With all the vibrant institutions in our local community, it is truly wonderful when events and programs take place that transcend the boundaries of those institutions and show the cohesiveness of the community itself. April 25 was one of those special programs.
The Michigan Board of Cantors — which itself boasts representation from many synagogues in multiple “streams” of Judaism — sponsored its first annual “Jewish Voice” competition, which featured 17 middle school and high school students from across Metropolitan Detroit (and even one from East Lansing).
While each of these students had different affiliations with the Jewish community and went to a mix of schools (some public, some Jewish day schools, including Hillel and FJA), they shared something very simple and yet immensely powerful: a connection to Judaism and a love of music.
The diversity in the music performed by these students was incredible — modern Israeli songs were performed alongside those of contemporary Jewish-American composers, classic composers of “chazzanut” and even a 19th-century melody by one of the early Lubavitch rebbes. Each student brought individual style and passion to his or her respective performance and showed a personal connection with Jewish music.
Although a competition, it was also wonderful to witness the camaraderie that developed over the course of the evening among the 17 students, most of whom entered the night knowing some of the others and ended the evening congratulating and embracing kids whom they had just met for the first time to celebrate their mutual love of music and successes of the evening.
To witness this cross-section of our Jewish community come together to share music was, itself, wonderful. But to see these students bond over that very sense of community and recognize that there are others who love what they do was truly special.
Thank you to Hazzan Dan Gross (of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills) for developing such a wonderful program with his colleagues on the Michigan Board of Cantors. Through their work, they demonstrated how our diverse community really is unified.
Alan M. Gallatin