Communal concert takes place March 27.
University of Michigan School of Social Work Jewish Communal Leadership Program presents Joyful Jewish Jams: A Communal Concert and Conversation on Monday, March 27, at The Ark (Doors at 6:30 p.m.; concert at 7 p.m.).
The culminating event of the 20-month Jewish Communal Leadership Program is the annual Communal Conversation planned by the graduating class. This free-to-the-public event is a celebration of the multitude of community connections fostered through the program between the students, the school and Jewish organizations and groups.
In past years, the Communal Conversations event leaned toward a more traditional lecture/panel model. This year is different. Lydia Greenberg, graduating student of the leadership program, shared that emerging from the strain and isolation of COVID, the students sought to lean into the lifegiving and joyful part of Judaism — coming together in song and celebration.
Yes, there will still be a traditional learning component through conversation, but the heart of the event is, as the event title states, Joyful Jewish Jams. Two artists to look forward to at the event are Aly Halpert and Batya Levine. Both musicians are alums of the Hadar Rising Song Institute, which aims to cultivate the grassroots musical-spiritual creativity of the Jewish people.
Aly Halpert is an Ann Arbor native. According to her website, “Aly writes songs for building community, working for collective liberation and visioning different worlds … Her songs support those moving through grief, praying for change and connecting with the Divine.” In April 2022, Aly released her first full-length album with a band titled “Loosen.” It is available anywhere you get your music.
“I’m really looking forward to Joyful Jewish Jams,” Halpert said. “It’s an honor to be part of a thriving and varied Jewish musical landscape, and to celebrate our tradition and its wisdom through song. On a personal note, it’s always special to play a show in my hometown, and especially to be at The Ark where I saw so many musicians I looked up to throughout my childhood.”
Batya Levine is the co-founder of and director of programs at Let My People Sing. According to her website, “Rooted in the traditional wisdom and ruach (spirit) of their Modern Orthodox upbringing, Batya is dedicated to building a vibrant Judaism that simultaneously reaches backward and forward in time and is wide enough for our whole selves.”
The Jewish Communal Leadership Program is grateful to event sponsors who made the concert free to the public. Sponsors include Jean & Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, Zingerman’s, University of Michigan Hillel, Beth Israel Congregation of Ann Arbor, the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, The Well, the U-M School of Social Work Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and CultureVerse.
“There is so much to grieve and celebrate in the world we are in right now, but we can’t do it alone,” Halpert said. “Being together in song reminds us of our inherent connection to each other and our inherent goodness. This music is about knowing who we are as a Jewish people, so that we can work in solidarity with all other peoples to end oppression and build the world we want to live in. Moving through both grief and joy are crucial ingredients towards that goal.”
Applications are open for U-M’s School of Social Work. When applying, select an interest in “Special Program” and specify Jewish Communal Leadership Program as the program of interest. Katie Beasley-Sriro, Jewish Communal Leadership program manager, looks forward to connecting with prospective students to answer questions and provide support in applying. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (https://ssw.umich.edu/offices/jewish-communal-leadership-program)