Mito, Japan. While at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, he developed an interest in the music of South America and went to live in Colombia following the invitation of a friend. He spent four years there and forged many musical and personal relationships. One of the projects he worked on while in Colombia was “Macumbia” with composer/arranger Francisco Zumaque in which traditional, jazz, and classical music were combined. With this group, he performed with the Bogota Symphony orchestra to do a series of concerts honoring the music of the most popular composer in Colombia, Lucho Bermudes. In 1986 he returned to the U.S. in Miami, where he began work as an arranger. In 1987 he produced “Morning Ride” for jazz flutist Nestor Torres on Polygram Records. His interest expanded to the rhythms and melodies of the Middle East, where he studied and performed with Armenian-American oud master Joe Zeytoonian. Since moving to New York in 1991 he has performed and recorded with many musicians such as Ray Barretto, Carlos “Patato” Valdes, Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson, Eddie Gomez, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Anthony Braxton, Mark Murphy, Herbie Mann, Paul Winter Consort, Rabih Abu Khalil, Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band, Erik Friedlander and Pablo Ziegler to name a few. He continues to explore multicultural, electronic, and improvisational music with local musicians and composers in New York.