More than perhaps anything else in the Jewish world, communal singing has the power to bring us together in prayer, celebration, and action. It is a central element of deepening engagement, and it can be a powerful draw for bringing new people into the community.
At the core of Sing Unto God's mission is supporting teen songleaders who want to be a part of building something bigger and better. The SUG Teen Songleader Fellowships invite young Jewish songleaders to develop their skills, deepen their knowledge of repertoire and communal singing technique, and build meaningful leadership and relationship opportunities in their congregations, camps, and communities.
During the 2023-2024 school year we have been running a North American Fellowship, with 25 teens from across North America. Their learning is guided by expert songleader and teacher Deb Winter, with support from other guest experts from the field throughout the year.
We have begun to plan seeds of regional cohorts in Cleveland, OH; in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast region; in the greater Southeast; and the Westchester/NYC area. If you are interested learning more about these regional cohorts, click here. We are grateful to clergy and donors who have helped to underwrite these programs as well.
SUG songleaders learn so much more than how to be great performers. They learn how to collaboratively build and support strong, sustainable communities filled with song.
North American Fellowship
This prestigious, application-only, 8-month Fellowship for teens across North America included:
A three-day retreat for in-person learning, November 3-5, 2023 in Atlanta, GA. During the retreat, organized by Program Director Deb Winter, Fellowship participants practiced their skills by leading worship services for the congregation and religious school music classes for the school at The Templ , receiving useful feedback from peers and professionals to aid their growth in real time. Room and board were provided (in home hospitality), and travel subsidies were available.
8 virtual learning sessions, scheduled monthly from October through May on a Sunday afternoon/evening. Fellows continue to learn from subject experts on topics such as prayer and teen leadership, teaching new repertoire, pedagogy of leading music with different age groups, religious school music and strategy, working with adult clergy and professionals, how to memorize songs, how to choose repertoire, how to pivot and have "back-pocket" plans, and more.
Support from a local, on-the-ground mentor. Each Fellow chose or was assigned an adult mentor (clergy or educator) from within their local community, who provides leadership feedback, professional development and support throughout the year.
A network of peer songleaders across North America. This Fellowship is an opportunity to build networks and friendships to last well beyond the Fellowship year, as Fellows grow with and learn from a group of like-minded teens who share a love of Jewish community and music.
The development of professional relationships with connected Jewish community leaders and educators across North America and around the world who can be valuable contacts and resources on an emerging leaders career journey.
Thanks to a generous underwriter, the cost of the North American fellowship was only $180. This included the retreat in Atlanta, all of the zoom sessions, mentoring and support. Congregations or clergy often have funds to sponsor a teen's registration (it should benefit them as well!), perhaps families might pay, or additional support is available from Sing Unto God, if needed.
The fellowship taught me so many new skills for songleading that have been extremely helpful in my songleading journey and now it is something that I do regularly with my synagogue.The retreat especially was such a beneficial experience for me. In addition to being fun, I learned so much from being around talented teens that all shared the same love for music and songleading.
- Aviva, '22 - '23
The 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
The North American Fellowship is generously underwritten by the Suzanne D. and Stanley A. Racoosin Fund for Jewish Music.