expressive judaism: beyond the chanukah song
Monday nights, 6:15 - 7:45 PM

How does music jive with Judaism? As Jews, we value a good beat. There’s a Jewish song for everything from waking up to going to sleep, eating to washing your hands, getting married to mourning a loved one. How can music be a guide to living a meaningful adult life? We'll utilize music as Jewish text, explore how music could be a guide for living a meaningful adult life, and build a community of people who seek a connection through auditory experiences. You don’t have to be a singer or even musically-inclined to participate, just open-hearted and ready to “ya-dai-dai” along.


 Jay herman

Jay herman

Sample Syllabus

Week 1: A Musical Retrospective: Music in our Lives and in the Jewish Narrative

Music surrounds us. We hear songs and we are taken back to significant (or insignificant!) moments in our lives. The same is true for Jewish music. In this class we will examine musical markers in our lives and learn some of the foundational musical moments in Jewish tradition.


Week 2: Rest: Shavat Vayinafash

We all need to chill. Shabbat is the Jewish space for rest, but it’s not exactly the Netflix watching, Tostitos-eating, (non-alcoholic) beer-drinking rest that we’re used to. There is a Jewish prescription for resting on Shabbat, and surprise, surprise, it involves a ton of music.


Week 3: Elevation Through Separation

Judaism occasionally portrays G-d as the ultimate separator. It is said that G-d made the world by separating the land and the sea, which allowed life to emerge. Shabbat is all about separation, and this week we will learn the blessings of separation that bring us back into the week.


Week 4: Love

Can we imagine what ideal love feels like? The music of this week’s course allows us to create avenues through which we can understand some of the characteristics of Judaism’s ideal Love, and maybe even feel “loved by an Unending Love.”


Week 5: My Big Fat Jewish Wedding

This weekend is our instructor's anniversary. This class will look into the music and lyrics that are sung at Jewish weddings to fulfill the obligation of bringing joy to the couple.


Week 6: Sheva Brachot: The Jewish Wedding Continued!

Following a Jewish wedding, the couple surrounds themselves by friends at meals for seven days, mirroring the seven blessings said under the chuppah (wedding canopy). 


Week 7: Gratitude and Humility

One of the foundational prerequisites to Jewish theology is acknowledgement that we are not always in control. As we approach Thanksgiving (Rebecca’s favorite holiday!), we take stock of Judaism’s ideas and melodies surrounding gratitude.


Off for Thanksgiving


Week 8: Vulnerability and Protection

It is not only children who have fears. Whether it be of the dark, of heights, of loneliness, Judaism speaks of fear and protection from the things we fear in countless songs. Tonight we will look at melodies and words from the blessings before one goes to sleep.


Week 9: Do You Believe in Miracles? Chanukah Songs Beyond Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler made a huge hit out of his “Hanukkah Song(s),” but the music of Chanukah goes far beyond his 90s sensation. Tonight we will learn about Chanukah through the texts and music of traditional and contemporary Chanukah songs.


Course 10: Peace Be With You
As we send you on your way, we say “tzeitchem l’shalom” - leave in peace. How do we do it? We sing about peace!