Welcome to Masorti Canada - MERCAZ-Canada

The Canadian home of Masorti/Conservative Judaism in Israel.

Connecting the Canadian Jewish Community with Israel
Lier la communauté juive canadienne à l’Israël
מחברים את הקהילה היהודית בקנדה לישראל

Join for Jewish Music Week

Sunday May 26

MERCAZ-Canada is thrilled to sponsor the opening event of Jewish Music Week in Toronto on Sunday, May 26th, 2024. What better way to celebrate Lag b'Omer than with a soul-stirring concert?

Join us as we welcome The Afro-Semitic Experience, a unique group that blends two powerful musical traditions. How good are they? Nat Hentoff of The Wall Street Journal wrote of them, "Never before have I heard this lyrically powerful a fusion of Jewish and jazz souls on fire.”

Get your tickets now!

General Admission: $36.00
Friends: $54.00
Premium: $72.00
Experience: $180.00


We are also looking for generous sponsors, both private and corporate to help us make this event an incredible success. This is the first event in Jewish Music Week. There are only 340 tickets available, so they'll go quickly.


Location: The Borochov Cultural Centre, Toronto
Date: Sunday, May 26, 2024
Time: 8:00pm

Don't miss this incredible event!

Click here for tickets

More on the artists here: https://afrosemiticexperience.net/home

Tickets are now available!


Sponsorship opportunities

Your participation as a sponsor will be acknowledged on this website, on the concert programme and at the event. Donors may elect to receive a CRA compliant receipt for their donation.

Payment can be made online at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/38870 and you will receive your CRA accepted receipt within a few moments via e-mail. Please select "Afro-Semetic Experience Concert Sponsorship" from the FUND menu and include your sponsorship amount in the "Custom amount" field.

For donors in amounts greater than $1800, we can offer you two tickets to the event, however, to ensure that your receipt is for the maximum receiptable amount, we either deduct the ticket price from the amount or offer you two paid tickets.

Your donations and sponsorships assist in our work with the Masorti (Conservative) organizations in Canada and has been very successful over the past number of years.

Since the war in Gaza began on October 7th, we have participated in efforts to help rebuild and fortify Israeli society.
We have promoted and participated in missions to Israel since November.

The Canadian Foundation for Masorti Judaism has sent very close to $100,000.00 to help rebuild synagogues and communities in Israel since October 7th, and while we are proud of this fact, we are looking to do much more.

Please consider joining those listed below as sponsors.

Event Sponsors


Stan Greenspan


Judy Schwalm

About the Afro-Semitic Experience

Members and Profiles

Pianist/Composer Warren Byrd is a Hartford, Connecticut Hartford, Connecticut native with an international touring schedule after many fruitful years playing Jazz throughout Southern New England and New York. Born in 1965, the youngest in a family of sixteen, he grew up in a musically fecund world. His experiences with performing began with singing in the church choir with his older siblings and led to rich performing adventures during his teen years, exposing him to the vast past and present of musical ideas. By the time he'd been awarded a full scholarship at for Classical Voice at Hartt College of Music, he'd decided he wanted to be a jazz artist. Through listening to and absorbing an eclectic continuum of music, he formulated his approach to improvisation. He has journeyed with many groups and performers in jazz, r & b, world, latin, pop, etc., as well as Dance and Theatre. A short list of performers would include Archie Shepp, Eddie Henderson, Saskia Laroo, Steve David, David Chevan, Mixashawn Lee Rozie, Kenny Hamber, Alvin Carter, Charles Tolliver and many more.  Along with David Chevan, in 1999 they founded as an expansion of their duo project the celebrated group the Afro-Semitic Experience, with whom they have recorded several albums, including the soon to be, “Our Feet Began To Pray”. Other recent efforts include the 2020 re-release of his album “Truth Raised Twice” and notable collaborations with his wife, Saskia Laroo, such as her most recent release, “Trumpets Around The World” and their live-streamed “Feelgood Fridays” series produced midst the pandemic.

Bassist and composer, David Chevan’s open-minded passion for music has led him to explore a wide range of musical realms from singing in synagogue, to playing bass in Jazz, Gospel, Polka, Klezmer, and Italian wedding bands.  His musical training is as a jazz bassist and much of his compositional thinking and experience derives from that experience. In most every other sense he is a self-taught composer and arranger. As a composer he has an ongoing interest in writing musical pieces that explore the intersection between vernacular cultural music practice and jazz. His compositions and arrangements include writing music for the Afro-Semitic Experience, and the Nu Haven Kapelye, a 30-piece klezmer Orchestra and Big Band. He also composes liturgical jazz compositions melding jazz improvisational practice with Jewish cantorial modes. His works for theater include writing the libretto and composing the music for “Letters from the Affair,” a music theater piece that mixed opera, cantorial and jazz elements together and creating a completely original musical Klezmer Purim Spiel. In addition to performing duos with pianist Warren Byrd and co-leading The Afro-Semitic Experience, he directs, plays bass, composes, and writes arrangements for the Nu Haven Kapelye, and for Bassology, his swinging jazz group. He has recorded 9 CDs with the Afro-Semitic Experience. In 2016, he wrote, arranged, and produced “What’s Nu” a CD of music for the Nu Haven Kapelye. That recording has roughly 30 musicians on many of the tracks.

