Singer-songwriter Rabbi Jake Czuper wants to teach your child the joys of being Jewish.
The children’s entertainer and Atlanta Jewish Academy Judaic studies educator teaches Jewish values through music in a fun, carefree way. This month the rabbi released his debut album, “Rabbi Jake Vol. 1.”
The native Atlantan and father of three visited the Atlanta Jewish Times offices to talk about the album, what it means to be a proud Jew and the Jewish children’s music circuit.
AJT: So did you start out focused on children’s music?
Rabbi Jake: In general, I play music of all types, but I’m trying to mostly focus on using music to educate and also using music to give a positive feeling and inspiration towards Judaism. I try to speak to the child’s heart. If people come to a Rabbi Jake show, it’s a positive, upbeat, Jewish experience.
AJT: What are the most important Jewish values to teach to children?
Rabbi Jake: The values I stress to children are gratitude, that we should be proud to be Jews and that it’s a mitzvah to be happy.
AJT: The last track on your album is titled “Proud to Be a Jew.” Why is it important to be proud?
Rabbi Jake: We should be proud of who we are, and we shouldn’t hide it. We’ve been around thousands of years, and we have a mission in this world to make it a better place. The Aleinu LeShabeach prayer says it is upon us to be the ones who praise G-d, to be the ones who spread the light around the world. I think we should be proud to have that sacred path.
AJT: What’s the landscape currently of Jewish children’s music in Atlanta and the Southeast?
Rabbi Jake: It’s a genre that there’s not so much out there. There’s one guy in the New York area called Uncle Moishe who’s been doing this for like 30 years. I feel that it’s an untapped area to reach children in.
AJT: Is that one of the reasons that you got in to the genre?
Rabbi Jake: Yes, I just felt there was a void. When I go to an event, I like to create a Jewish experience for these kids but not so intense. It’s very fun and upbeat. The kids learn a few messages, and they won’t even realize it. I’m passionate about finding kids when they’re having fun and giving them some Jewish content at the same time.
AJT: What would you say is the main age group you focus on?
Rabbi Jake: Basically from zero to 10 years old. I have played at camps around for 12-year-olds, though, and sometimes they are more outwardly into it than the little ones.
AJT: Do you tailor your performances to the age group you’re in front of?
Rabbi Jake: Every concert is unique. I definitely change each show depending on who is there and who I’m performing for. If I have 3-year-olds, I’m going to do something different than if I have 10-year-olds.
AJT: Your new CD is out now. How can people get their hands on it?
Rabbi Jake: It’s available in a variety of formats digitally — Amazon, CD Baby, Google and iTunes. It’s also in the local Judaica store Chosen Treasures. It’s going to be in stores worldwide by the end of the month.