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Going Once, Going Twice, Going Online!
Items needed for Zamir's online spring auction:
March 12-23, 2012 
The Zamir Chorale of Boston will kick off its first Spring Online Auction, March 12-23, and needs your help in spreading the word, donating items, and buying something for yourself, family, or friends! 

What makes this event so powerful is that its reach is virtually unlimited ... we expect all of our visitors to spread the word about this event using email as well as word of mouth! Zamir  will be using online software from cMarket, Inc., a Cambridge, MA, organization focused on supporting non-profit organizations.  

If you have access to tickets for shows, sports event, vacation homes, hotel/restaurant/retail store gift certificates, let us know! Your donated item is tax-deductible. We also need volunteers to help us solicit items and make follow-up calls. 

To donate or to volunteer, contact: 
YouTube Features
Watch the

Zamir Chorale of Boston's

 Berlin performances and photo montage!   

Kafe BeKef
"Kafe BeKef"

Zamir: Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss at the Jewish Museum Berlin.mov
Zamir: "Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss" at the Jewish Museum Berlin.mov

Berlin tour images
Berlin tour images


Send Us Your "Zamilestones"

Zamir's Alumni Association, chaired by Alan Teperow

(1969-73ish), is dedicated to reaching out to alumni, raising funds for the chorus, bringing alums together for music and socializing, and generally keeping the Zamir spark alive for hundreds of former singers. 


The Association has sponsored Boston-area gatherings, has established a Facebook presence, is developing a website page with a robust alumni directory, and has created a NY/NJ alumni group chaired by Ruth Birnbaum Pernick and Sara Ruderman.


Please send your personal and professional updates (simchas, achievements, condolences) to Ronda Jacobson and stay tuned for the launch of "Zamilestones."

 WINTER 2012  

Dear Friends of Zamir,      

Warmest greetings for the new year! In this issue of E-Notes, we are thrilled to bring you reports and reflections from our recent trip to Berlin, where Zamir participated in the first Louis Lewandowski Festival from December 15 to 18. So grab a cup of coffee or hot cocoa and enjoy the essays, blogs, videos, and photo albums that will make you feel as if you were there. And be sure to check out the schedule for our upcoming concerts in New England and New York.


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. Here, Josh shares his reflections on Zamir's recent tour to Berlin. A version of this essay appeared in Boston's Jewish Advocate.


I don't believe in ghosts. But when Zamir was in Berlin last month, I had the eerie sensation that we were channeling the spirits of Germany's departed Jewish musicians.

Josh and Berline Bear
Josh Jacobson and the Berlin mascot


The Louis Lewandowski Festival committee had invited us to come to Berlin and represent the United States at their upcoming celebration of the life and work of the greatest 19th-century composer of synagogue music. I had a feeling we would be interested, but I was unprepared for the enthusiasm with which the members of Zamir responded to the invitation. Thirty-five singers (along with a handful of spouses and partners) were eager to travel and pay for a rather expensive flight. But none of us could have anticipated for the amazing experience that was about to unfold and change our lives.


The festival was organized and underwritten by Mr. Nils Busch-Petersen, an influential philo-Semitic Berlin lawyer, who has served as District Mayor of Berlin-Pankow, chief executive of the National Association of Medium-and Large-scale Retail, and Managing Director of the Berlin-Lewandowski Festival PosterBrandenburg Trade Association. He is also CEO of the Friends of the Berlin Synagogal Ensemble, and author of four books about German-Jewish merchants. Busch-Petersen spared no expense in planning this festival; there were huge billboards advertising the festival all over Berlin, and the choirs were treated like visiting royalty. I never got the chance to ask Nils how or why he, a non-Jew, became such an enthusiastic supporter of Jewish culture in Berlin. But his actions seemed to reflect the prevailing attitudes in today's Berlin.


Our first concert took place at the Krankenhauskirche in

Deb West and Susan Rubin with roses in Berlin
Sopranos Deborah West and Susan Rubin at the Krankenhauskirche with gift of roses.

