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West Philly Orchestra rocks the Art Museum

cu west philly orchestra klezmer

The West Philadelphia Orchestra entertained an enthusiastic and dancing crowd of youngsters and oldsters for a Chanukah celebration at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a December Friday night as part of the museum’s “Art After 5” program. The West Philadelphia Klezmer Orchestra, an offshoot of the band, played primarily Klezmer, East European celebration music,  for the occasion. What began on a West Philadelphia porch in 2006 as a mostly string ensemble playing Macedonian tunes, Romanian ballads and Jewish folk songs has evolved over the years into brass instrument Balkan band  playing Serbian and Gypsy melodies and its own versions of these genres. Watch video here.

Quiet fallen firefighter played "Prince Charming"

Recalling fallen firefighter, "Prince Charming"

Bishop McDevitt High School Admissions Director Christopher Seifert smiles recalling the memory of former  schoolmate Daniel Sweeney. The  young Philadelphia firefighter  died from injuries suffered battling a blaze in a vacant building in the city's Kensington section. Sweeney, a junior when Seifert was a senior, was so quiet around school, that Seifert was surprised when Sweeney assumed the lead role of Prince Charming in the musical Cinderella they were both acting in. Sweeney's mother still teaches at the school and his  youngest sister  just graduated. There will be a memorial service at the school with the family in the next month. Wyncote, PA. Watch video interview here.

Was near death, now teaches balance, Tai Chi and shenanigans

Geroge Warner

I am the only child or Roscoe and Virginia Pauline Warner… HOW DID YOU GET INTO PHYSICAL THERAPY? Football injury in high school. Then I went to Shepherd University played four years as starting center at Shepherd. So if I messed up, everybody knew it and the play was toast.  ARE YOU STILL ACTIVE ATHLETICALLY OR SPORTS-WISE? Keystone Senior Games. I did ten events. Shot-put, discus, hammer throw, foul shooting, badminton, tennis, swimming…. March first I will be seven decades. But I was getting all ready last summer and I just didn’t feel right. And in February my intestines blew. And so I went from playing tennis to emergency surgery. Eight days of induced coma. During the coma (I’m sure it was sometime there) I went, ‘God, are you sure you got the right guy?’ And he didn’t answer. And then he came back in and He says, ‘George, I will take you home some day but I got some things for you to do.’ ‘God, please tell me it’s a long list.’ During that time I felt no fear, anxiety and it’s true. I think they did shift work between God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit- you know, around the clock. And the surgeons told my wife, ‘There’s no way he’s going to survive this’ because I had pneumonia, peritonitis …and it wasn’t to be my time. So since that time I teach a class once a week- balance, flexibility, isometrics, tai chi and shenanigans.  And I do it for free. CAN YOU SHOW US A SHENANIGAN?  Do you want my wife to really do me in? [To his wife] Young lady, do you know what a shenanigan is? George Warner of Hershey, PA spending New Year’s in Carlisle, PA.

Watch video interview here.



At age 85, her Mom becomes a nun

Susan Morse Writer


“’Nobody dies at the end of this book. Try not to let this fact mislead you. As far as my Mother is concerned, it is important to distinguish between what death actually is and what it isn’t. There’s a body and there’s a soul. One dies, the other doesn’t, ever. And then there’s how I feel about it, which is complicated.’”

“My name is Susan Morse and I have written a book called, “The Habit” which is the story of my Mother who at age 85 in the middle of a health crisis which I was shepherding her through the medical system, became an Orthodox Christian nun. And it’s the story of our relationship…

She was on a quest. She was spiritually hungry her whole life. In the 1940s during the wartime she met my father and married him just as many people did -married a man who was about to go off to war. It was a relationship that was never really a true, passionate romance and there was a lot of trouble there. But they stuck it out. They raised four children together and end up actually quite content with each other by the end.

After the kids moved, out she started experimenting with lots of different religions and kept changing, Episcopalian to Roman Catholic to a different kind of Roman Catholic back to Episcopalian, all these different things. And she’s an artist and at one point she began taking these workshops painting Byzantine icons. And that is something you have to pray when you’re doing it, the workshops tell you.  The whole system is really, really strict technique. And she discovered that her icons which she was feeling very satisfied with the process of doing those, were not legitimate in the Orthodox Church because she was not an Orthodox Christian.

My Mother really believes in- if you believe in something you really have to throw your whole self into it. So for her to be a Christian is not enough. She needed to go all the way.

She says now she dreamt about being a nun from when she was a little girl. She was 85 when she became a nun and she was frail. There was no question of her taking on a job. For the frail and elderly ones – she became, literally, she’s called a ‘house nun’, which means she stays in her house, and she prays. And that’s what she does!”

