Elements of Jewish Gospel

Elements of Jewish Gospel shares a legacy of Jewish music that is unique.  Similar to the songs that fueled the Civil Rights movement, this show introduces audiences to African-American-Jewish melodies that were sung across generations, at times of love, at times of protest, in times of faith, and despair, but chiefly as affirmations of faith in the invisible and hope in the face of adversity.  This lovely collection of ballads, spirituals, folk songs, and hip-hop testify to an adherence to justice as life’s primary directive, and to an abiding faith that injustice will not persist uncorrected. Enjoy ancient melodies inspired by biblical narratives of the Exodus, prophets, and psalms and contemporary music inspired by Rastafarian reggae, John Lennon, and India Arie.  Experience Elements of Jewish Gospel as an opportunity to claim and reclaim the tradition of integrating spirituality within the discipline of Justice.

Goals for an Elements of Jewish Gospel presentation: 

  • Provide participants with a performance of Jewish Gospel Music.
  • Utilize narrative and song to explore social justice in the context of African-American-Jewish journeying in the U.S.
  • Celebrate and expand understanding of present and historical connections between activism and spirituality.
  • Inspire students to dimensionalize their understanding of American identity and the impact of meaningful relationships formed in the name of justice across racial, religious, and cultural lines.

Goals for supplementary workshops:  

  • Provide a safe space for dialogue and discussion on the subject of racial, religious, and cultural differences in American and international communities.
  • Provide participants with practical skills and strategies for deepening relationships and creating more vibrant and inclusive communities around them.

In the Words of U.S. President Barack Obama…

The Civil Rights Movement was a movement sustained by music. It was lifted by spirituals inspired by the Bible. It was sharpened by protest songs about wrongs that needed righting. It was broadened by folk artists who captured the hardships and hopes of people who were worlds different from them, in ways that only song can do.

It was a movement with a soundtrack — diverse strains of music that coalesced when the moment was right. But that soundtrack wasn’t just inspired by the movement; it gave strength in return — a fact not lost on the movement’s leaders.

It’s been said that when Dr. King and his associates were looking for communities to organize and mobilize, they’d know which were disciplined enough and serious enough when they saw folks singing freedom songs. Dr. King himself once acknowledged that he didn’t see “the real meaning of the movement” until he saw young people singing in the face of hostility.

You see, it’s easy to sing when you’re happy. It’s easy to sing when you’re among friends. It’s easy to sing when times are good. But it is hard to sing when times are rough. It’s hard to sing in the face of taunts, and fear, and the constant threat of violence. It’s hard to sing when folks are being beaten, when leaders are being jailed, when churches are being bombed.

It’s hard to sing in times like that. But times like that are precisely when the power of song is most potent. Above the din of hatred; amidst the deafening silence of inaction; the hymns of the civil rights movement helped carry the cause of a people and advance the ideals of a nation.