A first-time visit to South Africa, newly free of apartheid in the mid-1990s, was an eye opener for Rev. Linda Tarry-Chard.
Rev. Tarry-Chard, minister for interfaith relations at Riverside Church on The Upper West Side, was shocked by the poverty and the still-inequitable living conditions she saw in the townships where many of the country’s black citizens lived.
Her concern led to the formation of a fundraising organization for South Africa’s majority population, the Project People Foundation, and a series of sensitivity-raising projects, including annual interfaith concerts.
“It started out in churches” in several U.S. cities, Rev. Tarry-Chard says.
And next week a PPF Celebrating Life concert will be held for the first time in a synagogue. The 1,300-seat of Manhattan’s Congregation Rodeph Sholom, on West 83rd Street, will feature participants from both the synagogue and the church on Thursday, Oct. 29, 6:30 p.m., including Cantor Rebecca Garfein and the Rodeph Sholom children’s choir along with a choir from Riverside Church (www.projectpeoplefoundation.org;  870-6702). They will perform Hebrew and gospel music.
“A little bit of everything,” says Cantor Garfein, who was involved in planning the event. “Music can bring people together, no matter what language they speak.”
The cantor says the interfaith concert is consistent with the congregation’s ongoing work with the Christian community; Rodeph Sholom takes part in an annual interfaith Freedom Seder and has collected black dolls for distribution to black children in South Africa. “For our congregation, social action is extremely important,” she says.
Money raised at the concert will support PPF activities, which include job training programs for women, uniforms for schoolchildren in townships and rural areas, and grants for entrepreneurial nongovernmental organizations.