With the presidential election closing in, the music group at Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead decided to create a show of unity and peace in the face of the fractured political atmosphere.
“We were all feeling the tension and divisiveness in the world and we wanted to do something,” said Amy Saltz, percussionist. The “Sing-In,” scheduled for the day after Election Day, will feature songs of peace from the 60’s and 70’s in an effort to unite the community, led by the local group, “Jewish Music Neighborhood.”
A rehearsal was held on October 19 at Temple Emanu-El in which a group of about 20 community members attended to sing along with “Jewish Music Neighborhood.” The temple stage was decorated with a fall-inspired Chuppah featuring corn stocks, autumn colored leaves and flowers.
John Nelson, the temple’s music specialist who seemed particularly music savvy, played acoustic guitar. He was able to change key, adapt to chords and lead the group in song. “He’s incredibly creative, talented, and inclusive,” said Saltz. Among the 22 songs practiced were “All You Need Is Love,” “Across the Universe,” and “Down By the Riverside,” with some Hebrew lyrics. Before singing “Down By the Riverside,” Nelson addressed the crowd playfully. “This is what all the kids are listening to these days, right?” he asked.
Two other members of “Jewish Music Neighborhood,” Judy Mishkin who plays the keyboard, and Saltz, a percussionist who plays multiple instruments, played alongside him. Special guest Cheryl Boots, the music specialist at St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, also accompanied the group. “Jewish Music Neighborhood,” which meets one Wednesday per month, practiced their songs with members of the community, adjusted a key here and there, and tapped their feet to the beat.
“These are songs from the 60s and 70s that were supposed to inspire peace and togetherness, and hopefully that’s what it will do the day after the election,” said Saltz. Regardless of age, faith, or musical ability, all are welcome. “We are singing for joy and musical spirituality, it’s more for fun and to be able to participate,” said Saltz.
The inspiration for this event was found when the group attended the Salem Fireworks Orchestra and heard music from “Hair.” “We loved it,” said Saltz. Arlyne Rosenberg, a member of the group, was reminded of John Lennon and Yoko’s “Love-In” and Saltz came up with the idea to create a riff called a “Sing-In.” She went to Rabbi David Meyer with the idea and he was immediately receptive. “He was so instrumental in putting this together,” said Saltz.
Having been part of the Congregation Chorus in the past, Saltz already had connections around the community for an interfaith choir. She sent out an email to all local houses of worship; some expressed interest, and Garry Watzke attended the rehearsal from the Christian Lutheran Church. More are expected to attend, and all are welcome to participate in an activity to promote unity and respect during what Saltz calls contentious and divisive times.
The “Sing-In” will be held on November 9 at 7 p.m. in the social hall of Temple Emanu-El, 393 Atlantic Ave. in Marblehead with light refreshments served.