What is the most important thing that you would like the Greater Washington Jewish Community to know about you and/or your venture?
There has been insufficient collaboration between songwriters and cantors, particularly around the creation of new musical forms for contemporary synagogue worship.
Kesher Shir will bring together musicians and clergy from different backgrounds to study, compose, build relationships, and challenge the status quo, in order to foster lasting musical change in communal prayer. Ultimately, by empowering our musical leaders, the entire Jewish community will benefit, because they will receive the kind of meaningful music they deserve. The members of the Kesher Shir Project will emerge equipped with a fuller tool-belt of Jewish musical styles and forms to offer to their communities, as well as new musical compositions created in a vibrant, diverse, contemporary environment.
The success of Kesher Shir is its small cohort model: a group of 8 or 10 individuals, organized by city or nationally, creating a community of meaning through group work and composition in pairs in multiple short retreats over 2 years.
My life’s work is focused on using Jewish music as a vehicle for engagement in worship and community. Training the Reform Movement’s young song leaders, as well as learning from and working with the creative worship voices within our movement, has given me a clear vision for a synthesis of congregational worship and contemporary Jewish composition. I have always felt uniquely positioned to bring cantors and singer-songwriters closer together, all for the sake of exciting, inspiring, and deeply meaningful worship – inside and outside the synagogue walls.
Where will your venture be in a year?
By this time next year, we will have selected the members of a cohort in two cities and the schedule for their two and half years of programming will be set and curriculum prepared. The project teams will begin Fall of 2013. The resources will be in place to create meaningful meeting opportunities and appropriate staffing and leadership to allow these new Jewish musical relationships to begin to flourish.
What change do you hope to make in your community?
I hope to make change in the larger Jewish musical community primarily. I hope to bring cantors and singer-songwriters closer together, all for the sake of exciting, inspiring and deeply meaningful worship – inside and outside the synagogue walls. In Washington, DC, as in other cities, I hope to create meaningful connections and relationships across denominational boundaries, using the diverse musicians in our community to create a sense of collegiality and unity which would give our community a sense of deeper connection and purpose.
What is the biggest challenge facing our community today?
The biggest challenge facing our community is how to create meaningful points of entry for our diverse Jewish community into Jewish life. At every age and stage we search for meaning and purpose in different venues and through different experiences. Often, many in our community remain fearful of tearing down walls, and of partnering with others from whom we can learn and grow. There are wonderful people in the Jewish community, and we should try to find opportunities to bring together resources, of treasure and individuals, to work together to strengthen and deepen the possibilities for all members of our community. We should avoid these silos and divisions by searching for common vision and inspire people around select universal values.