Hebrew Russian cantor Svetlana Portnyanski performs for B’nai Chaim benefit

Russian Jewish cantor and performer Svetlana Portnyanski performs at the B’nai Chaim congregation fundraiser at Lorimar Vineyards and Winery in Temecula, Sunday, Sept. 8. Tony Ault photo

Cantor and renowned performer of Jewish songs, Russian romances and Ukranian melodies Svetlana Portnyanski warmly greeted Congregation B’nai Chaim at their benefit dinner Sunday, Sept. 8, at Lorimar Vineyards and Winery in Temecula.

“This is a night of ‘Ahava’ or love,” Portnyanski said to the congregation and guests.

The singer, a graduate of Russia’s premier Gnesin Musical Academy of Moscow in 1986, is no stranger to B’nai Chiam and Rabbi Marc Rubenstein, and will serve as the congregation’s cantor for the upcoming Jewish High Holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah that begins this year Sunday, Sept. 29, for a day of atonement.

“I want to congratulate everybody with the upcoming wonderful events. It’s 5,780 to you Jewish here,” she said. “And I want to wish you 5,780 lobsters and very good things happen this year.”

She delighted the guests with some of her top album songs like “Biri-Born,” “Ein Yaffa K’israel,” “Adon Olam” and “Ve’hu Yashmisnu.” Her music brought hand-clapping and some Russian Hebrew dancing to some of the guests who cheered and applauded.

She sang her own renditions of Barbara Streisand’s music hits, delighting guests even more. Ending her concert, she sang out “Hava Nagia” or “Let us rejoice,” which is Israel’s most well-known song worldwide and guest’s broke out with dancing and cheers.

The special event was hosted at Lorimar Vineyards and Winery, 39990 Anza Road, in Temecula and benefited B’nai Chaim Temple, 29500 Via Princessa, in Murrieta. The congregation serves about 100 members in the community. B’nai Chaim was founded in 1972 at the Spring Knolls Community Center in Murrieta and later moved to its current location.

The congregation is well-known in the community for holding its Hanukkah celebration, which begins on different days in late November or December, at the Temecula Duck Pond where the public is invited to participate. Hanukkah is signified with a nine-candle candelabrum to commemorate the rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire about 2,000 years ago or the 3,500s in the Jewish calendar.

Tony Ault may be emailed at tault@reedermedia.com.