THIS WEEK’s SUNDAY SIMCHA ~ November 26, 2023 ~ 13 Kislev, 5784
This program can be heard in the WMNF Archive for one week following its broadcast.
Through these difficult weeks since October 7th when Hamas attacked Israel, Jews worldwide have shared an intense grief from the loss of lives, communities, and the trauma of the kidnappings, deaths, and expanding war. We have joined Israeli artists in sharing music expressing our anguish and calls for unity and the return of the hostages. This weekend, as the first groups of hostages have been released and returned to Israel, our music has been gathered to support the hostages and one another with comfort, courage, and faith through this emotional period in which there has been so much suffering. The music of this week’s broadcast features the voices of Bat-Ella, Alissa Pomerantz-Boro, Beth Schafer, Terry Horwit, Benny Friedman, The Ma’ayan Band, Joey Newcomb, HaDudaim, Dorit Farkash, Danny Maseng, Roni Dalumi, and a just-released CD by the Swedish trio Salamander (view on Bandcamp). Additionally, guest Myrna Wolf of St. Petersburg joined us in the studio.
With much sadness, we announced two weeks ago that Rande Friedman has completed his last show with this program — not because he doesn’t love us! — but because his business has expanded to such a degree that he must devote more time to it. Joy Katzen-Guthrie continues to bring you the Sunday Simcha, and we are delighted to announce that St. Petersburg cantorial leader, speaker, and facilitator of the Women’s Spirituality Circle of Temple Beth Am of St. Petersburg Myrna Wolf will be coming on board as co-host of our program beginning on December 19th. Myrna, we are thrilled to welcome you to WMNF and The Sunday Simcha, and Rande, we wish you continued success in all you do and hope you’ll be joining us as a guest in the months ahead.
This week’s program is currently in our archive on this page. Last week’s (November 19th) program featuring the voices of Chava Albertstein, Ishay Ribo, Theodore Bikel, Tzomet Band, Shoshana Jedwab, Folkadu, Rabbi Marc Phillippe, Dan Nichols, Cilla Dagan, Shlomo Katz, Ori Harpaz, and Ofir Ben Shitrit may be heard and downloaded here.
We deeply thank our supporters who led us to surpass our fundraising goal on our Pledge Drive Program in October. THANK YOU. Please support Israeli emergency relief in this time of unimaginable tragedy. Give to your local Jewish Federations, Hadassah, Magein David Adom, StandWithUs.org, Hadassah, and others who are providing funds for medical support and humanitarian efforts for the wounded, for the families of those lost, and for refugees. God Bless You and God Bless Israel and all who seek peace in these difficult times.
Our Sunday Simcha programs from all of 2023 may be heard and downloaded from our Sunday Simcha Archive.
THE SUNDAY SIMCHA: A TRADITION IN TAMPA BAY SINCE 1980
Since 1980, The Sunday Simcha has featured Jewish entertainment, culture, and information with music from Jewish artists and communities around the globe, local Tampa Bay/Central Florida events and activities, news of Jewish culture, arts, and happenings from around the world, comedy, interviews, and weekly spiritual features. Our audience has an international listenership, both Jewish and non-Jewish.
Among WMNF’s earliest programs after the station signed on air in 1979, The Jewish Sound (as originally named) was hosted by Oded Salpeter from 1980-1985. In 1986, when Oded took a similar position with WKAT-Miami, Mike Eisenstadt took over fully as programmer/host (after serving as a reporter/guest host frequently in the years prior), giving it the name by which it has been known since—The Sunday Simcha. Until his passing in 2005, Mike dedicated himself with whole heart to this program and to WMNF Radio as he brought news of the local Jewish community, Israel, and Jewish community worldwide and aired news and cultural features in addition to the range of Jewish music and comedy for which the program became well known.
Rabbi Shalom Adler, Founder of Chabad/Young Israel of Pinellas County, brought listeners a recorded or live Weekly Dvar Torah—a tradition carried forward by his son, Rabbi Pinchas Adler, in a live interview each week. Kevin Frye and Shlomo (Steve) Schwersky served as hosts of The Sunday Simcha following Mike’s death. After Kevin’s untimely passing in 2016, Shlomo and daughter Jordyn Schwersky, co-hosted the program, dedicating themselves to giving Jewish news around the world and expanding the music library of the program. The two announced their plans to retire in spring 2019; Joy Katzen-Guthrie took over as host of the program beginning June 16, 2019 and Rande Friedman joins Joy as a co-programmer/host of the program beginning May 15, 2022.
