Peace pipes

Famed cantors join voices to sing prayer for unity

JVocals website brings together singers of all theological stripes for Yom Haatzmaut arrangement

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

There have been acappella singers and rockers, orchestras and vocalists in the coronavirus Zoom compilations of the last few weeks. Now there are cantors.

JVocals, an online platform that organizes liturgical musical talent, produced an arrangement of “Avinu Shebashamayim,” conducted by Alexander Tsaliuk of the Moscow Male Jewish Cappella, featuring 19 cantors of different theological stripes for Israel’s 72nd Independence Day celebrations.

The singing cantors included renowned cantor Sol Zim, now 80, who composed this particular melody of “Avinu Shebashamayim,” along with Shai Abramson, cantor of the Israel Defense Forces, and singer and actor Dudu Fisher, best known for his Broadway performance as Jean Valjean in the musical “Les Misérables.”

The melody was composed by Zim 32 years ago to accompany the blessing for peace in Israel that is recited every Shabbat in most synagogues worldwide.

Zim once wrote in the Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center newsletter, where he has been the cantor since 1964, that he first heard “Avinu Shebashamayim” performed musically at services at The Great Synagogue in Jerusalem.

Sol Zim, the renowned cantor who composed the famed music to ‘Avinu Shebashamayim’, singing in the JVocals arrangement (Courtesy JVocals)

He composed this particular melody for Israel’s 40th anniversary, but wrote that he never imagined it would become such a powerful piece of music in the Jewish world.

“When I wrote this piece, I sat at the piano, like I always do, trying to really feel the meaning of the words. I wanted to bring the words to life. I wanted to create an all-encompassing spiritual and meaningful experience for the worshipper,” wrote Zim.

Zim added, “A dear friend of mine who recently called me said ‘you must be raking it in on royalties.’ My dear friends, I must share with you…. the only royalties I get is through ‘MITZVOT’ and I kvell from one ear to the other. That’s royalty enough for me.”

This particular arrangement created with a group of JVocals cantors brings together different streams of Judaism, said Motti Hasfari, who created the website and launched it in September.

His aim is to have all 2,000 cantors worldwide listed on the site, where professional voices reign.

“We brought together all these cantors to bring the message that we’re united in the time of the coronavirus,” said Hasfari.

The 19 cantors who gathered together to sing ‘Avinu Shebashamayim,’ the liturgical anthem for peace in Israel, in honor of Israel’s 72nd Independence Day celebrations, April 29, 2020 (Courtesy JVocals)

The participating cantors were Yaacov Motzen, Yaki Lauer, Yanki Lemmer, Avreimi Roth, Dudu Fisher, Uriel Granat, Chaim David Berson, Benny Rogosnitzky, Yossi Malovani, David Guber, Gia Beshitaishvili, Israel Rand, Yechezkel Klang, Sol Zim, Chaim Stern, Simon Cohen, Daniel Mutlu, Avremi Kirchenbaum and Yossi Schwartz.

The JVocals arrangement was created by Roman Maslennikov, with musical production by Yossi Schwartz, piano by Alexander Velikovsky and video editing by Yuval Erez and BE Productions.

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