Over the past few years we have spoken with Jewish community leaders from camps, congregations, and organizations who struggle to find songleaders for their specific programs or events.
Even more concerning, we have learned that the wider local community in many parts of the North America are lacking a pipeline of songleaders for day camps, overnight camps, religious school music, early childhood programs and youth events.
In response, we ran a Teen Songleader Retreat for Metro NYC this February 2024 for 7 teens from New Jersey, Queens, Westchester, and Ithaca NY.
This cohort included:
February 2-4, 2024: a Weekend Retreat at Woodlands Community Temple in White Plains: The teens led worship for the congregation, spent time learning things like how to successfully teach a song, learned new repertoire, created programming, gained confidence, and led religious school music, with other teens who share a love of singing Jewish music. Home hospitality and meals were provided. We also spend a lovely evening watching a master teacher and songleader, with our friend Rachel Chang.
The teens will now engage in mentoring and teaching from local experts in songleading, worship leading, religious school leading and community building. We will help match each teen to a leader in a home congregation, camp or community, or someone local with whom to continue the work.
We will offer optional 2 - 3 Monthly Check-ins between March and June. These will be on zoom for all the teens in the Metro NYC Cohort who wish to join us to check in on progress, reconnect with new friends, and celebrate songleading wins!
Thanks to generous underwriting from clergy partners, the cost for the Teen Songleader Fellowship for Metro NYC was $145, which included attendance at the retreat in February as well as all the learning sessions throughout the remainder of the year.
More about the Fellowships:
SUG Regional Teen Songleader cohorts are designed to provide on-site mentorship from a local songleading mentor who can visit each teen where they songlead, work with each teen to establish success metrics for the year, and, most importantly, connect their mentee with organizations, institutions, and communities within their region to support their professional development.
A key component of each regional fellowship is that each host community will use their cohort of teens to provide music in more communal gatherings. This has the dual benefit of giving teens more on the ground experience leading with people, and it increases the amount of singing that happens in Jewish communal spaces.
All of this means that teen songleaders, supported in growing skills to lead religious school music, will be better trained and better positioned to fill a need in a local JCC camp next summer, to lead musical experiences for the Federation's Israel program, give a more complete Taste of Camp, or deepen the meaning of a communal day of action.
The support for our staff, teachers, programming on the ground, outreach and mentorship is made possible from generous gifts from clergy who are passionate about pipelining and nurtuing young songleaders.
We thank: Rabbis Michael White, Rob Nosanchuk, Ken Chasen, Judith Siegal, Ben David, Micah Greenstein, Peter Berg and Dan Levin and Cantors Danielle Rodnizki, Brad Hyman, Irena Altshul, Jennifer Frost, Alexander Kurland, Tracey Scher, Lori Shapiro, Amanda Kleinman, Ross Wolman, Billy Tiep and Shanna Zell.
The Sing Unto God Fellowship gave me not only the opportunity to learn new repertoire with young songleaders from across the nation, but more importantly the skills to teach, play, and lead Jewish music in settings ranging from Shabbat services to a Kindergarten classroom.
- Ben, '22-'23 Participant
SUG Teen Songleader Fellowships give teens the training, experience, and confidence needed to:
Find their own voice as a Jewish leader
Develop comfort in front of a room
Teach both new and familiar songs
Sing with and lead diverse age groups
Partner with congregational professionals
Develop the requisite skills of analysis, process, feedback-gathering and self-reflection
SUG Regional Fellowships are generously underwritten by the cantors and rabbis who are passionate about supporting teens.