Nefesh Mountain Comes to Sanibel

for Bat Yam Temple of the Islands Concert

(article published in local media)

A major interfaith community event is back by popular demand! On Sunday March 7 at 4p.m. Bat Yam Temple of the Islands invites you to a once-in-a-lifetime, live-streamed for virtual viewing musical event. The stars of the show are the husband-and-wife team, Doni Zasloff and Eric Lindberg, who formed their bluegrass band, Nefesh Mountain Bluegrass Band in 2014; Bat Yam Temple of the Island’s Cantor, Murray Simon and Dr. John Danner of Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ and Abbey Allison, pianist.

Bat Yam Temple of the Island’s annual fundraiser concert, has, in previous years, enjoyed sold-out performances. This year, because of the pandemic, the range of invitees extends to the world. Already we have had interest shown from as far afield as South Africa and Israel.  The virtual hall will be able to accommodate up to 500 virtual “seats.” Attendance for this year’s concert is on a first-come-first-served registration basis. The concert is free but sponsorships and donations are encouraged and welcomed. Registration for the concert, sponsorships and donations can be made online at www.batyam.org. They also can be mailed to Bat Yam Temple of the Islands, P.O. Box 84, Sanibel, Florida 33957.

Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940’s in the Appalachian region of the United States. It is traditionally played on acoustic stringed instruments and has its roots in the traditional English, Irish and Scottish ballads as well as African-American blues and jazz. Earl Scruggs name is synonymous with Bluegrass music; he played a five-string banjo and was known for his energetic and innovative three finger picking style.

The music is Methodist and Baptist and Jewish! The dancing is a jig, a reel, a hora! “The fusion of Americana, bluegrass, Appalachian music with Jewish tradition feels like the most authentic way to express our spirituality and our musicality,” says Zasloff. Their Jewish infusion into a uniquely Americana music is reflected in the band’s name. The Hebrew word for soul is nefesh, with the English word mountain, which is common in the names of many bluegrass bands.

Popular Jewish songs and prayers like “Hinei Ma Tov,” “Esa Einai” and “Modeh Ani” reimagined with stringed instruments form the backbone of their repertoire. Both Lindberg and Zasloff also compose entirely new works that fit the same spiritual space. They often sing in Hebrew.

The secular music world has taken notice. Rolling Stone listed their single, “Narrow Bridge” – based on the teaching of the 18th century Chasidic leader Reb Nachman of Breslov – among the magazines Ten Best Country and Americana songs of the week. BBC World News, Billboard and Bluegrass Today among others have featured them.

The band, made up of Zasloff and Lindberg, Alan Grubner on violin and Tim Kiah on bass and vocals has been active since 2014 and has toured the USA, Canada, Israel, England and Australia. They perform at concert halls, festivals, workshops, schools, camps and synagogues.

Sunday March 7 promises to be a special afternoon. Rabbi Stephen Fuchs and members of the congregation are looking forward to welcoming you. Mark your calendars and save the date. Come for a wonderful afternoon of ole-time fiddlin’.