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Song Session and Spirituality

Spirituality takes many forms. Sometimes it’s prayer, sometimes it’s community. Sometimes it’s silence. It looks different for everyone. For me, it’s always been music. Whether as an audience member or performer, practicing alone or in an ensemble, there’s nothing that seems to move me quite like music. My strongest ties to Judaism are based in music. From prayers on Friday night, to Kabalat Shabbat at school, to Holiday songs at synagogue;  these musical moments help tether me to my Jewish identity, and strengthen my spirituality.

Music gives voice to those who might otherwise stay silent. I, for one, feel much more comfortable going up in front of a crowd and performing a song than I would giving a speech. Similarly, those who may not feel comfortable singing in front of others can still participate on instruments, percussion, or in dance. Song session is an opportunity for people who tend to shy away from leadership roles to step into those positions, and lead in a way that feels more natural to them.

The rich history of nigguns (religious prayer melodies sung without words) indicates the spiritual significance of music. There are some things we can’t capture in words, yet music helps us express it. Song session offers us that same outlet, as a way to burn off excess energy, an opportunity to engage with others creatively, and a moment of deep spirituality.

This is the magic of song session. It is a moment for everyone to join together and create music, not in competition, without hierarchy, and free from judgment. Musicians and non-musicians alike work together on equal footing to create something bigger than themselves. That moment of community is nothing short of spiritual to me.



About the Author

Aaron Rothko


Aaron Rothko is a URJ CLASP fellow, the Hebrew and Music Educator of Touro Synagogue, and a lifelong camp kid who is excited to bring his love of camp and Jewish music to Jacobs this summer as Songleader and Director of Jewish Life.

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