Susan Morse, reading from the preface to her newly published book, “The Habit.” Morse will be reading from her book on Wednesday, January 25th in the Bombay Room at the Chestnut Hill Hotel and on January 26th at Headhouse Books in Society Hill. Both events are from 7:00 to 8:30.

Watch video here.




Skyspace for new Friends Meeting in Chestnut Hill

Open sky space for new Friends meeting House


This is a sky space in Pomona in California and I think these are houses maybe in Connecticut.  I’m not quite sure. But his work is all over the word now. But none on the East Coast is open year round to the public. There’s a sky space at the Modern Art Museum PS1 annex …There’s a Turrel there. And I didn’t understand all the fuss until I went and saw that. It’s astonishing. You take the freight elevator to the second floor of this old school building and the corridors painted bright enamel green. You walk down the corridor and there’s a little green door that says “Meeting by James Turrell” You open this little green door and inside is a white chamber filled with light.  And there are people sitting all around the perimeter on benches. And you know these kids in New York with their piercings and their blue hair. And you know they’re very hip artists. They’re silent looking up at this great opening to the sky. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SKY SPACE? Well it’s a hole in the roof. It’s an aperture that is so cunningly designed there’s no architectural feature. You can’t tell that it’s constructed. It is just a diamond in the sky, coming down… It’s a retractable roof so obviously when it’s raining, you got to cover it. It opens up and there’s no glass, it’s just open to the air. And you sit under this. I went in February when it was 21 degrees Fahrenheit so it was very cold. So we sat all huddled under our blankets looking at this. And during the day you just see the clouds going by like the geese or the contrails of the jet planes…It’s at sunset and sunrise that it has the most dramatic-it’s the change of color, the change of the light. Turrell has some very small lighting around the outside that is a contrasting color. So what happens is the color becomes more and more saturated…. It’s intensely blue so it’s in contrast with this color. It’s very gradual very slow, it takes maybe 45 minutes for the color to change and change and darken…

Jean Warrington, Clerk of the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting at the Chestnut Hill Library. See

Vault is simple, safe church


The Gathering at the Vault in Salem Massachussets is a simple church that is "large on love and little on rules. We like to think of it as a 'safe' place" says Pastor Phil Wyman; the building houses a vault because it was once a bank. A Sunday morning sing-a-long was shaping up on a  recent Sunday mornin as families unhurriedly gathered for the morning service. Watch video here.

Rehab work at Salvation Army thrift store dropoff


WHAT KIND OF STUFF ARE YOU COLLECTING? “I collect a little bit of everything. I collect clothing, I collect household items, vacuum cleaners, TVs, things like that. The furniture goes around the other side. The Salvation Army pretty much takes donations of all types. IS THERE A LARGE DEMAND FOR THESE USED ITEMS? “Yeah, pretty much always, you know there’s always people a little short on money and they come, get clothing, stuff like that. It’s not very expensive at all. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING WITH THE SALVATION ARMY? “I’ve been in this program, it’s an adult rehabilitation program. I’ve been in it for the last three months. They get you grounded with Christ, things like that.” Kevin Potter, Salvation Army, Roxborough, Philadelphia. Watch video interview here.

A Jew and Jehovah's Witnesses engage


THE PROBLEM I HAVE WITH THE BIBLE IS THE HEAVEN AND HELL STUFF THAT IF I DON’T BELIEVE A CERTAIN WAY I’M GOING TO GO TO HELL? DO YOU BELIEVE I’M GOING TO GO TO HELL? Carol Peopples: “No, well…” Alice Tillman “You have to understand what hell is” CP: Yes, in getting with the doctrine… AT: …the Bible has its own definition of these things. What people believe hell is and what people believe heaven is you’d be surprised. The Bible gives you a reasonable and appropriate answer for it. Carol Peopples, left, and Alice Tillman, right, Jehovah Witnesses on Mrs. Peopples second or third impromptu visit to our house. Watch video interview here

To you be your way, to me be mine

Mikal Abdur Rahman, member of Masjid As-Sunnah An-Nabawiyyah, Germantown.

A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE PREJUDICE AGAINST MUSLIMS TODAY BECAUSE OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE WORLD. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT ISLAM? “Islam is not a terroristic religion. It just means submission to the will of Allah. And we follow the sunnah or the customs or the ways of the prophet Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon him and his companions. May Allah be pleased with them all. We as Muslims implore people to come together, not to fight, even if you don’t have the same religion as ours. There’s an ayah in the Koran which says, “Lakum deenukum waliya deeni” which means, ‘to you be your way and to me be mine,” A lot of times in religions you see people may be extremists but someone who is in the right middle course of Islam you will not find them doing any of those acts that a lot of people have heard that we do.” Mikal Abdur Rahman, member of Masjid As-Sunnah An-Nabawiyyah, Germantown, seen in Chestnut Hill on  East Evergreen Avenue. Watch video interview here.