Dear Friends,

Summertime greetings! After a joyful return to in-person performing this spring, we are on hiatus from singing together until September. But we are busy planning events for the 2022-23 season, including celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Salamone Rossi's “Ha-shirim Asher Lishlomo,” the subject of this issue’s “Musing” by Josh Jacobson. Speaking of Rossi, read about a brand-new website devoted entirely to his life and music! And enjoy a roundup of our recent concerts, including photos from the gala “A Better World” tribute to Larry and Jill Sandberg at Temple Emanuel in May.

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.

Salamone Rossi was my hero! I was a teenager when I first heard about this relatively unknown musician who worked at the Gonzaga Palace in Mantua at the turn of the 17th century. Among his colleagues were some of the greatest composers of the day, including Claudio Monteverdi and Giovanni Gastoldi. Like them, Rossi composed charming madrigals, lively music for dancing, and innovative trio sonatas. There had been Jewish musicians at the court in the past, but none with the stature of Salamone Rossi Hebreo. And 400 years ago, in October 1622, Rossi became the first composer to publish choral music for the synagogue—Hebrew sacred music in the style of Italian secular and church music.

I loved the fact that Rossi could inhabit both worlds. He was recognized and employed as a first-rate musician, but he did not turn his back on his Jewish community. Many Jews of the time, such as Guglielmo Ebreo da Pesaro, had converted to Christianity in order to further their careers. But not Rossi. He was able to synthesize his two worlds to the detriment of neither.

Throughout the coming season, Zamir will be celebrating this great composer and his path-breaking collection of Hebrew motets for the synagogue, published on the first day of Cheshvan 5383, which corresponds to October 5, 1622, on the Jewish calendar. We have set up a website https://www.jewishchoralmusic.com/rossi where you can discover this music and delve into the rich culture that produced it. You will meet some fascinating characters, including Rossi’s friend, the fascinating and controversial polymath Rabbi Leon Modena, defender of music, author, teacher, cantor, compulsive gambler, and alchemist; Sarra Copia Sulam, poetess, philosopher, salon hostess; and Madama Europa, Salamone Rossi’s sister and renowned opera singer. We have video presentations by Prof. Benjamin Ravid on the first ghetto, created in Venice in 1516; Prof. Barbara Wisch on the unique clothing (often enforced) of the Italian Jews of the period; Prof. Howard Adelman on Rossi’s controversial friend, Rabbi Leon Modena; and much more.

On the 400th anniversary of "Ha-shirim’s” publication, the first day of Cheshvan, we will present a special YouTube Premiere celebration of Rossi’s music and the culture that spawned it. And our spring 2023 concert will pay tribute to 400 years of Italian Jewish music. We hope you will join us in our celebrations—online and/or in person. Grazie!

Upcoming Events

Temple Reyim Turns 70: On Sunday, October 23, Zamir will perform as a part of Temple Reyim’s 70th-anniversary celebrations. Stay tuned for details as they are available.

Happy Anniversary, Salamone! On Wednesday, October 26, in conjunction with the Jewish date of the publication of Rossi’s “Ha-shirim Asher Lishlomo,”  ראש חודש חשוון, we will present a special YouTube Premiere program with narration, music, and excerpts from Josh Jacobson’s interviews with scholars in the field. Watch your email for details.

Hallelujah! Hanukkah Happens: On Thursday, December 22, we will present our annual holiday concert at Temple Emanuel in Newton, with the theme of “Hallelujah,” including works by Salamone Rossi, Louis Lewandowski, Benjie Ellen Schiller, and George Frideric Handel, and featuring soloist Cantor Elias Rosemberg.

Italia in the Springtime: Plans are underway for our spring concert (date and venue TBD), featuring 400 years of Jewish music in Italy. More details to come in the fall

Spring Roundup

Church on the Hill: On June 16, our chamber chorus performed at the Church on the Hill in Boston, where our own assistant conductor, Andrew Mattfeld, is the music director. The program included “Halleluyah,” by Salamone Rossi; “Oseh Shalom,” by Cantor Jeff Klepper; and “The Lord Bless You,” by John Rutter.  