Wuhlgarten, a neighborhood of East Berlin, and a 75-minute bus ride from our hotel. United Berlin is a huge city! The Krankenhauskirche turned out to be a former church turned concert hall on the grounds of a former hospital. This beautiful building had been decorated with both a Christmas tree and a Chanukah menorah. The acoustics were gorgeous (unfortunately they don't seem to make them like that in America anymore), and the capacity audience could not have been more enthusiastic. This non-Jewish audience loved our program of Jewish music. They also appreciated the fact that I was delivering my oral program notes in German. After the concert, the organizers handed a beautiful red rose to each member of the choir.


Our repertoire was essentially devoted to the music of Jewish composers from Germany. The focus, of course, was Louis Lewandowski (1821-1894), the choirmaster who created the most majestic music for the synagogues of Berlin, and whose melodies are still sung today by Jews around the world (think of the tunes for Friday night Kiddush and "Tsaddik Katamar Yifrach"). But we also programmed music by several German-Jewish composers who immigrated to the United States after the Nazis came to power in 1933. Heinrich

Louis Lewandowski

Schalit had been the music director at the Hauptsynagoge in Munich. Shlomo Carlebach was born in Berlin and came to New York in 1939. Kurt Weill, best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertold Brecht, was also the son of Albert Weill, the Chief Cantor of Dessau. Max Janowski was born in Berlin, but in the early 1930s moved to Tokyo, where he served as head of the piano department at the Musashino Academy of Music for seven years before immigrating to the United States.


I had a special connection to the composer Herbert Fromm, who had been opera conductor in Bielefeld and Wurzburg, and later an active participant of the Jüdischer Kulturbund in Frankfurt, an apartheid cultural organization invented by the Nazis. When I was a college student, Fromm was serving as Music Director at Boston's Temple Israel, a post he held from 1941 until 1972. Fromm kindly served as my extramural thesis advisor, as well as a general mentor and role model in the field of Jewish music. It was now time for me to repay Dr. Fromm for his kindness, and I added his beautiful setting of Psalm 23 to our Berlin programs. During the performance, I could swear I felt his spectral presence in the room.


Chorus members in Berlin
Pictured left to right: Steve Ebstein, Rich Lustig, Deb West, Joel Caplan, Michael Kronenberg

After the concert Thursday night, we had a chance to meet the singers from the other choirs. There were more than 200 of us--from Boston, Toronto, Johannesburg, Jerusalem, London, Zurich, Strasbourg, and Berlin. We spoke different languages and hailed from four different continents, but we shared a common passion--performing choral music from Jewish traditions. We established special connections with the Zemel Choir of London and the Polyphonies Hébraïques de Strasbourg (which turns out to be Boston's sister city), and promised to arrange exchange concerts in the near future.  


Lewandowski grave
Lewandowski grave:
Love makes the melody immortal

On Friday, we were all treated to a tour of Berlin; and then an emotional visit to the Jewish cemetery, where we sang at the grave of Louis Lewandowski. Lewandowski's children chose an apt epitaph for the composer's monument: "Liebe macht das Lied unsterblich" (Love makes the melody immortal). Friday night services at the Pestalozzistrasse synagogue were enhanced by the beautiful singing of Cantor Isaac Sheffer and the resident choir, the Berlin Synagogal Ensemble. After services, the choirs convened again at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for a festive Shabbat dinner, with excellent food and wine, and hours of singing, line-dancing, and border-busting camaraderie.


Shabbat was appropriately a day off. Several of us walked down the street to the Joachimstalerstrasse synagogue. Most of the regulars at this Orthodox synagogue are emigres from Poland and Russia, with a handful of Israeli ex-pats. The Jerusalem Cantors Choir had been invited to lead the morning services, and they presented quite an impressive musical davening that had us in shul from 9:30 in the morning until 1:30 in the afternoon.


On Saturday night, we hopped back

Jewish Museum Berlin
The Jewish Museum in Berlin 

on the bus for our next concert at the Jewish Museum.This striking new building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, has become one of Berlin's most popular attractions. Our concert was in the beautiful new glass courtyard. The Museum had asked us to include some music for Chanukah, which was just three days away, so we added a few holiday songs from Italy, Serbia, and England.


