Oh, What a Circus!


By A.J. Llewellyn

Last night, the BCC, the first-ever GLBTQ synagogue established in Los Angeles celebrated 40 years of service to its community.

As is typical with the BCC, the celebration included much music and laughter but there was also a sad reminder, as Rabbi Lisa Edwards told us that the previous day, December 1 was World AIDS Day. Not one person at the concert has been unaffected by the AIDS epidemic. We have all loved and lost somebody and yes, as she pointed out, we all wished our loved ones were there to sit beside us. She pulled a chair up on the stage and the irony was not lost on me that unlike the hateful, embarrassing rantings of a certain Academy-Award winning actor who used this ruse recently to abuse an Invisible Obama, the message here was one of love. Compassion. INCLUSION.

There were some bittersweet moments in the show but most of it was fun and always inspirational. It starred of course, the divine and dynamic BCC Cantor, Juval Porat who recently recorded a CD called Insight.

He performed many songs, explaining their origin and their meaning as  he introduced a dazzling array of talent helping him perform some truly unforgettable numbers. I was particularly impressed by his duets with rising cantorial  superstar Tamara Wolfson.

I also loved the impassioned “show tune, because every concert needs show tunes” rendition Cantor Yonah Kliger gave of the brilliant, vocally difficult “Oh What a Circus” from the musical, “Evita.” He pointed out that Mandy Patinkin, Ricky Martin and Antonio Banderas have all portrayed the late revolutionary Che Guevara in the musical, but having seen two of these versions, I believe his performance rivals any of theirs. As the Cantor asked us to chant “Evita!” before he sang, I really became transported. I felt I’d gone back in time to Buenos Aires and this was a gift of his performance. I was part of the crowd at the steps of the mansion, clamoring for the queen…

Oh, yes, it was a circus.  But of the delicious, never-to-be-forgotten kind, not the “whip-the-ponies” kind of circus, though I am sure a bit of whip-wielding was part of the rehearsal process to prodice such effortless grace and harmony.

So many songs, so many gorgeous voices. I was thrilled to be introduced to so much talent, including visiting Cantor, David Berger, whose spirited version of “Psalm 150” was a treat. I also loved listening to the rich vocal work of Cantor Jennifer Bern-Vogel and the charming harmonies shared by Cantor Juval Porat and Jaclyn Fromer.

Then there was the choir. Oh, the choir! This was ensemble work at its best. The musicians who were all amazing featured the fabulous TJ Troy on drums and percussion. I’ve seen him perform in accoustic services at BCC so it was fun to see him open up and kill those drums.

But perhaps the defining moment came when Juval Porat performed the last song of the evening on his own. “Elu D’Vorim”, a song he heard on a recent trip to Israel, inspired him, he told us. Somewhere up there in the sky as he returned to LA, not here, not there, crossing the invisible dateline, he came to some realizations and down here on earth, we have too.

Juval Porat is a gift to us all. A gift I hope he continues to give us for a long, long, long, time.

I am reminded of another song from “Evita”, “High Flying, Adored”. Yes, he is.

Last night, Cantor Juval Porat’s circus came into town.

A big, beautiful circus filled with light and love.

And so much more.

Aloha oe,


4 Responses to “Oh, What a Circus!”

  1. Beautiful AJ.. I sounds like a truly wondrous experience


  2. Thank you Silver, it really was!!! I hope they put some of the songs on Youtube. I have to apologize to Juval and Tamara for the lousy picture quality. I am NOT a photographer lol!

  3. I’m so happy you enjoyed the concert AJ! Here’s a link to preview and purchase songs from my album: http://www.cdbaby.com/m/cd/cantorjuvalporat2
    Thank you for this sweet article!

  4. Thank you for the links Juval! On my way there now!

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