Beth El, Benilde-St. Margaret’s to host music festival

Outdoor event intended to promote unity


Breanna Thompson

Beth El and Benilde will co-sponsor an outdoor music festival June 17. The buildings are right across the street from each other, and the event will be held in the Beth El parking lot.

Yonit Krebs

Looking forward to an upcoming music festival co-hosted by Beth El Synagogue and Benilde-St. Margaret’s, sophomore Miriam Hope, a member of Beth El Synagogue herself, said she encourages all students to take part in the event.

“I don’t think it matters if you’re a member of Beth El or if you go to Benilde,” Hope said. “I think everybody should be welcome because it’s basically celebrating diversity and that sort of thing.”

According to Beth El Rabbi Avi Olitzky, Beth El and Benilde will host a music festival June 17 called Common Sound Festival.

“We are partnering with Benilde-St. Margaret’s, and we’re doing are an iteration of the SOCA block party,” Olitzky said. “At the very least, we’re launching a new summer music festival, and the doors will open at 3, music will start at 4 and end by 9.”

Olitzky said the event intended to promote communal unity includes four musical performances along with food and drink.

“The headliners are the Gin Blossoms and The Big Wu, as well as Amanda and Berek Awend and the Common Ground company,” Olitzky said.

Hope said she expects the message the festival wishes to convey will promote high attendance.

“I think it will just draw such a big crowd, and it’s just such a good message that we shouldn’t separate religions, and we should all become one,” Hope said.

According to Hope, Beth El and Benilde have a strong relationship and are willing to help each other out.

“I really appreciate how welcoming Benilde is. When we were under construction about five years ago, they let us use their rooms for babysitting on Saturday mornings and that was really awesome of them,” Hope said.

Olitzky said the increased popularity of speaker series among other institutions, a type of event originally unique to Beth El, motivated him to think of a different way to engage the community.

For many years we’ve been doing all these different speaker series and different community initiatives, and that’s primarily been my portfolio, but one of the things that we wanted to do was try to explore a different avenue,” Olitzky said. “Part of that is because when we started doing the speaker series no one else was doing them. Now, everyone is doing them.”

Olitzky said the current political climate also inspired Beth El to think of a way to address these topics and promote unity.

“In light of the conversation surrounding divisiveness and vitriol and hate in the community, we thought what better way to spread the message of coming together and harmony than by putting on a concert and working with our neighbors,” Olitzky said. “Since we have a great relationship with Benilde-St. Margaret’s, we put our heads together in this is where we ended up.”

President of Benilde-St. Margaret’s School Adam Ehrmantraut said the two organizations have been discussing doing an outdoor music festival co-sponsored by both organizations for a few years.

“I think the idea has been percolating in Rabbi Olitzky’s mind for many years, and I know he’s talked about it informally but last year we started to talk about it in a more formal manner,” Ehrmantraut said. “We’ve enjoyed a long relationship so we wanted to continue that.”

Although this is the first event that is co-sponsored to this degree, the relationship between Beth El and Benilde goes back to Beth El’s relocation from Minneapolis to St. Louis Park.

“The land where Beth El currently sits was owned by the Christian Brothers who also owned Benilde high school at the time, and they made an agreement, a handshake deal, and sold the land to folks who wanted to move Beth El to St Louis Park and that’s really where the relationship started,” Ehrmantraut said.

According to Olitzky, assuming this first year is well-attended and successful, Common Sound will become an annual music festival. The profit will be split between the hosting institutions.

“Any net proceeds will be split 50-50 between the organizations supporting financial aid for indigent families for either preschool or student tuition,” Olitzky said.

Olitzky encourages Park students to partake in the event as it provides the opportunity to enjoy an inexpensive outdoor concert.

“As far as I’m concerned, at least when I was in high school, and I know many high school students that really get excited for outdoor concerts,” Olitzky said. “This isn’t an expensive and a kind of exciting one, not only because the story behind it is from a good vain, but the music there, the energy and the atmosphere, it will be a good time.”

For more information visit the event website: