Free Synagogue of Flushing presents Judas Maccabaeus

Free Synagogue Cantor with Choir

As its Chanukkah gift to the community, the Free Synagogue of Flushing will present a special performance of Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus on Friday, December 19, 8:15 PM.

The Bible-based musical masterwork, which tells the story of Chanukkah, is FREE and open to the public.

It will feature celebrated Cantor Steven Pearlston and the distinguished Free Synagogue choir.
Robert Barrows will play the synagogue s historic pipe organ, which dates back to
1927, the only pipe organ at a synagogue in Queens. Jason Covey and Charles Grauman will be featured on trumpet. The program will be narrated by Rabbi Michael Weisser in the synagogue s magnificent sanctuary.

Handel s oratorio tells the story of Judas Maccabaeus, better known as Judah
Maccabee, a fearless leader acclaimed as one of the greatest warriors in
Jewish history. He led the Israelites in a string of victories during the
Judean revolt against the Greco-Syrian empire. This is the fifth year Free
Synagogue is presenting the concert.

Free Synagogue is located at
41-60 Kissena Boulevard (between Sanford and
Main Street), Flushing, NY
Some free on-site parking available. Please call
718-961-0030 or visit for more information.
Pictured above (left to right) are the synagogue’s choir and
cantor: Robert Mobsy, Karen Grahn, Cantor Steven Pearlston, Jann Degnan,
Carson Baker. (photo credit: Ellen Lengel)

While Handel’s Messiah is a tradition around the Christmas holiday, it is
not easy to find a performance of the composer’s version of the story of
Chanukkah. Until five years ago, there was little hope of catching a
performance of Judas Maccabaeus during Chanukkah, Cantor Pearlston notes.
Most synagogues do not have the resources to revive this great work. Five
years ago, we changed that. We are hoping the practice of performing Handel
s version of the story of Chanukkah catches on all over the country. In the
meantime, the public is invited to hear the concert free of charge at Free
Synagogue of Flushing. It is now part of our holiday tradition.

Free Synagogue is located at 41-60 Kissena Boulevard (between Sanford and
Main Street), Flushing. Some free on-site parking available. Please call
718-961-0030 or visit for more information.

About Cantor Steven Pearlston
Steven Pearlston has been cantor of Free Synagogue of Flushing since 1973. In
addition, he has spent eight summers affiliated with Opera Fort Collins as,
variously, principal tenor, chorus master, or conductor. His other operatic
venues include The Aspen Music Festival, Central City Opera, Opera Omaha, The
Washington Civic Opera, and the Khan Theater in Jerusalem. He has been a solo
performer at Alice Tully Hall in the works of J.S. Bach, and with the New York
Philharmonic Orchestra, where he also served for ten seasons as chorister. He
has appeared as vocalist with the American Ballet Theater, the Alvin Ailey
Dance Company, and the Joffrey Ballet. To his credit are several world premiere
performances of compositions on Jewish themes at Merkin Concert Hall in New
York, and at the 92nd Street YMHA Jewish Opera series.

He has toured the United States and Canada with the New York Vocal Arts
Ensemble, and has appeared in operetta at the Coachlight Dinner Theater and
the Darien Dinner Theater in Connecticut. For four seasons he was sent by the
Lincoln Center Arts Program to high schools throughout New York City, in
concerts designed to introduce classical music to teenagers. He has served on
the music faculties of the State University of New York at New Paltz and the
American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan, and has given master
classes at Queensboro Community College.

He is the composer of a complete Shabbat Evening Service and arrangements of
traditional liturgical melodies. His CD, The Synagogue Music of Frederick Piket,
is distributed by the Union for Reform Judaism.

About Free Synagogue of Flushing
Founded in 1917, Free Synagogue stands proudly in one of the most ethnically
diverse neighborhoods in the United States. As the oldest Reform Synagogue in
Queens, it was built through the efforts of the Hebrew Woman s Aid Society of
Flushing. The Free Synagogue movement is based on four principals: freedom of
the pulpit for the rabbi; freedom of the pew – no reserved seating in the
sanctuary; direct, full participation of the community; and dedication to the
ideals of liberal democracy and commitment to the Jewish faith. The founders
belief in commitment, freedom and equality of the sexes remain guiding
principals today.

The synagogue itself is an architectural marvel. The neo-classical building,
designed by Maurice Courland, features a massive portico supported by four
ionic pillars topped by a pediment inscribed with the words of Isaiah, For
mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.

In the magnificent sanctuary, dark green pilasters are graced with intricate
gold-leaf filigree. Stained glass windows, crafted in Czechoslovakia,
surround the sanctuary in rich radiant colors. A stained-glass dome designed
around a Star of David is centered in the domed ceiling that covers the
entire sanctuary.