The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music
Shalshelet has emerged as a singular force in the world of Jewish music. Its scope is uniquely trans-denominational and trans-generational in seeking out and encouraging creation of new music for worship and performance – music of the highest caliber, for the benefit of k’lal Israel.
Shalshelet was launched in 2003 when its three founders – Hazzan Dr. Ramón Tasat, Hazzan Natasha J. Hirschhorn, and Dr. Norma Brooks – took steps to transform an idea they shared. Accomplished musicians and composers in their own right, they had each encountered new Jewish liturgical music in “hidden” settings – music being created, sung and treasured in local communities. In some of this music they heard the inherent power of melody linked sensitively to text. Out of their collective knowledge that this music was out there, and the belief that it had the potential to enrich communal and individual experience, Shalshelet was born.
They asked themselves: what would happen if this music were to be out sought out in an active way? They were determined to cast as wide a net as possible to gather the music in all its diversity and to encourage people who did not necessarily think of themselves as composers, or who had never written before, to consider writing Jewish music. The field was opened to virtually all – with no age limits, no requirements of affiliation, training, or experience. The only stipulation was that the music had not been published or accepted for publication.
Since its founding, Shalshelet has:
- hosted five International Music Festivals, reprise concerts and a Regional Festival
- received nearly 1,500 submissions of new Jewish music from around the world
- released five CDs and published five Songbooks of Festival compositions
- held workshops around the country and internationally at congregations, music festivals, and conferences, presenting the work of Shalshelet to new audiences
Shalshelet has come to play a role that had not been imagined when it was founded. Festivals have brought diverse groups together in a spiritual community. New music has been brought to light in a stunning range of styles, coming from diverse spiritual traditions, and that music is being used in congregational communities across the spectrum of Jewish life. Shalshelet is building bridges—reaching out to Jews, affiliated and unaffiliated, across all denominations, to work together to build community and enhance spirituality through the creation and dissemination of Jewish sacred music.