A coffeehouse without a screeching espresso machine? Sans cigarette smoke and incessant chatter? Could it be? It is, in a suburban Kendall neighborhood where a house doubles as Temple Beth Or, the main sanctuary of which is transformed every other month into the concert venue Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse. Launched in the fall of 1997 by graphic designer and musician Ellen Bukstel Segal, friend Gerald Weissfeld, and Rabbi Rami Shapiro, the Coffeehouse has staged a who's who of folkies (Rod MacDonald, Magda Hiller, Marianne Flemming, Grant Livingston, Amy Carol Webb, Mindy Simmons, Marie Nofsinger, Ron and Bari, James London) picking and crooning in front of appreciative crowds numbering close to 150. An evening at Sacred Grounds opens with a one-hour open-mike segment followed by two acts performing brief sets before the crowd breaks for refreshments and mingling. The finale features artists and musical audience members engaging in a good-natured song swap. The ten-dollar door charge is divided between the featured entertainers and a different charity each show, a spiritual gesture suited to a relaxed night of entertainment in an atmosphere of warmth, joy, and contemplation.
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