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Audition for Zamir!
Sunday, September 22, 
7:00 - 9:30 pm
Hebrew College, Newton


Auditions are by appointment only and must be scheduled in advance by emailing 



In addition to the audition, candidates are required to attend open rehearsals at Hebrew College on Tuesday, September 10, and Tuesday, September 17, 

7:15 - 10:00 pm


Candidates must have excellent vocal quality, the ability to sight-read music, and previous choral experience.


For more information, visit


Judy Pike Elected Chorus President 

We are delighted to announce that Judy Pike, Zamir alto since 2010, has been elected to serve as president of the chorus. Elana Rome, soprano, will serve as vice president. Leadership of the chorus is a volunteer undertaking and involves countless hours of organizing, attending board and staff meetings, decision making, and, most important, communicating the needs and concerns of the choir to the artistic director.


Judy Pike
Newly elected Zamir Chorale of Boston chorus president, Judy Pike

Judy has served in leadership positions before, including two years as chair of the board of trustees of Temple Aliyah (Needham), four years as a vice president of Temple Aliyah, and three years as president of a women's business networking group. A current Zamir board member, Judy is an attorney in solo practice concentrating in real estate and estate planning. "I am humbled and hugely honored to represent Zamir as its president. I hope to introduce new innovations to strengthen all aspects of the group, and to make our time together more fun as well as musically satisfying," says Judy. "Zamir nurtures my soul, and I so wish to give back to thank the group for all it has given me."


Elana Rome
Elana Rome

Elana Rome, a Newton native now in her fifth year in Zamir, is a sixth-grade math teacher at Brown Middle School. "I am thrilled," she says, "to be able to take on more of a leadership role in Zamir and be able to give back to this incredible community that has brought so much wonderful music and friendship into my life."


Susan Rubin
Susan Rubin

Zamir is deeply grateful to Susan Rubin, outgoing president. After 12 years of dedicated service, Susan has stepped aside to "allow others the opportunity to lead this dynamic group of talented singers." In addition to devoting time to her graphic design and musical theater pursuits, Susan looks forward to a lifetime of song and friendship with Zamir. In a note to the group, Susan said, "I am honored to have served as your president and it was a difficult decision for me to step down. Zamir is my family--my musical and spiritual home--and I will continue to strive to give back some of the joy, insight, and love I receive from each and every one of you."


Deborah Melkin

Deborah Melkin, outgoing vice president, served since 2005. A database administrator by day, Deborah said: "One of the things that makes Zamir so special is the people in it and they're definitely a kind of second family to me. It's been a privilege and an honor that the group has allowed me be their VP for as long as they have, getting to work with everyone and seeing how passionate and talented they are."


Debbie West, Susan Rubin, and Deborah Melkin as the 
"Andrews Sisters"

The Susan-Deborah dynamic duo (in addition to being two-thirds of our "Ba Mir Bistu Sheyn" Andrews Sisters) brought creativity, spirit, and dedication, and made a lasting contribution to the Chorale's

membership and artistic

vision. They will both continue to sing, of course! Our heartfelt thanks to you both for your shining presence and ceaseless energy. And welcome aboard, Judy and Elana! We look forward to working and singing together for years to come. 
Zamir CDs
In each issue of Zamir E-Notes, we will feature "Fans' Favorites"--favorite CDs of our fans. Our Summer E-Notes favorite is 
Greatest Hits

In celebration of its 36th anniversary, the Zamir Chorale of Boston issued its first "Greatest Hits" compilation. It's the famous "Zamir mix" that has been delighting audiences for over four decades.


On this CD you will hear some of Zamir's most popular numbers: Big Band crossover hits "And the Angels Sing" and "Ba Mir Bistu Sheyn"; Shabbat songs "Shalom Aleikhem" and "Eshet Hayil"; liturgical favorites by Rossi, Lewandowski, and Finkelstein; Israeli and Yiddish folk songs; David Burger's passionate Zionist anthem "Tikvateinu"; and even our signature rock 'n' roll versions of "Dayenu" and "I Have a Little Dreydel." 



