‘To sing is to belong’

Registration is open for the annual North American Jewish Choral Festival to be held in July.

Participants at the North American Jewish Choral Festival. Credit: Courtesy of the Zamir Choral Foundation.
Participants at the North American Jewish Choral Festival. Credit: Courtesy of the Zamir Choral Foundation.

Each summer, the North American Jewish Choral Festival (NAJCF) brings together hundreds of singers from across the country to enjoy five days of a life-changing musical experience, share their love of Jewish choral music, and feel a sense of pride and belonging. The 35th annual event will be held from July 14 to 18, in Westchester County, N.Y.

“As we continue to face challenging times, NAJCF gives us something to sing about,” says Matthew Lazar, the festival’s founder and director. “It serves as a creative outlet to express solidarity and support, and to celebrate Jewish heritage.”

Festival participants of all ages and singing levels enjoy a variety of uplifting Jewish musical experiences led by renowned conductors creating a melodic tapestry of contemporary, folk, classical and traditional music. The program includes daily community sings; workshops and seminars on a wide range of topics; and evening concerts featuring guest choirs and outstanding performers.

Master teacher and internationally acclaimed choral conductor Eleanor Epstein will give a special presentation “To Sing Is to Belong: The Power of the Communal Voice” in tribute to noted composer Alice Parker with whom she studied extensively. Epstein will discuss how the evocative music of the Jewish people is a powerful force for building understanding and connection.

Josh Shron, cantor, Israeli music expert and radio personality, will explore the healing power of music in an excerpt from his moving and inspiring program “A Musical Hug From Israel.” His presentation is designed to help English speakers connect to the range of emotions felt in Israel and around the world, through a look at the meaningful songs released after Oct. 7. 

Each year, the festival presents the Hallel V’Zimrah Award to honor individuals who have made important contributions to the world of Jewish music. This year’s honoree is Jack Mendelson, world-renowned cantor and international performer, who is being recognized for his artistry as well as his devotion to the choral music of the synagogue.

The unique experience of the North American Jewish Choral Festival is summed up by Barry Brian of California, “The festival represents my five favorite days of the year. I connect to my Jewish heritage through music and form an emotional bond with hundreds of people to create glorious sound.”

Program fees for the five-day Jewish Choral Festival including kosher meals are $1295. People up to age 35 can participate for a discounted price of $900, including hotel accommodation. The North American Jewish Choral Festival is a program of the Zamir Choral Foundation.

To register for this year’s festival, go to North American Jewish Choral Festival – Zamir .  For more information, visit zamirchoralfoundation.org.

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The Zamir Choral Foundation, created by Matthew Lazar, promotes choral music as a vehicle to inspire Jewish life, literacy and community. The foundation’s programs include the North American Jewish Choral Festival; HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir; the acclaimed Zamir Chorale; Zamir Noded for young adult singers; Zamir Conducting Fellows to train the next generation of Jewish choral conductors; and the HaZamir Preparatory Program for middle-school singers. Matthew Lazar, founder and director of the Zamir Choral Foundation, is the leading force of the Jewish choral movement in the U.S. He has worked with Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Elie Wiesel, Theodore Bikel, Dr. Ruth Westheimer and others. The Zamir Choral Foundation is guided by an expansive vision of vibrant Jewish identity across the generational, denominational and political continuums through the study and performance of Jewish music at the highest level of excellence. For more information, visit www.zamirchoralfoundation.org
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