MARBLEHEAD – Temple Emanu-El’s first ever online telethon will feature a variety of music and entertainment, and just like the emcee of the Jerry Lewis telethon, its hosts, Rabbi David Meyer and Music Director Jon Nelson, will be sporting tuxedoes.
And while this telethon – to be streamed on Facebook Live, Zoom, and YouTube – won’t last 24 hours, the temple hopes the event will raise some funds, be fun, and connect with the community during the coronavirus crisis, which has forced the temple to close to in-person worship services.
The Reform congregation of more than 550 members is planning to hold the remote two-hour telethon on Sunday, Jan. 31, starting at 5 p.m. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and for the safety of others, performances will be prerecorded and streamed that night.
Leaders of the temple on Atlantic Avenue in Marblehead said COVID-19 has impacted its ability to host its annual fund-raiser.
The online telethon will be a first for the temple, and it will feature a variety of acts, including singers, dancers, temple kids doing magic tricks, and some surprises.
There is no charge to tune in, but temple leaders hope viewers will help exceed its fund-raising goals through call-in donations, sponsorships, and an online auction.
“This evening will be so much fun for everybody,” said Meyer. “Not only is it an opportunity to raise much-needed funds for the congregation, but really to share and to continue to build our community. We have lots of entertainment that will be part of the evening. Some of it from our kids. Some of it from professionals. Everything from jazz musicians, comedians; Jon Nelson and I will share some music videos, and it’s actually going to be a little bit hard to cram it all into a couple of hours, we have so much to share. This is very much part of our vision of creating a connected community.”
“This is a totally new type of fund-raising endeavor for us,” said Gail New, chair of the Telethon Planning Committee. “Attendance is free and to our knowledge we are the first local nonprofit to try this model. Although every fund-raiser brings a fair amount of work and challenges, producing this event has had its own level of excitement and has afforded us the opportunity to include our entire community.”
Meyer said professional talent who have prepared performances will include comedian Rabbi Bob Alper, folksinger Christopher Williams, and jazz vocalist Cassandre McKinley.
Meyer also gave credit to the technical crew volunteering to help make the telethon happen: Steve London, Howard Nunes, and Matt Friedman.