The following article was published in Queens Jewish Link.
You couldn’t sit still as the rhythmic music of Pumpidisa flowed through the spacious, airy shul at the Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Queens during a special concert event on Wednesday afternoon, June 28. Residents were clapping their hands, swaying, and singing along to the music, along with family members and Queens community members. The door to the shul opened into the lovely signature, famous, flowered courtyard that adorns Margaret Tietz. The scent of flowers wafted in during the concert.
The transformation that this band accomplished was magical. Residents who came in with blank or serious expressions were suddenly singing and clapping with broad smiles spread across their faces. Everyone was entranced by the wonderful performance of Pumpidisa. There is nothing like music to open people’s hearts. Their band travels all over the world. They’ve performed in 40 countries and recently returned from a performance in Australia.
There were two guitars and singers, Tzvi and Matt Levin (who are brothers), percussion was played by Levi Blesofsky, and the keyboard was played by Mendel Hodakov.
Tzvi and Matt’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor. So, it was particularly meaningful for them to perform at Margaret Tietz, which was originally founded for the benefit of Holocaust survivors.
Linda Spiegel, Director of Public Affairs at Margaret Tietz, was able to book this incredible event because of the help of Rabbi Mayer Waxman, Executive Director of the Queens Jewish Community Council. Ms. Spiegel greeted everyone and thanked the QJCC for procuring funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.
One of the residents took the mike at the end to thank the band for this wonderful performance.
The Director of Recreation, Ricardo Rosa Solo, sang along in an awesome baritone that rang throughout the room.
Tzvi said, “We look up to our elders. We stand on the shoulder of those who were here before us.” He translated the meaning of the Hebrew words and then they began the concert with a song titled “Hallelu,” which he explained means we are praising Hashem for all that He gives us. With every breath, we have the opportunity to praise Hashem.
They sang “Avinu Malkeinu” and he explained the meaning and its connection to Rosh HaShanah.
They also sang “Hinei Mah Tov,” “Havah Nagilah,” and other old favorites, like “Kol HaOlam Kulo Gesher Tzar M’od.”
The band players were clearly enjoying themselves, as they put their whole heart into each song, wanting to share the joy of music with the residents.
What stood out musically were the instrumental solos, the harmonies, and the wonderful rhythm.
When asked what he likes most about playing with the band, Matt replied: the brotherhood and the achdus.
One resident said, “It was beautiful. It brought back a lot of memories.”
Margaret Tietz offers Friday night services and a hot kiddush on Shabbos morning for residents. There is a Shabbos apartment for families, as well.
One family member extolled the care her mother received at Margaret Tietz. “She came in with a bad infection, bedridden, and was unable to walk. Now, thanks to an incredible team of therapists at Margaret Tietz, she is able to stand and is doing so much better.”
The community thanks Margaret Tietz for all they do and for this uplifting, wonderful concert.