The MRJ Music Conference 2013
Finchley was alive with the sound of music as the second biennial Movement for Reform Judaism Music Conference took place from 11-14 July. With almost 100 delegates from 25 communities, the conference celebrated the role of music in Jewish life.
Taking place at the Sternberg Centre, Finchley Reform Synagogue and Alyth (North Western Reform Synagogue), the conference was an opportunity to learn from the world’s foremost experts in the field of Jewish liturgical music through a series of workshops and services. Delegates explored the use of music to enhance religious services, learning new melodies and choral harmonies for traditional prayers.
Pictured are the Conference’s world class faculty: Josh Nelson, Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Craig Taubman, Cantor Zöe Jacobs, Shira Kline and Cantor Rosalie Boxt.
Sessions included song-leading at camp, exploring the art of Storahtelling, which offers a new approach to the Torah Service; encouraging congregational singing in services, learning from British composers, creating a t’fillah band to lead services, exploring secular music in a sacred space, teaching music to young people and enhancing festival repertoire.
Those who benefited from attending included educators, service leaders, rabbis, rabbinic students, madrichim (youth leaders) and of course, people who just love to sing.
One participant, Jonathan Lewis of Sinai who is also an MRJ Board member said: “This was truly inspiring. I think I experienced every emotion possible in those four days. It was one of the best conferences I can remember ever attending and cannot think how it could have been better organised.”
Finchley Reform Synagogue hosted a Friday night service followed by dinner and an oneg celebration. One participant hailed the service as ‘the most moving and inspirational Shabbat service I have ever experienced.”
The Conference closed with an inspirational concert at Alyth from Craig Taubman, one of the foremost liturgical composers of this generation. People left the conference with renewed energy, personal growth, gained knowledge and a passion to help create change in their communities.
Pam Goldsmith, MRJ’s Director of Community Development said: “It was a hugely successful few days and a great example of what we can do when we join together. Through activities like this we can enhance the musical and spiritual life of our members and communities across the country, contributing to engaging and inspiring services within our communities and on camp.”
The event was the brainchild of Cantor Zöe Jacobs who is the first Progressive cantor in this country and is transforming Jewish religious music in the UK.
Participation in the MRJ Music Conference is heavily subsidised; special thanks go to JMI - the Jewish Music Institute for their kind support.
MRJ Music Conference: making the old new, and the new holy
Cantor Zöe Jacobs of Finchley Reform Synagogue is the first Reform cantor working in the UK. Here she reflects on the power of music in our communities and the exciting possibilities opened up by participation in the MRJ Music Conference.