Closeup of people playing guitars

At Hava Nashira, you’ll learn from and collaborate with many of the same experts who led, taught, and brought you the Biennial worship, as well as so many other music and worship leaders from across our Movement.

Cantor Barbara Ostfeld smiles on stage as she accepts her award

Editor's note: The text that follows was presented before a live audience at the 2019 URJ Biennial on Wednesday, Dec. 11 as Cantor Barbara Ostfeld, the first woman to be ordained as a cantor, was presented with the 2019 Debbie Friedman Award for Contributions to Jewish Music. 

Three young people playing guitars at a summer camp worship service

This fall, the URJ will launch a Teen Songleading Fellowship that will road-test the best ways to identify and support more songleaders than ever across North America.

Michelle Shapiro Abraham, RJE
Two copyright stamps and their imprints in red ink on brown paper

Check out these five important things your congregation should know about Jewish music and copyright laws.

Joe Eglash
Satellite view of Hurricane Irma over Florida and the Caribbean

As the storm waters from Hurricane Irma recede, the full extent of her impact is becoming more and more apparent. 

Mark J. Pelavin & Amy Asin
Five smiling individuals including the author and his wife wearing conference name tags and posing outdoors with their arms around one anothers shoulders

Our movements would benefit from more time spent together. It’d be a shame to miss out on the learning and the humanity from each other's communities.

Rabbi Billy Dreskin
Man and woman playing guitars and singing while leading worship services

Once the High Holidays are over, I’m often left wondering what we can we do to get people back into the sanctuary before the next Rosh HaShanah rolls around.

Cantor Lizzie Weiss
young man playing guitar

Synagogue music experienced a radical transformation in the late 1960s, as sing-along tunes that originated in youth group and camp settings replaced the earlier performance-oriented style. The duo, Kol B’Seder, made up of Rabbi Daniel Freelander, then a voice major at the Hartt School of Music, and Cantor Jeff Klepper, then a Kutz Camp-trained song leader, helped usher in the new era of Jewish liturgical folk music.  Their 1973 setting of “Shalom Rav,” like Debbie Friedman’s “Mi Shebeirach,” have since become so ubiquitous worldwide as to be considered traditional.  

I asked Rabbi Freelander, who is now executive director of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, how a small cadre of camp-based singer-songwriters launched a revolution that got Reform Jews singing in the pews.

Aron Hirt-Manheimer

Until I joined my synagogue, my only knowledge of religiously based choirs was watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on TV. I had no idea synagogues had choirs!

Howard Lev
musical notes on sheet music for the Jewish high holidays like Yom Kippur and Rosh HaShanah

Transcontinental Music Publications, now a division of the American Conference of Cantors, invites composers to submit new musical settings of Shabbat texts for consideration for one of its first new projects, Shabbat Anthology Volume VIII.