JCRS Roots gala on Feb. 1 showcases four “success stories”

Caroline Samuels

Four “success stories” of the New Orleans-based Jewish Children’s Regional Service will be featured at the Jewish Roots of Rhythm and Blues gala — as the performers.

One of the largest Jewish events in New Orleans each year, the gala attracts attendees from throughout the region, as the organization serves seven states and holds an annual board meeting the morning after the gala. This year’s event will be on Feb. 1 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The event will feature music from The Great American Songbook, performed four JCRS educational scholarship recipients who are currently pursuing advanced degrees in musical performance.

Basil Alter of Memphis attends the Manhattan School of Music, with JCRS college aid. A native of Clinton, S.C., he started violin lessons with his mother, and at age 16 was concertmaster of all three symphonic and opera orchestras at the Rudi E. Schidt School of Music. He has done solo recitals across the U.S., Europe and Asia, including a concert where he performed his own compositions accompanied by members of the Memphis Symphony.

Joshua Dolney is a trumpet player from Deer Park, Tex., who has earned degrees in music from Texas Tech and Oklahoma City University, and is pursuing a doctorate in the musical arts at the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana. He has performed in numerous competitions as a soloist and in ensembles, and plans to be a college trumpet professor and orchestral player.

Joshua Sadinsky of Fayetteville, Ark., started piano lessons at age 7. With JCRS assistance, he attended Cornell University, where he became interested in field recorded sound, and recently recorded an album of locomotive sounds in Berlin. He has also done field recordings in Olympic National Park and national forests in upstate New York. He is now a master’s piano student at the California Institute of the Arts.

Caroline Samuels of Baton Rouge received assistance to attend the Henry S. Jacobs Camp for many summers, and college aid from JCRS. At Baton Rouge Magnet High School, Samuels was the driving force in the formation of the Jewish Cultural Association to welcome and teach peers from all backgrounds about Jewish traditions and culture, and was president of Baton Rouge’s NFTY chapter during her senior year. While in college, she co-directed the performing arts program for Camp Dream Street at Jacobs Camp.

Samuels graduated with a music degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., and is working on a master’s in classical double bass performance at Boston University. She has performed at the Lincoln Center and Kennedy Center, and is a member of “Copper Hill,” a folk band that recently toured the northeast and released its first album, “Once Around the Sun.”

She has performed in Austria and throughout Puerto Rico, and with opera star Renee Fleming at the Lincoln Center in New York City. She has spent summers studying and performing music at the Chautauqua Institution Music School Festival Orchestra, and most recently with the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Col.

They will also be accompanied by past JCRS president Bruce Miller on drums.

The 2020 Jewish Roots gala will honor the Beerman family, whose members proudly claim a near 100-year history with the original 19th century Jewish Children’s Home, which transformed into JCRS when the home closed. Six Beerman siblings were Home residents in the 1920s, while more recently, family members have served in leadership positions within JCRS, including Marc Beerman as president from 2015 to 2017.

The evening will also include a cocktail reception followed by a seated dinner. A silent auction focused on boutique shopping, restaurants and once-in-a-lifetime vacations will round out the evening.

JCRS provides need-based college scholarships, grants for Jewish summer camp experiences, special needs assistance and other outreach programs in a seven-state region. This year, JCRS will serve or fund over 1,800 Jewish children from over 200 communities.

As part of this year’s gala, a 40-inch 18-karat white gold quartz necklace, valued at $3,250, from Lee Michaels Jewelers will be raffled. Tickets are $20, or six for $100, and one need not be present to win.

Gala tickets are available here or by calling the office at (800) 729-5277, and are $250, or $125 for those age 35 and younger. The event is open to the public.