May 1, 2011

Mechon Hadar: Jews by Blood, Jews by Choice, Jews and Jews Alone; Plus: New Melodies CD and Book!

Click here to view a web version of this email.
In this email
David Berg Foundation Lectures on Jewish Identity
Launch of Building Singing Communities - A New Book and CD
Support Mechon Hadar
 Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our work.



Upcoming Events

May 3 - Berg Lectures on Jewish Identity Begin (7:30pm)

May 9 - Yom HaZikaron/Yom Haatzmaut Services (7:30pm)

May 12 - Building Singing Communities Book Launch

June 20 - Yeshivat Hadar Summer 2011 Kickoff

July 10 - Executive Seminar Begins - For Adults of All Ages and Backgrounds

Download these recent podcasts from
Parashat Kedoshim
Parashat Acharei Mot
Parashat Metzora

Follow Mechon Hadar Online 

Find us on Facebook  Like us on Facebook!
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter!
David Berg Foundation Lectures on Jewish Identity  
Rabbi Ethan TuckerJoin Rabbi Ethan Tucker, named one of America's most influential rabbis by Newsweek, for a 3-part series on Jewish Identity.



3 Tuesday nights, May 3, 10 & 17, 7:30-9:00pm

(to be followed by Arvit) 


Mechon Hadar, 190 Amsterdam Avenue (at 69 Street)


Can't make it in person?  Watch each lecture live on UStream.


Recordings will also be made available on our website several days following each lecture.


These lectures will address some of the thorniest issues surrounding Jewish identity through an honest look both at traditional sources and our contemporary reality. We will aim to achieve both historical perspective and a practical roadmap for today's Jewish community.


Lecture 1 (May 3): Jews by Blood: Patrilineality and Matrinileality in Jewish Law

Are people with one Gentile and one Jewish parent full members of the Jewish community? Total outsiders? Somewhere in the middle? This issue continues to divide the contemporary Jewish community, often in traumatic ways. We will confront this issue head-on, exploring the full range of sources on this topic and proposing a new paradigm that is more honest to the richness of our tradition and contemporary realities.


Lecture 2 (May 10): Jews by Choice: Conversion and Apostasy throughout the Ages

People have always entered and exited the Jewish body politic via the processes of conversion and apostasy. As we think about Jewish identity today, should we recognize the right of someone born Jewish to leave? And if not, how can we square that with a commitment to the reverse process, that of a Gentile becoming a Jew? We will reflect on contemporary strategy through the prism of Jewish sources.


Lecture 3 (May 17): Jews and Jews Alone: The Problem of Religious Syncretism

Contemporary Jewish and American society takes intermarriage between people of different religions for granted. And it often goes further, assuming that the blending of different traditions in fact produces a stronger, richer religious experience. When is it acceptable to be a syncretist, allowing two or more traditions to affect personal practice. And when is religious syncretism a covenantal breach, the failure to meet exclusivist claims and demands made by one tradition over any other? In this final lecture, we will aim to formulate an overarching approach to this most central question of Jewish identity in the contemporary period.

Launch of Building Singing Communities - A New Book and CD    

Building Singing Communities covers
Mechon Hadar invites you to celebrate the launch of Joey's Nigunim, a new album of original melodies by Mechon Hadar faculty member Joey Weisenberg, as well as Building Singing Communities, a book by Joey Weisenberg about unlocking the power of music in Jewish prayer.  This represents the first publication of Mechon Hadar's Minyan Project.

When: Thursday, May 12, 7:30pm
Where: Mechon Hadar, 190 Amsterdam Avenue (at 69th Street)

Be sure not to miss this opportunity to sing some of Joey's Nigunim with Joey himself and learn a brand new melody composed for the launch.

