Rabbi Harold Schulweis envisioned that “A Community that Sings Together, Stays Together.” Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Michelle Green Willner, the Los Angeles Jewish Community Children’s Choir brings together Jewish children from across Los Angeles to celebrate their Judaism through song. For the past seven years, the LA JCCC has been performing all around LA, bringing the joy of Jewish music to their community and beyond. Graciously supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the choir has performed for hundreds to thousands, including: the Staples Center for LA Clippers and LA Kings games; the Saban Theater; Museum of Tolerance; LA Museum of the Holocaust; to Sinai Temple’s annual multi-generational Hanukkah In Song; the Ford Amphitheater with the LA Jewish Symphony; and many more.
With discussions about Jewish holidays, Jewish history, and Israel, singers prepare for upcoming concerts as they learn the relevance of the music that they’ll be performing and sharing with others. Ranging in age from seven through fifteen, the singers represent a true cross-section of the Jewish community. Its membership is diverse, both denominationally and geographically, comprised of children in home¬schools, public schools, private Jewish day schools and charter schools. For some of these students, the JCCC is their only connection to Jewish culture. The purpose of the JCCC is manifold; socially, befriending children from all sectors of the Jewish community and generating tolerance and respect between them; educationally, teaching children how specific Jewish texts relate to their Jewish heritage; musically, how to read music, how to sing properly with great musicianship and how to perform professionally; and personally, to enhance each child’s self-esteem, deportment, and Jewish consciousness. The students sing in a number of languages, including, but not limited to, Hebrew, English, Yiddish, Ladino, Spanish and French. By performing for varied audiences and programs, the children have an opportunity to explore Judaism in all its facets.
One example is little Lev, a young Russian boy who had no Jewish cultural background, knew no Hebrew, but seemed to enjoy singing. When Lev had his first solo a number of years ago, singing in front of an audience of over 500, his parents were awestruck at his happiness, musicianship, and pronunciation, and they were moved to tears hearing their son singing Jewish music in Hebrew and learning about his Jewish heritage. Although this happened a few years ago, Lev now also sings in the LA JCCC chamber choir, and, has specifically chosen to sing Hebrew songs in each singing competition that he has entered!
The slogan “A Community that Sings Together Says Together” rings true as singers and their respective parents have increased their pride, appreciation and involvement within the Jewish community and have learned that there is a rich diversity within the Jewish faith.