Music @ SWFS

Located in the heart of the Lincoln Center area, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue has a rich and historically significant music tradition. The congregation is known for having an innovative and engaging approach to worship while offering an expansive array of music programs that explore all genres of sacred and secular Jewish music, both historical and contemporary in nature.

The study of Torah, prayer, and acts of loving kindness are at the core of congregational involvement at SWFS. Music programming reflects these values in meaningful ways. Here are some brief descriptions of some of the burgeoning music programs and resources that you may enjoy at SWFS:

Kol Zimra: When you become a member of SWFS, you will be given a complimentary CD. The CD will help you to become more well acquainted with our Shabbat service and liturgy. The recording was sponsored, engineered, and produced by SWFS's own talented and accomplished audio/visual producer, Ziv Sidi in memory of Litai Doron Sidi (1982-2001) who was killed during military service in Israel. Learn more about Kol Zimra.

Shabbat services at SWFS are very engaging with moments of joyous participation as well as meditation and reflection. Music is at the heart of our services, and services are at the heart of life at SWFS. It is where we build community and where you have an opportunity to develop relationships with other members and people from the greater New York community. Please listen to these short clips of selections from the CD to get a small idea of what our services are like. Also learn more about our musicians - Gilad Cohen, Colin Fowler, Shoshana Kaye, Dave Keen, and Matt Temkin. But the only real way to know Shabbat at SWFS is to be here and experience it for yourself. All are welcome!

Prayers and Songs for the Sabbath: This historical recording released on RCA Victor Red Seal Records is the original service from the 1940's featuring Stephen S. Wise and A.W. Binder with the Free Synagogue Choir. It includes Evelyn Sachs (Contralto), and Lawrence Davidson (Baritone) as soloists with Alexander Richardson (Organist) accompanying. This musical tradition is being preserved through the Sunday Sacred Music Series in partnership with the School of Sacred Music at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. Read more about the Musical History of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, then listen and learn through our recordings and attend our phenomenal music programs.

The Ba'al Koreh Program: Learn to become not only proficient, but a master of chanting from the Torah, Haftarah, and Megillot. Lay involvement in chanting sacred texts is a very important part of spiritual life at SWFS, and the congregation has built a growing and active network of talented congregants who take the art very seriously. Practice together in a relaxed small classroom setting, take some private coachings, and try applying your skills throughout the calendar year. Learn more about this program and get involved!

The Free Community Chorus at Stephen Wise: Sing Freely at SWFS! You don't have to be a member of the congregation to participate in this community-wide program. Choral participation is designed to accommodate those who are yearning to sing a wide variety of challenging and engaging music without being required to sing at synagogue services. The choir performs at the synagogue's Music Series, participates in Musical Mitzvahs at area nursing homes, and performs at a number other venues including choral festivals and elsewhere. Whether you're a member of a synagogue that doesn't have a choir or you're not a member of a synagogue and just love to sing, this is the group for you. Learn more about this program and get involved!

The Music Series: Come to listen and learn about Cantorial Classics, Yiddish Theater, Folk, and Art Song, Klezmer, Ragtime, Spirituals, Cabaret, Chamber Music, Jazz, Opera, Israeli and Jewish Rock, and much more. The programming is balanced to reach out to the broadest possible audience of both religious and secular backgrounds. Come to hear renowned guest performers and lecturers as they explore Jewish music and musical Jews.

Norman Roth's Annual Purim Shpiel Extravaganza! Already in its 22nd year of production, this incredible production has drawn standing-room only crowds to our 1000 seat sanctuary! SWFS congregant, Norman Roth, an incredibly clever and talented playwright and stage director, has created a fantastic new show every year involving congregants, clergy, and members of the greater community. Come early for the "Gantze Megillah" Reading (participate in any language!) and stay around for Norman Roth's Purim Shpiel! His shpiels are loved and performed throughout the world, but the only place to see and be involved in the premiere production is by being at SWFS! Learn more about this program and get involved!

Online Music Resources: Whether you are learning music in the nursery school, religious school, high school, or our many adult education programs at SWFS, or if you are just surfing the web looking for a simple interactive resource for learning Jewish music, prayers, and blessings, MUSIC @ SWFS will soon be your one-stop shop. As our web capabilities continue to increase, members and non-members will have access to a wealth of resources to help connect with the SWFS community and the greater Jewish community through music learning. Keep visiting this site to watch as it develops. Learn more about this program and get involved!

Bosendorfer Logo

SWFS: The Newest and Largest Bosendorfer Venue In Manhattan! If you have attended services at SWFS, whether it was the High Holidays or one of our typically festive Shabbat services, you probably heard something special about the sound of our music ensemble. SWFS is now the proud owner of one of the most distinctive pianos in the world, a Bosendorfer Imperial concert grand piano. The combination of our piano, hall, and location are perfect elements for developing an appealing Jewish Music Center in Manhattan with opportunities for hall rental for rehearsals, recordings, and performances by some of the world's greatest artists. Stay informed about more musical developments as they unfold as a result of this inspiring new instrument, and be sure to visit the Bosendorfer New York Website to see our synagogue's logo featured on their front page!

Zimra!: For religious school students from first to sixth grade, this fun and energetic junior choir is integrated into the school's music curriculum so that all students are learning and rehearsing the same music together for maximum participation. Alternating with a junior prayer service called Tefila, students learn the difference between prayer and performance with Cantor Singer. Students are asked to participate in special performances and prayer services, including Dreidel Day, the Purim Shpiel, and more. Learn more about this program and get involved!

EC-Singers! and ECC Music: Music is a crucial part of every child's development, particularly at the nursery school level in the Early Childhood Center. Fun songs are combined with movement to foster and develop Jewish identity, memory, Hebrew and English language skills, social skills, and connection to the SWFS synagogue community. Children learn music during the week and enjoy Shabbat services and sing-a-longs with family, friends, Rabbi Hirsch and Cantor Singer. Learn more about this program and get involved!

SWFS hosts concerts and recitals that enhance our experience and understanding of art, culture, and ritual through musical performance and education.

Please join us for these wonderful programs. We look forward to seeing you at Stephen Wise Free Synagogue!


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