SUMMER 2013  

Dear Friends of Zamir,


After a challenging spring in the Boston area, we are buoyed by the warmth of the summer sun and hopeful that our entire community will remain strong and optimistic. In this issue, read about our season-ending concert celebrating Israel's 65th, "Touch the Dream," along with our spring roundup and Chorale news. Josh Jacobson's "Musings" offer a behind-the-scenes account of how "Hatikvah" came to be Israel's national anthem. As we embark on our 45th season, we look forward to another spectacular year of bringing the best in Jewish choral music to audiences throughout Boston and New England. 

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. 

One of the most beloved songs to any Zionist is Israel's national anthem, "Hatikvah." Let's delve a little into its history. The lyrics were written by Naphtali Herz Imber, born in 1856 into a Hasidic family in Galicia. He received a traditional education but left home at an early age to wander around the world. He came to Palestine in 1882 and Josh Jacobson stayed for six years writing essays, poetry, and articles for Hebrew periodicals. In 1892, Imber went to the United States, where he was active as a writer and editor. In spite of his intellectual achievements, he found it impossible to make a decent living. He died in poverty of chronic alcoholism in New York City at the age of 53.


In 1882, Imber was visiting Rishon LeTsiyyon in Palestine and read for the residents of this pioneering settlement a poem he had written four years earlier, originally entitled "Tikvateynu" ("Our Hope"). In the first line of the refrain, Imber wrote, "Our hope is not yet lost" (od lo aveda tikvateinu), referencing a vision of the prophet Ezekiel (chapter 37), written in exile in Babylon: "And God said to me, O mortal, these bones are the whole House of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost; we are doomed.' Prophesy, therefore, and say to them, 'Thus said the Lord God: I am going to open your graves and lift you out of the graves, O My people, and bring you to the land of Israel.'"


But where did the music come from? In 1878, Samuel Cohen, a farmer from Moldavia, immigrated to Palestine and settled in Rishon LeTsiyyon. He was there in 1882 when Imber visited the colony and read his poem. Inspired by Imber's reading, Cohen sang "Hatikvah" to the tune of a farmer's folk song that he remembered from his native Moldavia, "Carul Cu Boi" ("Cart and Oxen").


Imber and Hatikvah
Imber and "Hatikvah"

Many have noticed the similarity of this melody to the theme from Bedrich Smetana's symphonic work The Moldau (Vltava), composed in 1874. Indeed, the Czech composer Smetana was deliberately using that same folk song from his native land to give his tone peom a nationalistic flavor.


Coincidentally, the melody also resembles many popular songs, including the Sephardic melody for chanting Tal, the prayers for dew; a Spanish Cathloic hymn, "Virgen de la Cueva"; and a popular dance from 16th-century Italy, "Ballo di Mantova." The rising fifth, followed by a decorative upper neighbor, then falling to the opening tonic pitch can also be heard in "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," itself based on the 18th-century French song "Ah vous dirai-je, maman." One musicologist has referred to our tune as a "wandering melody"--an archetype that pops up all over Europe.


In any event, Imber's poem, now linked with the Moldavian melody, became very popular. In 1895, the words, together with the music, were first published in Leipzig. In 1901, one of the sessions at the fifth Zionist congress in Basel concluded with the delegates singing "Hatikvah," and at the 18th Zionist Congress in 1933, a resolution was passed declaring "Hatikvah" the official Zionist anthem.


But when was "Hatikvah" made the national anthem of Israel? For many years, the Knesset refused to endorse "Hatikvah" as the official anthem. Many Orthodox Jews were upset that there was no mention of God in the lyrics of this song. They preferred Psalm 126 as their anthem. Non-Jewish citizens of Israel felt that the lyrics, beginning with a pointed reference to the "Jewish soul," excluded them. But on November 10, 2004, the Knesset finally adopted "Hatikvah" as Israel's official national anthem by a vote of 38 to 8.