JJ applauds Sandbergs

A Better World: On May 26, an enthusiastic audience, in person at Temple Emanuel and online, enjoyed a fabulous evening of uplifting music and heartfelt tributes to honorees Larry and Jill Sandberg. Musical selections included Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom and the American premiere of Yehezkel Braun’s Vehaya Be’akharit Ha-yamim (In Days to Come), as well as works by Irving Berlin, Nick Page, and Benjie Ellen Schiller.

Former Zamirniks and dear friends of the Sandbergs, Drs. Francene and Rav-Hazzan Scott Sokol, offered loving and entertaining reflections on the many contributions that Larry and Jill have made to the Zamir community. The honorees themselves talked about their own deep relationship with Zamir (where they met!) and treated the audience to a special encore duet, “Aval Ahava,” by Noa.                    

After viewing a video montage produced by Rob Cooper, attendees enjoyed a lively reception under a tent outdoors, where Larry and Jill were presented with a special teddy bear to add to their collection. Then Zamirnik friends offered a fun spoof song to the tune of “Tumbalalaika,” and Larry was invited to conduct the entire gathering in a spirited rendition of Rossi’s “Halleluyah.” Thanks again, Sandbergs, for all you do for our Zamir family!

Photos by Mickey Goldin (More photos available on Zamir.org after July 1.)

Voices of Humanity

Voices of Humanity at the Vilna Shul: On May 15, Zamir participated in the “Voices of Humanity” concert at Boston’s Vilna Shul, a concert featuring three interfaith choirs singing music from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions. Along with Zamir were VOICES 21C, a diverse choir dedicated to positive interactions, social justice, and global understanding; and the Boston Community Gospel Choir, an all-volunteer, multicultural, intergenerational, multi-denominational group comprised of singers from the Greater Boston area. The program concluded with all performers gathering to lead the audience in singing Bill Withers’s inspirational song “Lean on Me.”

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

On April 5, Hebrew College presented a special concert honoring Zamir member Cantor Treitman and marking the College’s 100th anniversary. Zamir was joined by Kol Arev, HC's chamber choir, founded and directed by Amy Lieberman. The program included Kurt Weill’s “Kiddush,” with Zamir alumna Cantor Jessica Silverberg, soloist; and Ernest Bloch’s “Kedushah,” with Zamir alumnus Cantor Rick Lawrence as soloist.

A Choral Rainbow, Part III: On April 4, we presented the third and final installment of our online series spotlighting three choruses from diverse backgrounds, including the Chorosynthesis Singers, a professional, Syracuse-based 12-voice choir founded and co-directed by Wendy Moy; Nashirah, a community-based chorale in the Greater Philadelphia area, directed by Julia Zavadsky; and Voices 21C, a Boston-based choral artists’ collective directed by André de Quadros (pictured).

A Choral Rainbow was developed in response to the alarming rise in all forms of prejudice. The series featured video performances and conversations with the conductors of choruses from diverse and under-represented communities. You may watch the entire series here. We are grateful to the Newton Cultural Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for their financial support.

In Other News...

Audition for Zamir!


Zamir will hold auditions for all voice parts, tentatively set for Sunday, September 18, 7:00 to 9:00 pm, at a location to be determined. Auditions are by appointment only and must be scheduled in advance by emailing manager@zamir.org. Be sure to watch your email for details! 

You'll need to provide your voice part, proof of full COVID vaccination (scanned copy of card), and the best phone number to reach you.


Candidates should have excellent vocal quality, the ability to sight-read music, and previous choral experience. Rehearsals are generally held on Tuesdays at Temple Reyim, from 7:15 to 10:00 pm, from September through early June. 

Congratulations to Madeline Lemberg, Conducting Intern

Zamir’s Conducting Intern Madeline Lemberg has been accepted to Indiana University’s master’s program in choral conducting, beginning this fall. We are grateful for her wonderful contributions to Zamir. We are confident she will do great things in the world of music. Mazal tov, Madeline!

Stay safe and well this summer and be sure to keep in touch! We look forward to seeing you in the fall.

Barbara Gaffin

Managing Director

Debbie Sosin


Facebook  Twitter  Instagram