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Newcastle is alive with the sound of music

Newcastle Reform Synagogue (NRS) is focussing on the role of music in their community in 2017 as Jo Edwards explains.

On Shabbat 20 and 21 January, we were delighted to welcome Judith Silver, (a singer-songwriter of renown in the worlds of harmony singing, community choirs and Jewish music) into our community.

This was the first of a number of visits to NRS across the year to work with the community to develop a choir, help us ‘fix’ some of our familiar tunes and introduce some new tunes to allow us to develop variety into our services.

On Friday night, Judith and Rabbi Sybil Sheridan led a relaxing, musical Shabbat evening service encompassing both familiar and less familiar tunes. Following a shared chavurah supper, Judith continued with the singing of Shabbat songs where we started to learn some new tunes.

The Shabbat morning service was another musical affair, keeping to the more traditional community songs as we celebrated the lives of Kathy and Ron Lahav who were keen members of NRS. Kathy and Ron had bequeathed money to the City of Newcastle for a project on Jewish heritage as well as giving a donation to NRS in their memory. Attended by the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Lieutenant and interfaith leaders, Judith and Rabbi Sybil made sure our service was memorable and we were kept in tune and harmonious.

Following the service and kiddush, Judith led a singing workshop predominantly focussed on singing easy rounds to add fun and harmony to Shabbat services. We looked at alternative tunes and even had the pleasure of being taught a brand new piece by Judith which was composed for our benefit.

Everyone who attended agreed the weekend had been a complete success and Judith had turned a collection of individual singers into a harmonious group.

We look forward to Judith returning in April to continue her work with us. The challenge is now to remember the tunes and keep practising.

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