With an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary, Klezmer, Chassidic, Israeli, Yiddish, Ladino, Mizrachi, Liturgical, and a variety of Jewish folk, pop, stage, and film music from artists around the globe, features have included Milot Chochmah—Words of Wisdom—in which rabbis, cantors, and Jewish spiritual leaders from the Tampa Bay Region share a Dvar Torah, personal insight or teaching. Programs are additionally spiced with a touch of humor via A Bisl Freylichkayt—A Little Mirth. Community Kvell is a celebration of members of the local community, and The Kehillah Calendar provides events in the weeks ahead.
We are grateful for your comments, suggestions, donations and for your ears! Join us weekly, hear our program in the weekly WMNF archive on this page, and contact us any time at [email protected].
Joining the Sunday Simcha as its new host in June 2019, Palm Harbor-based Cantorial Leader and Jewish educator/concert/recording artist Joy Katzen-Guthrie moved to the Tampa Bay Region in 1981 from her native Memphis after receiving degrees in Broadcast Communications and Music from Stephens College in Columbia, MO. Joining Temple B'nai Israel in Clearwater, she became an active volunteer with the temple, JCC, Jewish Federation, and other Jewish organizations. She joined WPLP News/Talk Radio as Traffic Director, then Executive Producer and Operations Manager; announcer-producer and Public Affairs Director for WXCR Classics 92 and Traffic Reporter for WDAE/W101. With her husband, Mark Guthrie, she operates Tune-of-the-Century Music.® She remains a busy studio and voiceover artist.
Joy served as Cantorial Leader for Temple Shir Shalom of Gainesville, Temple Bnai Israel of Clearwater, and Cong. Beth Am of Tampa in addition to serving as a visiting concert/cantorial artist and scholar in residence nationally. She has been a longtime instructor/concert artist for OLLI at Eckerd College, USF OLLI and many adult learning programs presenting programs of Jewish interest, music history, theatre and cinema scores and many other subjects related to entertainment.
Joy served as a creator and scholar in residence for seven Jewish heritage tours to China and Turkey in addition to developing Jewish heritage tours around the world in conjunction with several travel agencies. She has been a contributor to the Encyclopedia Judaica and speaks widely on the subject of the Jews of China.
Her love of Israeli and global Jewish music fuels her programs, both traditional and contemporary in all genres including Ashkenazic, Chassidic and Sephardic, Yemenite and African, European, Latin American, Oriental, American, liturgical, stage, and folk. Her programs are often themed to holidays and experiences of Jewish life, composers, performers, and genres. She hopes to expand the aesthetic experience of Jewish music and culture historically and shares her enthusiasm with listeners.
RANDE FRIEDMAN SERVED AS CO-HOST OF THE SUNDAY SIMCHA FROM MAY 2022 TO NOVEMBER 2023
Joining the Sunday Simcha as co-programmer/host from May 2022 to November 2022, Rande Friedman hails from Chicago, where in his words, his parents wanted to raise the family in worse weather—so they moved to Buffalo when he was two. Rande worked in the family shoe stores in both Buffalo and then in Tampa Bay. After 25 years in retail, he became what he says is his perfect profession, a realtor.
Within Tampa Bay's Jewish community, Rande’s main claim to fame is through his creation of the Greater Seder event in 2005, when Rande proposed the production of a musical comedy Seder and immediately drew support. He and friends and colleagues formed a troupe, “The Kosher Hams,” and have since entertained thousands while raising money for The Tampa Jewish Family Service’s Food Bank.
With his background in musical comedy, his love of speaking, interviewing, comedy, and his easy-going nature, Rande Friedman adds another dimension to the Sunday Simcha.
SHLOMO AND JORDYN SCHWERSKY RETIRED AS HOSTS OF THE SUNDAY SIMCHA IN JUNE 2019 AFTER HOSTING OUR PROGRAM FOR 9 YEARS
Shlomo moved to Clearwater in 1972 and became active in the Jewish community and a WMNF volunteer and host beginning in 1984. He joined Kevin Frye as co-host of the Sunday Simcha in December of 2010 and took over as host with his daughter, Jordyn after Kevin's death. Jordyn was born and raised in the Tampa Bay Area and after receiving her Bachelors degree in Journalism, she spent 5 months as a reporter at the Jerusalem Post in Israel. She joined Kevin and Shlomo as a guest host until becoming Shlomo's co-host in 2016.
Shlomo and Jordyn expanded the Sunday Simcha music programming with current and rising artists. Their devotion to Jewish music and culture, and to Israel shines through everything they do and added a unique and fulfilling distinction to the Simcha that made it a favorite with listeners around the world, Jewish and non-Jewish alike.
KEVIN FRYE HOSTED THE SUNDAY SIMCHA FROM 2005 to 2016, taking over the program after Mike Eisenstadt's death and serving until his own death in December 2016 at only age 48.