After the concert, an unbelievable surprise awaited us. All the choirs were bussed to the Television Tower, Berlin's tallest building. The Festival organizers had rented the entire   

Pictures of Television Tower (Fernsehturm), Berlin 
This photo of the Television Tower (Fernsehturm) is courtesy of TripAdvisor 

TV Tower building for our pleasure. We were whisked up 669 feet in 40 seconds to the visitors' platform and the revolving restaurant, where we were again feted with a sumptuous kosher buffet, as well as stupendous panoramic views of the city.


Sunday morning was a time for learning: the festival participants were treated to their choice of eight lectures on topics relating to Louis Lewandowski and the music of the Jews of Berlin. The teachers were Prof. Dr. Tina Frühauf of Columbia University, Dr. Russel Lurie of Johannesburg, Cantor Binyamin Glickman of Jerusalem, Cantor Prof. Josée Wolff of the Hebrew Union College in New York, Prof. Dr. Eli Schleifer of the Hebrew Union College Jerusalem, and myself.


The final and main event of the festival took place on Sunday night, a program featuring all eight choirs, singing individually and together. The concert was held at Berlin's largest synagogue, the recently restored Rykestrasse Synagogue, a stunning neo-Romanesque building. It was interesting to hear a variety of interpretations of Lewandowski's music. Zamir performed his tender setting of "Enosh kechotsir yomov" from the Yizkor memorial service; and the majestic "Ewiger, an den Himmel reicht deine Huld," from the composer's collection of Eighteen Liturgical Psalms in German.Our performance was greeted with the most sustained applause of the evening.  I was tremendously proud of our singers' excellent level of artistry, and touched by the unfailing enthusiasm with which we were received.


Zamir in Berlin
Zamir at the Rykestrasse Synagogue

But the climax of the evening was surely the moment when nearly 300 singers joined forces for the grand finale, Lewandowski's majestic "Adon Olom."


Jewish life in Berlin today is experiencing a renaissance. The Jewish population, 160,000 at its pre-war peak, and virtually empty after the war, has begun to grow again. There are now 25,000 Jews in Berlin, as well as synagogues, kosher shops, schools, and a new seminary that trains rabbis and cantors. Of all the European countries, Germany may be Israel's most supportive ally today, and the strongest combatant of antisemitism. And if the Lewandowski Festival is any indication, the people of Berlin, Jews and Gentiles, greatly appreciate the historic Jewish contribution to German culture. The singers in Zamir felt a tremendous satisfaction in having lent a hand, and a voice, to the revival of Jewish life in Berlin. We really could feel the presence of the grateful ghosts of German Jewry past.


Note: The Louis Lewandowski Festival was offered under the auspices of Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor of Berlin; and Lala Süßkind, President of the Jewish Community of Berlin. Participating choirs included the Synagogenchor of Zürich, the Jerusalem Cantors' Choir, the Synagogal Ensemble of Berlin, the Johannesburg Jewish Male Choir, the Toronto Jewish Male Choir, the Zemel Choir (England), and Les Polyphonies Hébraïques of Strasbourg (France). Zamir's participation in the festival was funded in part by an anonymous donor and the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Boston. 



Before the tour, several Zamirniks agreed to record their experiences for posterity--and the result is a wonderfully lively mix of voices and impressions. Hinda Eisen, alto, and assistant to the conductor, captures the trip from a deeply spiritual and musicological point of view. Bass Rich Lustig's fascinating blog brings us along on a tour of Berlin, its history and culture.  

Alto Judy Pike's delightful entries take us inside the Zamir Tour experience--what it's like to travel and perform with a group of friends and fellow musicians. And enjoy tenor Steve Ebstein's entries, which include an essay about his family's emigration from pre-war Germany and Steve's impressions of Berlin today.

Berlin group
Zamir chorus members, staff, and accompanying spouses at the
Rykestrasse Synagogue

Thursday, February 16, 2012, 3:30 pm: Zamir is honored to be performing excerpts from our "Middle East Harmonies" program for a demonstration session at this year's annual ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) Convention at the Convention Center in Providence, Rhode Island.

Sunday, March 11, 3:00 pm: Joint concert with the Trinity Church choir at Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston. Ticket information will be available in February at the church's website.

