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Hillel Society President Benji Berlow ’06 (Palmerton, Pa.) and other students are recording a CD of Hebrew ballads for the society’s weekly Friday evening services. It will be available for all students as a way to learn the songs.

Although most of the music has been recorded, finishing touches are being made to the selections before transferring them to CD.

Jessica Lenza ’05 (Hackettstown, N.J.), a double major in music and religious studies, is singing lead vocals and Berlow is accompanying her on guitar and singing on some of the tracks, which include “V’shamru,” “Lo Yisa Goy,” “Kol Honshama,” and “Sh’ma.” The CD includes English translations of the lyrics as well as transliteration from Hebrew to English.

“It’s pretty exciting to think that we are close to having a professionally recorded CD,” says Lenza, who hopes to become a cantor someday.

“I love Jewish music, and find my own spirituality when I play during services,” says Berlow, a psychology major. “Many people have told me on various occasions that the services have opened them up to a different and invigorating style of service that tries to be as inclusive as possible.”

There are 100 active members of Lafayette’s Hillel Society chapter, which sponsors religious, cultural, and social events. Although Hillel is a Jewish organization, any member of Lafayette and its extended community is invited to participate. The society’s weekly services are held at 4:30 p.m. Fridays and are followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m.

“I love that our Hillel attracts a lot of non-Jewish members and I think that this CD will encourage even more people to come and be a part of Hillel, even if they’ve never had an experience with the Jewish community,” Lenza says.

During each Friday service, participants sing Hebrew songs to prepare for the Shabbat (known by some as Sabbath). Then, traditional blessings set the stage for the rest of the evening. These blessings include those for the candles, wine, hand washing, challah bread, and after the meal.

“I hope that the CD helps people who aren’t familiar with the songs that we sing feel a little more comfortable coming to Hillel and participating in services,” says Lenza, who will perform in the College Theater production of You Can’t Take it with You and is a member of the Cadence female a cappella group.

Robert Weiner, Jones Professor of History and Jewish chaplain, suggested creating the CD, which should be available this spring.

In addition to Berlow, officers in Lafayette’s Hillel Society are Jenna Firshein ’08 (Teaneck, N.J.), first-year liaison; biochemistry major David Fishman ’07 (Pittsford, N.Y.), secretary of publicity; David Greenberg ’06 (Sparta, N.J.), who is pursuing a B.S. computer science degree and an A.B. with a major in mathematics-economics, treasurer; chemistry major Sarah Kahn ’06 (Wellesley, Mass.), social action chair; psychology major Amy Kalenscher ’06 (Massapequa, N.Y.), religious chair; Danielle Koupf’08 (Randolph, N.J.), secretary of communications; Sara Kreisel ’07 (North Bellmore, N.Y.), who is pursuing a B.S. biology degree and an A.B. with a major in art, vice president; and psychology major Emily Langsam ’06 (Armonk, N.Y.), social chair.

Categorized in: Students