HUC-JIR Faculty, Students, and Alumni Participate in Hava Nashira, the Annual Songleading and Music Workshop

Monday, June 2, 2008

(Some of the HUC-JIR faculty, students, and alumni who attended Hava Nashira. Front row: Rollin Simmons, Zöe Jacobs, Cantor Jennifer Frost, Debbie Friedman, Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Merri Arian, Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz, Rabbi Larry Karol, Cantor Rosalie Boxt, Cantor Jeff Klepper. Back row: Cantor Ross Wolman, Cantor Todd Kipnis, Rabbi Ken Chasen, Rabbi Audrey Pollack)


Hava Nashira, the Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) annual songleading and music workshop, was held at the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin May 27th through June 1st. The workshop, now in its 17th year, was created by HUC-JIR faculty member Debbie Friedman and Cantor Jeff Klepper, SSM '80. HUC-JIR faculty member Merri Arian currently directs the program. 

Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz, Director of Admissions and Recruitment at HUC-JIR/NY, attended the conference to meet with future HUC-JIR students and recruit for the College-Institute. Other HUC-JIR faculty, students, and alumni, reflected on their weekend. 

Debbie Friedman, HUC-JIR Instructor in Music, says, "The sounds of Hava Nashira live inside of me all year and I look forward every year to the next year when we can celebrate all that we are capable of creating. It is magical and spiritual; beautiful and majestic." 

HUC-JIR student Rollin Simmons says, "This was my first year at Hava Nashira, and it was truly a privilege to be in the presence of so much greatness all at once. It was four full days of learning music and stories and participating in a caring and thoughtful community." 

Rabbi Larry Karol, C '81, says, "When I first attended Hava Nashira in 1999, I was one of a handful of rabbis among the 90 participants present. The size of the community has grown over that time, as has the breadth and depth of the programming. Sessions have always been relevant, thought-provoking, and inspiring. Hava Nashira 2008 likely featured the largest group of HUC-JIR alumni in attendance, offering us a chance to recognize the musical connection - cantors, rabbis, educators, and worship leaders - that brings us together." 

Cantor Todd Kipnis, SSM '07, says, "I learned effective repertoire for all ages of children and adults. I learned skills and successful models for Tot Shabbat and worship for young children, and ideas for working with youth and adult volunteer choirs. I met and began forming relationships with some of the most popular modern Jewish songwriters of the Reform Movement, and met wonderful songleaders who also had many great ideas to share." 

For more information on Hava Nashira, visit

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.