Cantor Kenny Ellis will perform a mix of comedy and music in honor of Holocaust survivor Clara Knopfler at California Lutheran University on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Ellis will present “Songs of Love” at 6 p.m. in Lundring Events Center on the Thousand Oaks campus.
The event is the second in a series of three organized to celebrate Knopfler’s 90th birthday and raise money for the Clara Knopfler Jewish Leadership Scholarship at Cal Lutheran.
Ellis, an Agoura Hills resident, has been the cantor at Temple Beth Ami in Santa Clarita since 2010. He previously served as the cantor at the former Temple Beth Havorim in Agoura Hills for 15 years. He produced and hosted Jewish radio shows in Philadelphia, New York City and Los Angeles. He compiled a comedy CD, “The Man Behind the Matzoh Ball,” and broke new ground with “Hanukkah Swings!,” a big band album featuring jazzy adaptations of songs like “Swingin’ Dreidel” as well as original tunes like “Hanucalypso.” He has appeared at The Improv, The Comedy Store, The Laugh Factory and at resorts in the Catskill Mountains, Miami Beach and Israel.
Knopfler was born in Romania and later lived in Hungary. In 1944, she was taken to a ghetto and subsequently transported to Auschwitz, then Riga concentration camp and later to two labor camps in East Prussia. After a long death march, she was liberated in 1945. She and her mother were the only members of their extended family of 37 to survive. Now a resident of University Village in Thousand Oaks, Knopfler speaks frequently at schools, churches, temples and colleges, including Cal Lutheran, to educate people about the dangers of hatred and the importance of acceptance, freedom and respect for all. Her memoir, “I Am Still Here: My Mother’s Voice,” was published in 2007.
A donation of $36 for the Clara Knopfler Jewish Leadership Scholarship is suggested. The scholarship provides support to Jewish student leaders. The number of Jewish students at Cal Lutheran is growing and currently stands at about 150. Knopfler has been involved with the Hillel club, which provides Jewish students with a community and opportunities to explore their identity.
The series of events will conclude April 30 with a Holocaust Day Commemoration featuring scholar Michael Berenbaum as the keynote speaker.
Lundring Events Center is in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center, which is located north of Olsen Road near Mountclef Boulevard.
The Office of Campus Ministry-Jewish Life is sponsoring the event. For more information, contact Rabbi Belle Michael at [email protected].