Natchez Festival of Music hosts cabaret fundraiser to benefit Temple B’nai Israel

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, January 16, 2019


NATCHEZ — Where a need exists, fill it with music. That seems to be the motto of the Natchez Festival of Music in its newfound partnership with the Institute of Southern Jewish Life to restore the historic Temple B’nai Israel.

Starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, the temple dome will echo with more than just the traditional Jewish music heard in regular worship services, but rather a blend of opera and Broadway classics performed by music students from the University of Mobile and University of Southern Mississippi.

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Tickets to Thursday’s concert, titled “Cabaret Under the Dome,” are $15 each, and all proceeds will be added to the temple’s restoration fund, said Nora Katz, director of Heritage and Interpretation at Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

Katz said Temple B’nai was built in 1905 at the height of the Jewish population in Natchez, and much of its interior and exterior structure has been untouched for more than a century.

“Though the Jewish population has since shrunken in size, people can still see a living and vibrant Jewish culture at Temple B’nai Israel,” Katz said.

Much work needs to be done to update the temple’s plumbing and electricity as well as make it wheelchair compliant to fit contemporary standards, Katz said.

Moreover, the institute, Katz said, hopes to turn Temple B’nai into a suitable host for the community productions and events as well as a museum tribute to early Jewish culture and heritage. However, the institute, Katz said, is a long way from its $3 million goal to complete the restoration.

“This concert is a really exciting way to showcase the temple as a venue for music and hub of the Natchez community,” Katz said. “I hope people will come be a part of this amazing and fun concert at such a unique and historic venue, because that’s what this is really all about.”

Diana Glaze, Natchez Festival of Music chair, said she attended the Temple B’nai’s performance of Mark Twain’s “The Diaries of Adam and Eve” last year, and later decided that during the music festival’s educational outreach program, which began last week, was a good time to help out the temple between performances at Adams County and surrounding schools.

“While we had our singers here doing educational outreach, we thought it would be a good idea to have a community outreach as well,” Glaze said.

Thursday’s production tips its hat toward Jewish culture, Glaze said, as the performers play “Fiddler on the Roof” alongside other musical pieces by Jewish composers.

Attendees also can expect to hear musical selections from “Phantom of the Opera,” “Into the Woods” and “The Wizard of Oz,” among arias from Puccini, Mozart, Haydn, Verdi and Rossini.

“I believe those who attend this program will be pleasantly entertained,” Glaze said.

Glaze said tickets could be purchased at the door or online at