Eprhyme at Sandy's Row synagogue
It was a fusion of ancient architecture, traditional klezmer, Middle East politics and dirty hip-hop when New York rapper Eprhyme stormed Sandy’s Row synagogue on Wednesday night.
More than 60 people, both old and young, filled the gallery and danced around the ornate bimah and ark at 250-year-old synagogue in east London, the oldest Ashkenazi shul in the capital.
Eprhyme, aka Eden Pearlstein, entertained the crowd with Michael Jackson samples, jazz, funk and klezmer beats and rap lyrics covering kabbalah, Jewish identity, radical politics and climate change.
Previously, Eprhyme has been touring with actors and musicians for Merkavah Theatre, playing the narrator in their Purim hip hop megillah, which has been performed at synagogues, the Jewish Community Centre and King Solomon High School in Barkingside.
Eprhyme, who wears a kippah and tzitzit, said of his performances: “Judaism roots what I do. It allows me to stay connected to myself, to God and to my community.”
Young Jewish collective Moishe House London, whose founder is Merkavah Theatre's artistic director Joel Stanley, organised the gig at Sandy's Row, the rapper’s last in the UK.
It marked the opening of the Open Jewish Culture Festival, organised by OJC producer Jack Gilbert and Chair of London Jewish Forum Adrian Cohen.
Mr Gilbert said: “This was such a great start event for us, fusing together two cultures which perhaps might never have met before.”