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The Makor Hayim Singing Circle

By Marco Schneebalg

For the past year, the Makor Hayim Singing Circle has been bringing joy to all its members once a month, and we are very excited to share that joy with you during these High Holidays.

In July last year, when we realised that High Holidays would have to be on Zoom, and that only one person would be able to sing each song, Rachel Singer valiantly led a group of us to learn, rehearse and finally sing all of the songs. Over a series of Zoom meetings, we learnt traditional and new tunes for the services. The experience was a great success: we bonded in each of the rehearsing sessions, were able to alternate singers at services and attendees really enjoyed their participatory nature.

We then decided that we should bring that formula forward throughout the year, and have met once a month since. Our key principle is inspired by the Jewish singing retreat “Let my people Sing!’. There is no such thing as “not being able to sing” - in our singing circle everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner. We make sure each song is taught through “call and response” at every session, so that everyone is able to sing together.

In that way, we’ve learnt shabbat morning tunes, a wide variety of nigunim (short melodies that are sung in a loop), and Jewish songs in Yiddish, Italian and ladino. We have welcomed over 20 participants over the year and every meeting has given us joy and inspiration.

The Zoom setting has been challenging but has allowed us to have participants join from many corners of the world. A particular joy for me has been to introduce my mom, Donatella, in Brussels to the joys of Jewish singing. The highlight of our year was perhaps (virtually) welcoming the New York Jewish acapella band Pizmon for a Zoom concert where they taught us their beautiful Nachamu. We are very excited to welcome them (hopefully physically) in March again this year!

We’ve been meeting fortnightly for the past two months to make sure we’re ready for the upcoming High Holidays, which will be held on Zoom once again. We’ll be singing our favourite traditional tunes but also some newer ones. You can access here a playlist of some of the tunes we’ll be singing if you want to get familiar with them. We are still looking for volunteers, so if you’d like to sing any of those songs at services or just want to get familiar with the tunes, please just let us know or join our next meetings on Wed 25/8 at 8pm, Thu 2/9 8.15pm or Mon 13/9 at 8.15pm!

Last but not least, last year, we had a “theme song” which accompanied us throughout the High Holidays, opening and closing every service. The song became like an anthem and brought us so much joy when we all unmuted at the end of Yom Kippur and sang it together. We’ve decided to repeat this experiment, and after a long discussion, we have now chosen this year’s hit: Nava Tehila’s aptly named “Tishrei nigun”. Have a listen to get you in the mood - we’re expecting singing and dancing to the tune from all of you!

Hope to see you at our next circle!

Much Love


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