Lights CD
Jacobson on Minnesota Public Radio


Josh Jacobson was interviewed by Mindy Ratner of Minnesota Public Radio as part of a national broadcast and webcast on May 3. The interview will be broadcast in the fall in connection with the MPR Hanukkah program, featuring excerpts from Zamir's popular "Lights" CD.


Sunday, July 21, 9:00 pm: Zamir will help kick off the festivities on opening night of the North American Jewish Choral Festival at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in Kerhonkson, NY. Zamir is always delighted to join Mati Lazar and the Zamir Choral Foundation to celebrate Jewish choral music with musicians from all over the United States. For more information, go to www.zamirfdn.org.


Sunday, October 20, time TBA: Saint John's Seminary, 127 Lake Street, Brighton. Chamber chorus concert. Stay tuned for details in the fall issue!


Sunday, October 27, 7:00 pm: Temple Shalom, 175 Temple Street, West Newton. We were snowed out last February, so let's try again! Stay tuned for details about this special "Open Your Eyes" concert. Sponsored by the Temple Shalom Music Committee. Details at concert@templeshalom.org.


Sunday, December 1, 4:00 pm: Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston. Zamir will join Rabbi Howard Berman of the Central Reform Temple for "A Light Through the Ages," an annual Hanukkah celebration. Details to come in the fall issue.


Tuesday, December 17, 7:30 pm: Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward Street, Newton. Mark your calendars now for "Hanukkah Happens XXIV." This year's theme will be Jewish love songs. 


Coming in 2014 (partial list)


Sunday, March 2, 2014: Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Chestnut Hill. Concert honoring Cantor Aryeh Finklestein, featuring the oratorio "Like Wildflowers Suddenly," composed by Cantor Charles Osborne, lyrics by Cantor Finklestein. 


Touch the Dream: A Musical Tribute to Israel at 65


Josh, Ronda, Scott, Francene, Myra, Robert
Josh Jacobson, Ronda Garber Jacobson, Co-Chair; Rav-Hazzan Scott Sokol; Francene Reichel Sokol; Myra Snyder, Co-Chair; Robert Snyder, Chairman of the Board, Zamir

A sellout crowd of over 400 people filled the social hall at Temple Beth Elohim in Wellesley on June 6, for "Touch the Dream: A Musical Tribute to Israel at 65." Co-chaired by Ronda Garber Jacobson and Myra Snyder, the pops-style concert honored the multi-talented, multi-tasking Rav-Hazzan Scott Sokol. The tone of the evening was set when the choir formed a horseshoe shape among the audience for Shalom Chanoch's "Niga El Ha-Khalom" ("Touch the Dream"), a reflective and inspiring a cappella piece.


Translations and images produced

Gilbert Schiffer
Gilbert Schiffer sings "Untaneh Tokef"

by Hinda Tzivia Eisen were projected onto a screen, adding depth and context to the evening, whose themes included "Prophecy," "Pioneers," "Love Songs," "War and Peace," Another Way," and, of course, "The Land of Israel." Other highlights included the rousing "Al Giv'ot"; the amusing "Kafe Bekef" and "Havu Lanu Yayin"; Yehezkel Braun's stirring "Magash Ha-Kesef"; and Kenneth Lampl's sublime "Jerusalem," which he introduced via a prerecorded video message. Gilbert Schiffer performed a moving solo in "Untaneh Tokef" ("The Holiness of the Day").


Charles Coe brings greetings from MCC
Charles Coe of the
 Mass Cultural Council

Also present were Charles Coe, poet and jazz vocalist, who represented the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), a state-funded agency that helps to support Zamir's programs; and Robert Snyder, Zamir's board chair. Each of them spoke about Zamir's commitment and contribution to the Boston cultural scene and beyond, and praised Zamir's special mission of bringing Jewish music to non-Jewish audiences.


