GREETINGS FROM SSM DIRECTOR BRUCE RUBEN
First, I want to thank those SSM Alumni who graciously gave their time and talent to participate in the very successful "Debbie and Friends" concert on November 12 to sing in the alumni choir, organized by Judi Rowland. They added greatly to what was a remarkable evening. Please know that the concert garnered over $300,000 for the school. We are able to subsidize voice lessons, hire additional faculty, and host master classes for our students.
I welcome this opportunity to share some of the exciting developments in the evolving core curriculum of the SSM. We are creating a new integrated liturgical core. The second year students are studying Shabbat in this way. They take simultaneous courses in Traditional and Contemporary Shabbat repertoire, Shabbat liturgy, and modes. This model will be continued in the third year with the High Holy Days and in the fourth with the Festivals and Life Cycle. So, for instance, while the second year students were studying Kabbalat Shabbat nusach with Faith Steinsnyder, they were also learning the Contemporary repertoire with Benjie Ellen Schiller. Mark Kligman was explaining the characteristics of Hashem Malakh mode and I was discussing the structure, history, and theological themes of the Kabbalat Shabbat liturgy.
A couple of vignettes from this semester will hopefully give you some sense of this exciting new approach. One second year student gave a presentation on the cosmology implicit in the Maariv Aravim prayer, creating a diagram of the world as understood by its creators. Then another student discussed the problem of how we can still find relevance in the text in a post-Copernican world. One student in class exclaimed that the discussion transformed her understanding of the prayer. Another student gave a detailed musical analysis of various settings of V'shamru, noting the mode employed, its characteristic motifs, the harmonic implications of the melody as it moved to different tonal centers, and the choices that each composer made to highlight words in the text.
We require the students to teach in class because they will ultimately be teachers of liturgy and nusach in their congregations. We also ask them to give an introduction to their practica to orient the audience to the liturgical music that they will be performing. Of course, they take a year of education courses and music education as well. As we move more and more towards the model of cantor as co-clergy, we expect our students to be able to teach as well as learn the vast cantorial corpus.
If you feel that you would like to have experienced this approach to cantorial education, to freshen or sharpen your skills, please know that it is possible for you, as alumni, to do so at a minimal cost. If you live in the Tri-state area, you are welcomed to take a course on your day off. Those further away can plan a sabbatical and use that time to immerse yourselves in some of the new offerings of the school. Beyond the liturgical core, you can take orchestration with Jonathan Comisar, Technology for Clergy with Erik Contzius, or composition with Gerald Cohen. In fact, Erik will be teaching a three week Technology intensive starting May 24. This course is available for alumni. Please contact me if you are interested in finding out about this opportunity.
I look forward to seeing many of you in Memphis.
Best wishes, Bruce
THE SSMAA LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
Claire Franco, Chair and Invest in a Student Co-Chair
Emilie Coopersmith, Vice Chair
Charles Romalis, Immediate Past Chair
Fredda Mendelson, Secretary and Council of Alumni Associations Representative
Dana Anesi, Council of Alumni Associations Chair and Board of Governors Representative
Joanna Alexander, Council of Alumni Associations Representative and Invest in a Student Co-Chair
Programming Working Group:
Kerith Spencer Shapiro, Co-chair
Jacqueline Shuchat-Marx, Co-chair
Sandy Sherry Pilatsky
Recruitment Working Group:
Ross Wolman, Co-chair
David Reinwald, Co-chair
Outreach to Students Working Group:
Joanna Alexander, Co-Chair
Elizabeth Sacks, Acting Co-chair
Samantha Natov, Co-chair on leave
Honorary Doctorate Advisory Working Group:
Vicki Axe, Chair
Bruce Ruben, SSM Director - Executive and Recruitment Working Group
Benjie-Ellen Schiller, SSM Faculty - Honorary Doctorate Advisory Working Group
Faith Joy Dantowitz, NY Regional Director of Admissions and Recruitment - Recruitment Working Group
Joy Wasserman, National Director of Alumni Affairs
Adelle Nicholson, Coordinator
YOU ARE INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE SSMAA
Our working groups welcome your involvement. There are many projects that we can do if we have your help. For example - we can enhance the SSM music library, we can organize more ShirFun events, we can increase our continuing education options, and the list goes on. Please consider serving the SSM Alumni Association. If you are interested, please contact coordinator Adelle Nicholson at 954-456-4312 or email@example.com. Here are some of the areas of our work:
The Programming Working Group takes on projects to benefit the alumni. The PWG plans the alumni breakfast at the ACC convention, arranges opportunities for continuing alumni education and organizes ShirFun social events in our various regional areas.
The Recruitment Working Group works very closely with the College-Institute. Admissions and Recruitment staff and the SSM Director attend our meetings. We brainstorm ideas and support the SSM and the College-Institute in recruitment efforts. We have recommended alumni as recruitment ambassadors and are creating an online manual to assist them in their work. We make presentations at Hava Nashira and other Jewish musical and Reform venues.
The Outreach to Students Working Group serves the SSM students, and is generally comprised of NYC metropolitan area alumni. This group reaches out to students in many different ways: events, letters, gifts, and other worthy projects that benefit the students and connect them to the Alumni Association.
The Honorary Doctorate Working Group discusses the candidacies of those coming up for their honorary doctorates in the following year and makes recommendations to the College-Institute’s Committee on Honors.
The Nominations Working Group meets once every two years to make recommendations to the Executive for the positions of Chair and Vice-Chair.
PLEASE UPDATE YOUR CONTACT INFO ON THE ALUMNI DIRECTORY
Looking for an old friend or lost classmate? You can find any HUC alum in the online directory. Simply go to www.huc.edu/alumni/private/. Since the directory is password protected, please contact Adelle Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org for the username and password.
Have you moved, changed jobs, married, or had children? Please check your contact data, to make sure that it is current and up to date.
DR. MARK KLIGMAN RECOGNIZED BY THE ASSOCIATION FOR JEWISH STUDIES
The Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Committee has designated Dr. Mark Kligman's Maqam and Liturgy: Ritual, Music, and Aesthetics of Syrian Jews in Brooklyn as a 2009 Notable Selection in the category of Jews and the Arts. To read more, go to:
To read more in depth about Dr. Kligman’s book, go to:
BOOK ROYALTIES DONATED TO THE SSM
The SSM is grateful to Indiana University Professor of Jewish Culture Judah M. Cohen, who is donating all royalties of his book The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor: Musical Authority, Cultural Investment to the SSM. To read a review of the book, go to: