Dear Friends,

Warmest springtime wishes to you all! Even though the challenges of the pandemic life are easing, the devastation in Ukraine ripples painfully throughout the world. (If you’d like to help, consider supporting the Combined Jewish Philanthropies' Ukraine Emergency Fund.) We at Zamir are committed to raising our voices in song and to uplifting and soothing the spirit. Read here about a multitude of upcoming events as well as Josh Jacobson’s “Musing” on the power of music, specifically in selections from our special May 26 concert, “A Better World.”

Josh Jacobson's Musings


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.

Our Vision of a Better World

The power of music! Last September, after a year and a half of forced distancing, we came back together to re-create our community of harmony. We were awed by an experience we had been denied for far too long. And in December we performed our first concert in two years. It was an emotional experience for the performers as well as the audience.

And then—Omicron. We were forced to delay our resumption until February. But now we’re in the thick of rehearsals for our spring concert. Its theme, “A Better World,” couldn’t have come at a better time and the composers’ words have special poignancy. Randall Thompson, in The Peaceable Kingdom (inspired by this Edward Hicks painting, c. 1833, of the same name), reminds us of the words of Isaiah: “Woe unto the wicked…who call evil good and good evil…But say ye to the righteous…ye shall have a song.” Yehezkel Braun also quotes Isaiah (in Hebrew): “They shall beat their swords into plowshares.” Harold Arlen says, “When all the world is a hopeless jumble and the raindrops tumble all around…somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” And Benjie Ellen Schiller quotes the Book of Leviticus, saying, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land”; and Amos, who declared, “Justice shall flow down like water!”

According to Boston Globe columnist Jeneé Osterheldt, “When we think about activism and justice work, a medley of protest and policy and organizers comes to mind. Builders, thinkers, changemakers. But we can never forget the arts. The writers, the musicians, the photographers, the singers, and artists. They create both access and permission to be more, do more, and think differently. ‘The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is,’ [Gloria Jean Watkins] said. ‘It’s to imagine what is possible.’’’

Each week we confront the sorrowful headlines with our harmony of hope. Most of us are not doctors on the front line of the pandemic nor soldiers defending the Ukrainians. The best we can do is bring a little beauty into the world, a vision of a better world.

Upcoming Events

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Online Series: A Choral Rainbow, Part III, Monday, April 4, 7:30 pm

Register and donate here.

This third and final installment of our free online series will spotlight three choruses and their conductors:

  • The award-winning Chorosynthesis Singers, a professional, Syracuse-based 12-voice choir, which involves world-class performers and composers in the creation and performance of music that connects the art with community, specifically through the lens of social consciousness; Wendy Moy, founder and co-artistic director.
  • Nashirah, a community-based chorale in the Greater Philadelphia area, whose musical programming embodies the broadest possible range of Jewish repertoire, bringing together choral music of many lands, languages, and cultures. The group’s artistic director and conductor is Julia Zavadsky, who was born in Kyiv and left her home at the age of 19. Dr. Zavadsky lived and studied in Israel before immigrating to the United States.
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  • Voices 21C, a Boston-based choral artists’ collective that seeks to combine technical proficiency with creativity and compassion and to connect its musical messages to social justice issues, centering on the voices of the silenced, the forgotten, and the marginalized; André de Quadros, artistic director.

A Choral Rainbow was developed in response to the alarming rise in all forms of prejudice. The series has featured video performances and conversations with the conductors of choruses from diverse and under-represented communities.

We were thrilled with the global turnout for parts I (watch here) and II (watch here) and are grateful to the Newton Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for their financial support.


Shirah B’Yachad: Singing Together! A Concert Celebrating Cantor Louise Treitman

For tickets and tributes, visit Hebrew College.

Tuesday, April 5, 7:30 pm, Temple Reyim, 1860 Washington St, Newton: Hebrew College (HC) is presenting this special concert honoring Zamir member Cantor Treitman and marking the occasion of the College’s 100th anniversary. The event will feature Zamir and Kol Arev, HC's chamber choir, founded and directed by Amy Lieberman. Kol Arev's members include cantorial and rabbinical students and other members of HC’s community.


A Better World

Thursday, May 26, 7:30 pm, Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward St, Newton: A special concert to honor Larry and Jill Sandberg, featuring Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom and the American premiere of Yehezkel Braun’s Vehaya Be’akharit Ha-yamim (In Days to Come). Tickets are available for in-person attendance and online viewing. For details, visit zamir.org.

In Other News...

Josh on the Air

Artistic Director Josh Jacobson was featured in two recent online programs:

On Friday, March 11, Boston-based Jewish Arts Collaborative’s “JArts Presents JLive” aired a lively discussion between Josh and Executive Director Laura Mandel. They explored Josh’s musical roots at Camp Yavneh, his early career and influences, and Zamir’s artistic mission. The program also featured timely musical clips, including Noa and Awad’s “There Must Be Another Way,” and Janowski’s “Sim Shalom.” View the video here.

On Wednesday, March 16, Josh participated in a panel discussion sponsored by Emmanuel Church in Boston about the history and issues of antisemitism in Bach’s St. John Passion, prior to Emmanuel Music's March 26 performance. The video will be posted here.

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Grant from the City of Newton

Zamir is deeply grateful to Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and the City of Newton for funding through the Revitalize Creative Newton grant program. The purpose of the grant is to support cultural organizations providing arts and cultural programming in Newton. Pictured with Mayor Fuller are representatives from grant recipients (including Barbara Gaffin, Zamir's Managing Director; and Gilbert Schiffer, Zamir's board chair).

Keep in touch! We love hearing from our friends all over the world. Be safe and well!

Chag Pesach Sameach!

Barbara Gaffin

Managing Director

Debbie Sosin


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