Congregation Ohav Shalom

Building Community Celebrating Tradition

113 New Krumkill Road, Albany, NY 12208 / (518) 489-4706 / Email Us /


Posted on April 17, 2024

Albany, NY – As part of the capital district Jewish community’s annual Yom Ha Shoah commemoration, the Capital District Board of Rabbis and Cantors is pleased to present 25044, a one-act play written and performed by Russell Kaback, on Sunday, May 5, at 7:30 PM at Congregation Ohav Shalom. Enhanced security will be onsite for this event, and pre-registration is required. The play is a solo musical based on the life of Kaback’s grandfather Szyjek Magier, a Polish Jewish teenager who spent four years in the Nazi labor and concentration camps.

This moving musical drama is a tribute to life and hope. Presented in Russell’s theatrical storytelling style, the performance weaves together original songs which Russ accompanies on his guitar, characters, sound effects and gestures. The play, which is intended for audiences ages 13 and up, ties together personal interviews, testimonies, in-depth research and imagination, and reminds us that in the midst of fear, anguish, and pain, life still goes on, and, even then, hope can endure.

“It is fitting that Russ Kaback, who spent so much time in our shul while growing up, will be our featured guest to commemorate the Shoah this year,” said Rabbi Dan Ornstein of Ohav Shalom. “Many have noted that the traumatic events of October 7 mark the most vicious and widespread attacks upon Jews, simply for being Jews, since the Shoah. Therefore, it is even more critical to our Jewish community, that we gather together to remember. When done properly, revisiting our historic traumas can be an important part of healing.”

Russell Kaback (writer, composer, performer) is a musician and educator based in South Portland, Maine. He teaches in K-12 classrooms, and writes, produces and performs original music.  He received the 2016 Joel and Linda Abromson Award and the 2018 Maine Arts Commission Project Grant in support of bringing his musical story, based on his grandfather’s experience during the Holocaust, into schools in Maine. This work has been performed in venues in Maine and Massachusetts since 2014, at the PortFringe festival in Portland, and in his grandfather’s hometown of Bendzin, Poland in 2018.  In 2022 he began collaboration with master storyteller Antonio Rocha to create the one-man musical storytelling version of the show, titled “25044”.  The performance debuted in Turner, Maine in March 2023.

“I consider it an honor to share 25044 with the Albany community, especially at Ohav Shalom where I have spent so much time, and where my parents attend shul,” said Russ Kaback. “I am looking forward to being with so many familiar faces as we go relive my grandfather’s story and together experience what it takes to go from darkness to light. That’s so important now, as we commemorate Yom HaShoah while Jewish hostages remain in the hands of terrorists, and while we, as a people, are experiencing such a dramatic increase in antisemitism.” 

Enhanced security will be in place for the commemoration, which begins at 7:30 PM at Ohav Shalom, located at 113 New Krumkill Road, Albany, NY 12208. Those interested in attending may register at The event is free. Donations to support the commemoration and the cost of enhanced security are welcome. In addition to Russell Kaback’s performance, the Board of Rabbis and Cantors will offer prayers and lead some Yom Ha Shoah readings.

The Capital District Board of Rabbis and Cantors exists to promote the interests of Judaism, Israel, and the Jewish People, and to advance the religious and communal needs of Jewry in the Capital District; to serve as a voice of the Jewish religious community in the Capital District; to encourage and promote Rabbinic and Cantorial growth and development through continued and expanded opportunities for study and communal service; to strengthen the bonds of fellowship among its members; to provide and maintain a forum for the discussion and resolution of problems relating to Jewish life in the community; and, where appropriate, to provide a platform for collective action.

Congregation Ohav Shalom, led by Rabbi Dan Ornstein, is an inclusive, egalitarian synagogue that welcomes all those who wish to practice Judaism regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, ability, age, marital status, family/parental status, or socio-economic status. A Conservative/Egalitarian Synagogue affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Ohav Shalom embraces the values of Jewish tradition and respect for all people, and is known for being a friendly, welcoming place where people gather to pray, learn, laugh, share important life moments, celebrate and mourn together in a nurturing and supportive community. Ohav Shalom welcomes all people of the Jewish faith and their families, including people of diverse religious backgrounds, spiritual needs and personal circumstances. The synagogue is committed to enhancing Jewish life through learning, praying, and performing mitzvot as part of Tikkun Olam… repairing our world.