Klezmer and Yiddish concert by Josh Dolgin and friends on October 15 will be lively launch for Temple Israel’s 50th Anniversary Year
By Louise Rachlis
For Temple Israel
Even as a pre-schooler of four or five, Josh Dolgin noticed when the music at services was off tune at Temple Israel.
The tiny curly-haired little boy went on to make music his life, and he will be returning to Temple Israel October 15th for a concert which will be the kick-off celebration of Temple’s 50th Anniversary Year.
Turning 40 in December, Dolgin is a popular musician who has been a guest on Q on CBC radio three times. Aka “So-called,” he’s a two-time Juno award nominee and has appeared with Yitzhak Perlman, Frank London, Theodor Bikel and others. He is known for his eclectic mix of blending Klezmer, hip hop and other genres.
“My earliest musical memories in my life are from religious services,” said Dolgin, who lives in Montreal. “The song you sing carrying the torah around, and joining in with the lay cantor, the late Michael Rosberg, and other choirs and singers here and there…Rabbi Tam was only there for a little while, but he knew I played the piano, and one day he lent me his accordion to try. That’s where my use of the accordion comes from.”
He remembers learning his bar mitzvah portion and “doing a good job.” “It’s a brilliant cultural move to get children up before a crowd, writing a speech and learning to sing. It’s a cool cultural move for the Jewish people.”
He was delighted when he discovered old recordings on LPs and 78s of Yiddish music. “I thought, ‘why didn’t we hear that in our Temple, the way the great cantors used to sing.’ That was one of my realizations about my own culture, the softening of East European music. I liked the real thing.”
Twenty years ago he began mixing the music of the old records with hip hop, and went on to experiment with all kinds and styles of music.
However, he frequently returns to his Jewish roots to look for melodic inspiration and “to steal from those old songs.” “Nobody really cares about it, so I feel a duty to preserve it.”
He has been on radio Q to play with his band, to promote a new album, and after he wrote and produced the new theme for the “As it Happens” show on CBC radio. “Carol Off and Geoff Douglas came and jammed with us with cowbells when we played the live version. The As it Happens theme is on the air three times a day.”
For the Temple concert, he is putting together “a special program.” “It’s way more traditional; it’s basically me with a string quartet.” He has been writing and collecting old arrangements from the ‘20s and ‘30s and also getting his friends to write new arrangements of old songs. “I’ve always wanted to do that, Yiddish songs for the most part. It’s a beautiful occasion to do this.”
Josh Dolgin’s performance will be a special evening for current and past Temple Israel members and friends, and any in the wider Ottawa community who appreciate Jewish music and Yiddish culture.
The co-chairs of the Temple’s 50th Anniversary Steering Group, Pat Dunphy and Margot Montgomery, are thrilled that Dolgin will be returning to Temple and Ottawa, where his parents are known to many in the community and are active Temple members.
The event takes place at Temple Israel, 1301 Prince of Wales Drive. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with a cash bar. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Guests will have the opportunity to meet the artists and share a nosh at the complimentary dessert reception after the show.
Early Bird tickets at $25 are available until October 5. Regular tickets at $30 are then available until Friday October 14 at noon. Tickets will also be available at the door for $30, cash only, subject to availability. There is no reserved seating. Temple Israel is fully accessible.
For information, call 613-224-1802.
Tickets are available through Canadahelps.org/en/charities at