Joey W
Joey Weisenbergeisenberg is a mandolinist, guitarist, singer and percussionist based in New York City, who has performed and recorded internationally with dozens of bands in a wide variety of musical styles. Joey works as the Music Director at Brooklyn's oldest synagogue, the Kane Street Synagogue, and is the music faculty at Yeshivat Hadar, an egalitarian yeshiva in New York. He is an artist-fellow at the 14th Street Y's Laba program, and teaches Klezmer music as a faculty member at KlezKanada. He was recently named to "36 under 36" in The Jewish Week as one of 36 new and exciting innovators in Jewish life today. Joey visits shuls and communities around the country as a musician-in-residence, in which he teaches his popular 'Spontaneous Jewish Choir' workshops. For more information, please visit

What People Are Saying About Joey Weisenberg:

"Joey's effect on how we participate in Jewish singing will forever impact on our relationship to Judaism and each other. While he has taken from the legacies of Goldfarb, Friedman and Carlebach, not to mention the hundreds of lesser known creators of nigunim, ultimately he is putting his personal stamp on our ever changing tradition and helping us all achieve transformation through music."
- Elise Bernhardt
President and CEO, Foundation for Jewish Culture

"More than any other art form music has urged a new creative vista for Jewish expression and practice in our era. By fusing theory, pedagogy, and deep knowledge and feel for music, Joey offers a precious map for those of us who believe that a community must be able to translate its sacred traditions and texts through art in order to know where it needs to go."
- Stephen Hazan Arnoff, Executive Director of the 14th Street Y
Founder of LABA: The National Laboratory for New Jewish Culture

"Joey Weisenberg is one of the greatest of the young Jewish musicians and teachers coming onto the scene today. He and his music are full of skill, sincerity, and passion. As a student of mine, he quickly learned the modulating modes and improvisational constructions of Cantorial music, and most importantly, how that music brings out the character of prayer. In Building Singing Communities, he thoughtfully presents innovations for the shul that reflect his experiences and experiments in the field of Jewish music. Joey's work will appeal to people from across the Jewish spectrum, and I eagerly await seeing what develops from these promising ideas. "
-  Cantor Noach Schall
Author The Hazzanic Thesaurus and master teacher of Cantorial Music for over 60 years.

"To build and sustain Jewish community, Jews must find and lend their voices - every member of the mishpuchah must be given user-friendly tools to join in song, but simultaneously be motivated and empowered to find his or her own personal harmonies and twists. In Building Singing Communities, Joey Weisenberg, an accomplished and unusually versatile musician but also a shining teacher and rousing facilitator, shares his experience and expertise in orchestrating Jewish communities in search of depth, coherence, and transcendence. The practical lyrics of this how-to guide help generate the deeply inspiring spiritual music that both underlies and catalyzes the eternally singing collective of our people."
- Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, LCSW, Rabbinic Director, JBFCS National Center for Jewish Healing, Grateful member, Kane Street Synagogue, Brooklyn

"Joey's unique vision for building inclusive, participatory singing communities is a much needed contribution to modern prayer groups, regardless of age, size, or affiliation. Having sung - and lead - in his High Holiday services for the past 3 years, I can attest both to Joey's innovations and insights in davenning experiences, as well as to his incredible talent and breadth of musical knowledge. Above all, Joey strives to build relationships through shared musical experiences, and with the practical tips and colorful analogies in this book, he makes it easy for you to embark on your own journey as a leader of prayer and song."
- Aaron Bisman, co-founder & President, JDUB

"Joey Weisenberg has his finger on the pulse of today's "independent minyanim." In Building Singing Communities he shows us how to re-imagine the two core elements of your shul: building community and making music that enhances that community. There is so much here from which we can all learn. I highly recommend this book to professionals and laity alike."
-Hazzan Henry Rosenblum
Forest Hills Jewish Center
Former dean of the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary

"This book is more than an instruction manual: It is an expression of a philosophy-one in which musical quality truly matters, and to which we can all contribute. It is my hope that this book (like so many of Joey's classes at Mechon Hadar and elsewhere) will inspire Jews of diverse and varied backgrounds to take singing and davening more seriously, and to recognize the power and beauty that they will unleash when they pool their musical energies-even as they direct their hearts towards their own unique and personal prayer."
-Rabbi Elie Kaunfer
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Mechon Hadar

"Joey Weisenberg, a brilliant musician and teacher, is a joyous, dancing, infectious soul who inspires and makes others feel Gd's presence. In this wonderful book Joey guides us all, teaching us to lead, to follow, to join and connect with each other in prayer and in song, in order to reach Beyond."
- Elli Kranzler M.D.
Singer Songwriter
Shaliach Tzibbur, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale  
Contact us

mechon hadar logo

 190 Amsterdam Avenue (@69th Street), New York, NY 10023

Phone: (646) 770-1468

All classes are held at Yeshivat Hadar unless otherwise noted.

Find us on Facebook