Over three nights next week, thousands of women and girls in the Five Towns and Far Rockaway communities will participate in Harmony XIII, song and dance performances by the kiruv organization JEP (Jewish Educational Program of Long Island) and its Camp Nageela.
For Evy Guttman, director, chief choreographer and super-energetic producer of the all-girls’ pieces, Harmony — to be staged Feb. 15, 16 and 22 at Lawrence High School — is a labor of love, an orchestration of hundreds of young girls from different schools to create a beautifully synchronized performance.
“Being able to have a show like Harmony is an incredible thing in our community,” said Guttman, who teaches at the Torah Academy for Girls high school in Far Rockaway. “It gives the girls the opportunity to shine, make new friends from other schools and grades, and most importantly empowers them to use their talents for a cause as wonderful as JEP/Nageela.”
She said that even with over 400 girls performing with Harmony this year, “we were able to accommodate every girl that wanted to participate.”
“They bring the fresh talent, organization and verve to the production,” she said, “and I am also grateful to the ‘Harmony Alumni’ who are back from seminary and make time in their busy lives to help as well. We even have many of our choreographers who were performers as kids who have the chance to give back by working on Harmony now as young adults. I like how it comes full circle for them.”
Adult performers from the Five Towns and Far Rockaway will also participate, shining once again with the Women’s Choir directed by Karen Daitchman and Kayli Joseph.
Three dances are being performed by women this year, two directed by Rivky Weissman and one by Yaffi Kaplan.
Harmony is the brainchild of Batya Travis and her company, Kol Rayus Productions.
“Being the founder of Harmony 28 years ago has brought me tremendous joy and nachas. Watching women from across the community and beyond using their artistic abilities to bring “Harmony” and form lasting friendships is something I could have only dreamed of. Without the tireless efforts of Karen Daitchman, Kayli Joseph, Ricky Molinsky, Shelley Winkler and Evy Guttman, the celebration of talented women young and old, Harmony would not have grown and perhaps had such an impact as it has today. May Hashem continue to bless our efforts and may we see the coming of Moshiach in our days.”
Shayna Wasser, who has been performing in Harmony for the past few years and is now a choir/voice head, said the experience gives the girls a chance to shine with their individual talents.
“This year is even more meaningful to me as the beneficiary is JEP, an organization that my family has been involved in for many years.” Her father is Israel Wasser, a board member for JEP/Nageela. The Lawrence-based organization has been presenting the core values of Yiddishkeit to children from different walks of life in a fun and inspirational way for over 30 years. Led by Rabbi Dovid Shenker, the beauty of a Jewish lifestyle is brought to kids who otherwise may not have had a Shabbos experience or Torah-observant role models like the many volunteers who come from the Five Towns area to work at Camp Nageela sleepaway camp and year-round programs such as Shabbatons and seasonal retreats.
To purchase Harmony tickets (starting at $25), attain a sponsorship, or give a shoutout in the event’s Playbill to one or more of the performers, visit JEPLI.org/harmony. The program is on motzei Shabbos Feb. 15 at 8 pm, Sunday Feb. 16 at 7 pm, and on motzei Shabbos Feb. 22 at 8 pm.