How does one describe an individual as vital, gifted, and beloved as Kevin Frye? "He was a teacher who touched countless lives in his career, a dedicated man of faith, and wonderful friend to so many," said friend and colleague John Stephan to Creative Loafing magazine in 2016. These words only begin to capture what Kevin was to all of us.
He came to the Tampa Bay Area in 1972 from his native New York, graduating from USF with a Master's Degree in Music Conducting after undergraduate studies in trumpet performance.
And boy could Kevin make that trumpet sing! His instrument and his voice became a centerpiece of The Mike Eisenstadt Band for more than 15 years until Mike died—after which he took over the band, directing it until his death only 11 years later. He was also a dedicated member of the Florida Wind Band and Orchestra Director at Madison Middle School, where his love and enthusiasm for music inspired everyone who met him.
Kevin's devotion to the Tampa Jewish community was fierce, not only through music, but through participation in community events and synagogue life. He was a gift to The Sunday Simcha, keeping it alive after our community and WMNF were stunned to lose Mike, and he brought continuing joy to all in the Tampa Bay Community and to listeners of the Simcha around the world.
MIKE EISENSTADT HOSTED THE SUNDAY SIMCHA FROM 1985 until 2005.
The name Mike Eisenstadt remains a legend in the Jewish community of Florida and well beyond. Mike not only brought joy through Jewish music, but was renowned in Jewish life and community life in Tampa Bay. No matter where he went around town, it was as if everybody knew him. A native of Bristol, Rhode Island, he caught the music bug early from his multi-generation family of klezmer musicians. The “Buckler Family Band” gathered for many a family simcha and community event.
But it was The Tampa Jewish Federation's need for music entertainment for a fundraising gala in 1988 that inspired the creation of The Mike Eisenstadt Band. For the next 27 years under Mike's direction, it became the band that everyone Jewish (and many others) in Florida brought to a Simcha as one of the state's most successful klezmer/rock party bands.
Taking over as producer and host of The Sunday Simcha in December 1985 after the departure to Miami of Oded Salpeter, the program's original host (1980-1985 as The Jewish Sound), Mike renamed the two-hour broadcast The Sunday Simcha in 1986 after asking listeners to suggest a new name. From more than 100 submissions, he selected the name The Sunday Simcha.
A highlight of Mike's shows was his "Mazel Tov" section at 11:45 AM. The segment became increasingly popular as listeners called or wrote Mike to provide their "mazel tov's." With announcements of meetings, events, and news of interest to the Jewish community, Mike expanded the entire program to the role of community bulletin board. Frequent guests visited to discuss news, music, issues, ideas, and concerns of the Jewish community. Combined with diverse Jewish music and comedy, the program gained a tremendous audience. All in a pre-internet/email era, by the way—when Mike invited listeners to mail in their announcements, news, ideas, and comments to the station's street address, then on Nebraska Avenue—and a steady stream of them did.
As an authority on Jewish humor, Mike also served as a lecturer for the Florida Humanities Council. He and wife Debbi were founding members of Congregation Kol Ami in Tampa, where Mike was ever present and served on the Board. In 2001, after 25 years as a volunteer Jewish community activist, Mike took over as Director of Community Relations for the Tampa Jewish Federation as well as member of the Board of the Tampa Jewish Federation and Jewish National Fund as well as a co-founder of Tampa PRIMER (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting).
Then there were the trips to Israel that Mike and Debbi organized and led. Many in the community experienced the fun, insight, and discovery anew of Israel through traveling with Mike.
In 2003, Mike and his band recorded a first album, "Ta'am," that included contributions from Cantor Moshe Friedler. In late 2004, as he battled cancer, he and his band joyfully recorded his CD "Chazak!" ("Strength!") at Morrisound Studios in Tampa and enjoyed a massive CD release party in early 2005 in which the entire Jewish community and many more turned out.
When Mike passed in September of 2005, the entire Tampa Bay community and Sunday Simcha listenership felt a gaping hole. Just before he died, the Tampa Jewish Federation honored Mike and Debbi for their contribution to the Tampa Bay community. Following his death, in 2006, WMNF Radio dedicated the “Mike Eisenstadt Live Music Studio”—still so named today—an integral part of life at WMNF Radio and the studio from which live broadcasts continue to emanate.
For 11 years after Mike's death, Kevin Frye took over as bandleader and retained the name "The Mike Eisenstadt Band” to carry on Mike's legacy and music. Since Kevin's death from cancer in 2016 and after the passing of one of the band's devoted longtime pianists, Bonnie Lefkof (Bonnie Lynd) of cancer in 2018, the collective joyous force that was The Mike Eisenstadt Band lives only in unending memory and in the joy of his recordings.