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Photo by Keith Levit

Lorne Weiss (R) receiving his award from Hart Shapiro (L)
Photo by Keith Levit

Photo by Keith Levit

Photo by Keith Levit



by Rhonda J. Prepes, P. Eng., June 21, 2011

The Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble  never disappoints and their recent concert on June 14, 2011  at the Manitoba Theatre Centre exemplified this. The event honoured Lorne Weiss, Chai’s president from 1998 to 2004

During the evening  tributes were also  paid  to Nenad Lhotka z”l, past artistic director; Erna Kimmel z”l, one of Chai’s original founding mothers; and David Pesochin z”l, former costume designer. All three individuals committed countless hours to Chai and left their permanent fingerprints on the group.

The vibrant concert featured well known classics such like Heyaw, Hem Rakdu Yecheifim, and Alle Breder from Chai’s recent CD Wanderings and also new works by international and Winnipeg talent. The thirteen new songs and compositions were a mix of classic and contemporary and a blend of Israeli, Greek, Turkish, Oriental, Balkanize, Klezmer, Moroccan, Yemen, and Brazilian musical influences.

Lori Binder, past President of Chai, spoke of Lorne Weiss’s accomplishments and his impact not only on the organization and our community but, on hundreds of young individuals.

“He has volunteered over a decade with Chai, 10 years with Shaarey Zedek synagogue and held many roles in the real estate industry. He found Chai a studio, helped build the administrative support structure and artistic teams. He supported local concerts like the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Rusalka, Finjan, performances at the Pan Am games, and other community performances.”

“Under Lorne’s leadership Chai travelled everywhere – Kenora ON, Ottawa ON, Drummondville QC, Mexico City, and Israel.” 

 She added that “Lorne led with strength” and that Chai is where it is today because of  “a decade of love, commitment, and passion” that Weiss poured into the Ensemble.

Hart Shapiro, this year’s campaign’s chair and Weiss’s long time friend presented him with an award from Chai, the  plaque of which reads: “Thank you for ever igniting our ambition and teaching us that Chai is the whole world - right here at home.”

In accepting the award, Lorne Weiss recognized his daughter Alison for her relentless efforts in getting him involved in Chai; his wife for her support, Hart Shapiro – a true friend; Reeva Nepon for her commitment to Chai; and Tracy Kasner Greaves for her vision and exciting ideas. 

As Weiss said: “ I have often been asked why I stayed on with Chai after my daughter left. And the answer simply is Tracy Kasner Greaves and this cast of dedicated and passionate young men and women who make up the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble.”

“With passion and commitment, there are few obstacles that you cannot overcome. Two of these passionate and dedicated young people that I first met 18 years ago, Tracy Kasner Greaves and Arthur Liffmann are celebrating 20 years with Chai tonight.”

Liffmann is retiring after this concert and Kasner Greaves will lead Chai into their 50th year and beyond.

The concert was truly a colorful celebration of dance and music from all over the world-one which could be enjoyed by people of all ages.

My personal favourites were the dynamic, interesting and colorful: two new pieces, Hinach Yaffa (You are Beautiful) and Anachnu Nihiyeh Harishonim (We Will Be the First)

 As Tracy Kasner Greaves, the Artistic Director says, “Chai has moved beyond simply “the group with passion and energy”. Chai “electrifies the stage” with some of the most magnificent creations by international and Winnipeg talent.”


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