AJMF: Embrace Your Spiritual Side

AJMF: Embrace Your Spiritual Side

Leah R. Harrison

Leah Harrison is a reporter and copy editor for the Atlanta Jewish Times.

The Atlanta Jewish Music Festival offers several opportunities for you to get your jam on while you nourish your Jewish soul.

Sunmoon Pie performs March 18 for Chant Shabbat at Ahavath Achim
Sunmoon Pie performs March 18 for Chant Shabbat at Ahavath Achim

Born from the vision of Bram Bessoff, the outgoing AJMF president and board co-chair, to decentralize festival programming, events this year will be held at six synagogues and three other Jewish institutions, in addition to seven other venues. One of Bessoff’s main goals was “to get as many if not all of the congregations and Jewish organizations across Atlanta to hold their own events under the AJMF moniker instead of trying to force our entire community to come to one event, and to allow any that wanted to be involved.”

The festival provides the following opportunities to mix music and religion:

  • Jazz Shabbat service at Congregation Or Hadash on March 11 — After opening the festival with two shows the previous night, the Hadar Noiberg Trio teams up with the talented Or Hadash house band for a soul-rocking Friday night.
  • Ruach Shabbat at Temple Beth Tikvah on March 18 — The Roswell congregation opens its quarterly Ruach Shabbat to the public. Bessoff, a Beth Tikvah member, described it as “a standard Reform Friday night Shabbat service, but all of the prayers are played in musical form with a full ensemble. We have percussion, flute, violin, several guitars and our chorus. Music is critical to Ruach Shabbat.” Beth Tikvah Cantor Nancy Kassel leads the service.

    Sammy Rosenbaum will be performing as part of  "The Well" at the Temple March 25
    Sammy Rosenbaum will be performing as part of “The Well” at the Temple March 25
  • Chant Shabbat at Ahavath Achim Synagogue on March 18 and Congregation Bet Haverim on March 19 — Inspirational chant leader and vocal coach Gayanne Guerin teams with composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Will Robertson and Jewish-inspired soulful hometown music group Sunmoon Pie for two transcendent spiritual services. Geurin said the services use chant leadership for simple phrases in Hebrew with instrumental accompaniment to help attendees experience Shabbat through a different lens.
  • Music at the Mikvah at the Metro Atlanta Community Mikvah on March 24 — Jaffa Road members Aviva Chernick and Aaron Lightstone bring a program Chernick created for MACoM to connect the dynamic water, her music and the spirituality of the rituals of immersion. According to MACoM Vice President Caryn Hanrahan, Chernick hopes to “demystify the practice of immersion and offer a beautiful background to allow individuals to learn about mikvah and how it is being used in new and nontraditional ways to mark transitions in life both good and difficult.” The acoustics of the mikvah should intensify the effect of the raspy timbre of Chernick’s vocals.
  • The Well at The Temple on March 25 — Rabbi David Spinrad explained the name of the service: “In the Jewish biblical tradition the well is a gathering place for people to meet and to find physical, emotional and spiritual sustenance. The Well aspires to be precisely this.” The Well is a soulful and spirited young-adult musical service that has gained popularity and momentum the past two years with Rabbi Spinrad, Sammy Rosenbaum and other local artists. “Come with spirit,” Rosenbaum said. “Leave with soul.”
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