Sunday, April 22, 3:00 pm: We'll be packing our bags for a day trip to Congregation Adath Yeshurun, in Syracuse, NY, where we'll perform a concert featuring selections from the Berlin tour repertoire, Middle East Harmonies, and Zamir classics. Stay tuned for more information.

Thursday, May 17, 7:30 pm: Zamir participates in a unique program presented by Hebrew College's School of Jewish Music: "The Ten Greatest Composers of Jewish Music." More information will be available at Hebrew College's website, www.hebrewcollege.edu.

Sunday May 20, 4:00 pm: Zamir pays a return visit to Congregation Mishkan Israel, in Hamden, CT, for a concert featuring a smorgasbord of this season's repertoire, along with old favorites.
Sunday, June 3, 7:30 pm, and Monday, June 4, 8:00 pm, Slosberg Recital Hall, Brandeis University: "From Boston to Berlin," featuring music from Zamir's concert tour to Berlin, including music of German- Jewish composers from the synagogue to the cabaret stage.


Sephardic Melodies Resound at  

Hanukkah Happens XXII  

For the 22nd year, Zamir was
Elias Rosemberg and Zamir at HH 2011
Cantor Elias Rosemberg singing with
Zamir at Temple Emanuel's
Hanukkah Happens.
Photo by Judy Bornstein
honored to perform Hanukkah Happens on December 22 at
Temple Emanuel in Newton. The program included romantic and rousing solos, duets, and choral works from the Sephardic literature, both modern and classic.

The evening's highlights included Yehezkel Braun's "Seven Sephardic Romances," Flory Jagoda's "Hamisha Asar" and "Ocho Kandelikas," along with "Amen Shem Nora" and "Yom Zeh LeYisrael/Yismach Moshe." Cantors Elias Rosemberg and Elise Barber delighted the audience with a separate set, including Hazzan Rosemberg's passionate rendition of "Adio Querida" and Hazzan Barber's impressive interpretation of "La Comida La Manana."  


The assembled singers were accompanied by Edwin Swanborn and Eugenia Gerstein, piano; Tev Stevig, guitar and oud; Taki Masuko, percussion; Jessica Lizak, flute; Bruce Creditor, clarinet; and Chris Rathbun, bass. Josh's new arrangements of "Adon Haselikhot" and the encore "Lecha Dodi" rounded out the uplifting concert, which  was followed by a lovely dessert reception. 


Thanks to concert co-chairs Alan J. Nissenbaum, Joyce Bohnen, and Adam Weitzman for organizing Zamir's favorite annual gig, and to the Temple Emanuel Brotherhood for their enthusiastic support! And, of course, our deepest thanks to the inimitable Hazzan Rosemberg, our collaborator, and star of the show.   


"Open" Singers Join LimmudBoston Festivities  

Open Sing2011 Ronda, JJ, Steffi
Ronda Jacobson, Josh Jacobson, and Steffi Karp, LimmudBoston Chair

On December 4, Zamir hosted the Sixth Annual Open Sing at Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill. This year, the Open Sing was held in conjunction with LimmudBoston, an annual celebration of Jewish learning and culture. In addition to the now-traditional choruses from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus, the approximately 300 participants sang through a selection of 19th-century synagogue choral classics, with soloists Cantors Aryeh Finkelstein, Elias Rosemberg, Randall Schloss, and Scott Sokol. Special thanks to Phyllis Hammer for underwriting the annual Sing. 

Goethe-Institut Hosts Chamber Concert

On November 10, the Zamir

Goethe 2011
Zamir Chamber Chorus performs at the Goethe Institut.
Photo by Mickey Goldin 

Chamber Chorus performed at the Goethe-Institut in Boston. The concert was presented in appreciation of our generous donors who donated $360 or more to Zamir's fall fundraising campaign and served as an appetizer to the Berlin tour, including several selections by composer Louis Lewandowski. Guest speakers included German Consul General Friedrich Löhr and Professor Ralph Selig, international authority on German-Jewish chazzanut (liturgical music).


As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2012!

Barbara Gaffin 

Managing Director



Deborah Sosin

Editor, E-Notes