Benefit concert in Salem to aid refugees resettling from Ukraine

It is hard these days to not be moved by the plight of so many refugees from terrible events that happen worldwide on a daily basis. The war in Ukraine is especially disturbing with the number of refugees who need help.

A concerned outsider may struggle to know how they can help in a targeted way.

Temple Beth Shalom in Salem has found a way that Salemites can directly help refugees settle safely in the Salem community and hear authentic Ukrainian klezmer music at the same time through a benefit concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 4. The temple is at 1274 Cunningham Lane S. Tickets are $18 and donations are invited.

The benefit concert features celebrated nationally known Latvian singer Sasha Lurje, violinist, composer and arranger Craig Judelman and Michael Alpert, Yiddish culture bearer, who will play traditional klezmer style music, which has a rich and long tradition in the Ukrainian region.

All proceeds go to supporting Salem for Refugees, a group that was established in 2016 to assist with resettling refugees in the Salem community and ensuring that they have a successful transition into the community. The group helps refugees find housing, clothing, social services, schools, and jobs. 

Temple Beth Shalom has had a “long connection with the Salem for Refugees group and we have worked with them a lot over the years”, said Amber Giddings, operations manager for Temple Beth Shalom. “We feel that this concert will bring a special connection between us and the Ukrainian families we have helped to support.” 

This music will sound especially sweet to the ears of the Hnatovska family. The family escaped the Ukraine in March 2022 and moved to Salem. Since then, the Temple Beth Shalom and Salem for Refugees have helped the family get established.

 “The Hnatovskas have found great support from the temple community and made real friends, and in October 2022, Kseniia Hnatovska was hired as the Ukrainian Navigator for Salem for Refugees,” Giddings said.

Klemzer music is a form of traditional Jewish instrumental music. It includes dance tunes, ritual melodies, and improvisations.  Such music is usually played at weddings and other social functions.

For more information, contact Giddings at 503- 362-5004.

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Laura Tesler has lived in Salem, Oregon for 20 years and is originally from Flint, MI. Laura has been an underwater photographer for 15 years, and is an avid scuba diver. Topside, she has been taking photographs since age 12, and currently works on assignment for the Salem Reporter, and full time purchasing land for fish and wildlife habitat in the Willamette Valley. Laura attended Oregon State University, and has traveled extensively all over the world and the United States.