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SUMMER 2016 
Dear Friends of Zamir,

Summertime greetings! We're still catching our breath after the fabulous experience of performing Yehezkel Braun's music to packed houses at Brandeis University in early June. In a couple of weeks, we'll head out to the Catskills to perform at the North American Jewish Choral Festival and then take a little break before jumping in to our 48th season in the fall. Be sure to save the dates for next year's offerings, listed below. Also in this issue, Artistic Director Josh Jacobson, who just received an honorary degree from Hebrew College (see "Hot Off the Press"), reflects on the subject of assimilation and acculturation in Jewish music.

In each issue of E-Notes, Artistic Director Joshua Jacobson offers his unique insights and experiences as a world-renowned scholar, composer, conductor, and influential teacher of Jewish music.
Earlier this month I was thrilled Josh Jacobson to be presented with an honorary doctorate at Hebrew College's Commencement. My connection with the institution goes back more than 50 years, to my classes at the Prozdor High School; nine summers as a camper and counselor at Camp Yavneh; and, since 1992, training cantorial students at the School of Jewish Music.
I am grateful to my fellow honorees, Rabbi David Ellenson and Jane Eisner , for calling to my attention the commencement address given by Gerson Cohen at the College just 50 years ago. The controversial title of this address was "The Blessing of Assimilation in Jewish History." Rabbi Cohen made the case that Jewish culture has been enriched by its borrowings from the nations among which we have lived. He reminded us that many traditional Jewish names are actually borrowed from other nations, including Moses and Aaron (Egyptian) and Daniel (Babylonian). Jewish languages such as Yiddish and Ladino are based on those of our neighbors.
Many of our foundation myths, such as Noah and the Flood, are based on the mythology of other peoples. The Passover seder is modeled after a Greek symposium. The Haskalah movement was inspired by and modeled after the European Enlightenment. And the Jewish nationalistic movements of the late 19th century were motivated by contemporary political foment in Eastern Europe. Reform Judaism was in many respects modeled after Luther's reforms of Christianity. And the unique apparel worn by many ultra-Orthodox Jews today (pictured above) is an imitation of the sartorial styles of 18th-century Polish nobility.
It occurs to me that the music of the Jewish
Debbie Friedman
people has also been particularly enriched through its contact with foreign styles. Many traditional Ashkenazic synagogue melodies were based on German folk songs, including the High Holiday mode for the evening service, the High Holiday melody for "Aleynu," and the well-known melody for "Maoz Tsur."
(Click on the underlined titles to hear recorded examples.)
Joan Baez
The Chabad Hassidim intentionally "converted" secular melodies to devotional niggunim and synagogue tunes. The wedding dances of klezmer musicians are based on the traditional dances of Eastern Europe. The national anthem of the State of Israel is an adaptation of a Moldavian farmer's song, and a great deal of contemporary 
Israeli pop music bears the hallmarks of Greek and Arabic song. Two of the greatest contributors to late-20th-century synagogue song, Shlomo Carlebach and Debbie Friedman, were inspired by and modeled their melodies after the music of the 1960s American folk music revival movement.

"While 'assimilation' may convey the dangers of erosion and extinction, 'acculturation' bespeaks mutual enrichment and renewed vitality."
We find the same phenomenon in the arena of "classical" music. The early-17th-century composer Salamone Rossi wrote that he took the best ideas of Italian secular and sacred music and used them to enhance the synagogue liturgy. In the 19th century, Salomon Sulzer in Vienna and Louis Lewandowski in Berlin brought the sounds of Christian Europe into their synagogues, and many of their compositions are now considered traditional. At the turn of the 20th century, a group of young composers in St. Petersburg, Russia, were the first to fuse the concept of concert music with the words and music of the Jewish people. And their work in turn inspired composers such as Ernest Bloch, Leonard Bernstein , and Steve Reich to bring Jewish culture to the stage of Symphony Hall.
While "assimilation" may convey the dangers of erosion and extinction, "acculturation" bespeaks mutual enrichment and renewed vitality. The Zamir Chorale of Boston presents Jewish music in choral concerts--the very idea of a formal concert is a construct borrowed from our neighbors. But acculturation is a two-way street--we reach out to our choral neighbors and make them aware of our own musical gems. One of my greatest pleasures is when I see our repertoire being programmed by school and college chorales, community choruses, and even church choirs. I think Gerson Cohen would be pleased, as well.

Artistic Director Joshua R. Jacobson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Hebrew College at its 91st Commencement on June 6. Josh has long been affiliated with Hebrew College; he graduated from the Prozdor high school program in 1965, spent nine summers at Camp Yavneh, and for many years has been a visiting professor and senior consultant at the College's School of Jewish Music. Josh served briefly as the school's acting dean and was instrumental in developing the College's cantor-educator program. In 1994, Josh was awarded Hebrew College's Benjamin J. Shevach Award for distinguished achievement in Jewish educational leadership.
Honorary degrees were
From left to right: Rabbi David Ellenson, Diane Troderman, Josh Jacobson, Jane Eisner, Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, and Harold G. Kotler, chairman of the board of Hebrew College
also awarded to Rabbi David Ellenson, chancellor emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Diane Troderman, former chair of Jewish Education Service of North America; and Jane Eisner, Editor-in-Chief of The Forward.
In introducing Josh at the ceremony, Hebrew College's president, Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, said, "For his lifelong dedication to Jewish music, education and culture, we present Dr. Joshua Jacobson with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa." Mazel tov, Josh. The entire Zamir community is proud of you and wishes you well.


Zamir's website is undergoing a face lift! We hope to go live next week. Watch your email for details.

Sunday, July 10, evening, North American Jewish Choral Festival, Kerhonkson, NY: New Yorkers! If you're anywhere near the Catskills, be sure to attend this year's NAJCF. Zamir will perform on the opening night of the annual choral festival, now in its 27th year. Much gratitude, as always, to Mati Lazar, founder and director of the Zamir Choral Foundation, for inviting us back to this special gathering of choral musicians from all over the country. For details, visit the Zamir Choral Foundation. 
Monday, November 14, 7:30 pm,
"The Majesty of Hallel," Temple Shalom, 175 Temple St, Newton. This concert is a continuation of our "Divine Majesty" series.
Sunday, December 11, 4:00 pm, Concert at Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave, Belmont.
Sunday, December 18, 4:00 pm, "A Light Through the Ages," Hanukkah concert at Central Reform Temple, 15 Newbury St, Boston.
Sunday, March 19, 2017, 4:00 pm, "Psalmsensation," joint concert with Falmouth (Mass.) Chorale. 
Wednesday, June 14, 7:30 pm, "Awe-Psalm," spring concert Wednesday honoring board chair Robert Snyder, Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward St, Newton.
As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far.  Have a peaceful, healthy, and happy summer! 

Barbara Gaffin              Deborah Sosin
Managing Director         Editor, E-Notes