Will Bartlett has over forty years of experience as a professional musician and music educator. He studied with Jimmy Heath and Lew Tabackin and performed with Frank Foster, Lee Konitz, Slide Hampton, and Roswell Rudd among many others. Will practices Buddhism in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh where his dharma name is Compassionate Sound of the Heart.

Alvin Benjamin Carter, Jr., a multi-percussionist, is a husband, father and minister of The Gospel and is a mainstay in the Greater Hartford arts community. Known as “Babafemi” to his friends, his involvement in the community is multifaceted. He works as an educator, organizer, performer, consultant, adviser, and motivator. He is an original “Artists Collective Baby,” having his artistic beginnings in drums, dance and acting at The Artists Collective. He later taught drums at “The Collective, as did his father, Alvin Carter, Sr. His diverse music experience includes but is not limited to jazz, R&B, blues, Latin jazz, gospel, and world beat. As a performer he has been the drummer with The Afro-Semitic Experience, The Kenny Hamber Show, The Crystal Blue Project, Don DePalma and Friends, Tony Harrington, and Touch, Charmagne, People of Goodwill, La Orquestra Espada, Edwin West and many, many others. He currently leads LEGACY: The Keepers of Tradition and The Alvin Carter Project. He has also been a lead drummer for Sankofa Kuumba Cultural Arts Consortium where he plays west Afrikan and afro-caribbean drums.

Guitarist and vocalist Orice Jenkins is a recording artist, performer, educator, and genealogy researcher from Hartford, Connecticut. His music has been featured in Jazz Times magazine and charted at #11 on the iTunes Jazz chart. Jenkins has performed extensively across all genres, including Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, Gospel, and Classical music. He serves as the Executive Director of Música Franklin, an afterschool music program for youth in Franklin County, Massachusetts.

Jenkins is also the author of Chesta’s Children, a genealogy blog that explores his deep stateside roots as a descendant of enslaved Americans. He ties his passions together in his lectures and historical presentations, commenting on the relationships between racism, culture, art, and family.

Saskia Laroo is a trumpet player who is hailed by American public and press at large as "Lady Miles of Europe", is one of the few women trumpet stylists, blowing for more than three decades. Born in Amsterdam, she began playing the trumpet at age 8, never dreaming of becoming a professional musician. That all changed when Saskia turned 18, after briefly majoring in Mathematics at the University of Amsterdam switched her focus to a career in music. She worked extensively in various groups from this point, primarily on upright bass, though eventually, on both bass and trumpet. Saskia Laroo combines today’s music by uncontrived romps into new styles, eagerly limned as "nu jazz" or "swinging’ body-music"--a vivacious blend of hip-hop, jazz, salsa, funk reggae, and world, that many other artists dare not venture. Her artistry and her groove ring vibrantly and free on her recordings journeying us through the music she has absorbed and plays from heart and soul.

Jocelyn Pleasant is a musician and educator, originally from Bloomfield, Connecticut. Her studies in percussion began at age 9 in her school band program, and then branched out to the Hartt School Community Division and the Artists Collective (Hartford, CT). She continued her studies in Washington, DC, as a Presidential Arts Scholar at The George Washington University from 2000-2004. Currently, Jocelyn is completing her work towards a PhD in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. As an educator, Jocelyn has been on staff with many schools and programs including the Artists Collective, Green Street Arts Center (Middletown, CT), Center for Creative Youth (Middletown, CT), Institute for the Musical Arts (Goshen, MA) and The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts (Hartford, CT), teaching theory, percussion, and African/Cultural Rhythms to students of all levels. Jocelyn's performance credits on drum set and percussion are extensive and showcase her versatility and ability to play many genres of music (jazz, blues, West African, funk, reggae, Latin, etc.). She is currently the percussionist for The Afro Semitic Experience and drummer for Orice Jenkins, both based in Connecticut. She also leads her own band, The Lost Tribe, which fuses traditional West African music and percussion with other styles of music.


Post-Mortem - Zeev ben Dor

We are also working to bring the Israeli artist Zeev ben Dor from Israel to take part in the event and to show his art in Toronto and other locations across the country. Zeev worked with another Israeli, Emanuel Rosenzweig to create a very powerful video about his art, which focuses on those killed by Hamas on October 7th. You can find the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcRVX3rYRRE&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fmercaz.ca%2F&source_ve_path=OTY3MTQ&feature=emb_imp_woyt

Masorti Canada - MERCAZ CANADA
55 Yeomans Road, Suite 201; Toronto, On ♦ M3H 3J7 ♦ 416-667-1717 ♦ 1-866-357-3384 ♦ E-Mail: info@masorti-mercaz.ca