Former Zamirnik Heather Zacker paid tribute to Scott in a heartfelt speech, along with a series of archival slides. Then Scott offered his personal and moving reflections, in words and music; he then soloed with the Chorale for the finale, Sol Zim's stirring prayer for Israel, "Avinu She-ba-shamayim." Mazal tov and gratitude to Scott and his family for their profound contribution to the richness of Jewish culture in our community. 

Scott Sokol sings "Avinu She-ba-shamayim"
Photos by Mickey Goldin

Middle East Harmonies on the Cape


On Sunday, May 19, Zamir performed at the Cape Cod Synagogue in Hyannis, Mass. The concert, featuring selections from "Middle East Harmonies: A Musical Dialogue Between Arab and Israeli Cultures," a collaboration of Zamir and Northeastern University that was first presented in 2011. Joining Zamir accompanist Edwin Swanborn, guest musicians included flutist Amir Milstein, percussionist Taki Masuko, and vocalist and oud player Mehmet Sanlikol. Their mesmerizing instrumental set demonstrated the intricacy of the genre. Other highlights included Alison Fields's cover for Mireille's "Lama Bada Yatathana" in Arabic; and Jill and Larry Sandberg's playful "Aval Ahavah." The evening concluded with a rousing encore of "Lekha Dodi." 
Zamir performs Middle East Harmonies
Photo by Larry Sandberg 
In an email to Julie (soprano) and Terry Smily, audience member Kate Sidwell wrote: "Tonight was a night of nights for me. The incredible outpouring of love and talent brought the crowd to its feet to celebrate the human potential in all of us. Zamir was superb and the message was the million hearts yearning for Peace on Earth. Songs in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. Love songs from Sufis with flutes, mandolins, bongo drums--it was too beautiful and brought tears to many eyes. The sound of longing and aching for international peace was made into music from heaven really. If you have ever doubted that Love Conquers All, this was it." Many thanks to the Jewish Federation of Cape Cod for sponsoring this special reprise event and to Terry Smily for making it happen.


Singing for Seniors on Mother's Day


On May 12,  Zamir performed our annual concert for the residents at Hebrew SeniorLife. The program included Yiddish, Israeli, and contemporary selections from Zamir's repertoire. At the end of the short program, the group surrounded the audience in a musical embrace with John Rutter's "The Lord Bless You." A musician whose mother is a resident at HSL approached Josh Jacobson and tenor Gilbert Schiffer after the concert, thanking Zamir, saying, "It was a treat for my ears and a treasure for my soul."   



Zamirniks Join Newton Community Sing


At the Newton Cultural Center on May 5, an enthusiastic contingent of Zamirniks past and present participated in the first-ever Newton Community Sing. The event is the brainchild of Jaime Alberts, Zamir alum and director of the Newton All-City and Bigelow Middle School Choirs. With assistance from Linda Plaut, Director of the Mayor's Office for Cultural Affairs, Jaime received a grant from the Newton Cultural Council and support from Newton Community Pride. Nick Page, founder of the Mystic Chorale and nationally known leader of "Power Sings," led the festivities. About 100 people, including members of the Newton Country Players, Newton Choral Society, JourneySongs, Folk Society of Greater Boston, Newton All City Honor Choirs, and Silver Newtones, were present; and Zamirniks were surprised to be called to the stage to lead the audience in "Alle Brider." "I was thrilled with the event's success and touched by how many of my Zamir friends came out to support it!" Jaime said. Ruth Barnett, President of Newton Community Pride, expects the tradition to continue--Josh Jacobson is scheduled to lead another Community Sing in March 2014.



As always, let us know what you're up to--we love hearing from our friends near and far. Have a relaxing and peaceful summer!

Barbara Gaffin 

Managing Director


Deborah Sosin

Editor, E-Notes