Youth Engagement in the Jewish Day School Recording Studio



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The Alfred & Adele Davis Academy, Atlanta’s Reform Jewish Day School, just released our 2nd album of original Jewish music. Called, A Palace in Time, the album features 18 original musical compositions written by the school’s rabbi, Micah Lapidus, and performed by Davis Academy Middle School students and faculty. The album booklet contains 18 beautiful pieces of original Jewish art created by Davis Academy Middle School students.

This unique project –there are no other Jewish day schools that currently create albums of original Jewish music – demonstrates the profound power of engaging Jewish adolescents in the formation of new Jewish culture. Why does The Davis Academy support this type of work? How do we do it? And what is the impact?

As a school, we are committed to a dual obligation: passing on the richness of Jewish tradition and authoring the next chapter. We support this kind of work because we want our students to understand, on the basis of experience, that Judaism is a creative, active, and dynamic entity that values their unique voices and talents. We support this kind of work because we know that it engages the creativity, imagination, and talent of our youth.

Creating a professional album of original Jewish music and Jewish art requires the commitment and support of all aspects of an organization. There’s a financial piece, but more importantly, this is the result of logistics, planning, and teamwork across our organization. In order to do something like this there are a couple of key components. There must be a clearly identified project manager and that person must have the support of his/her supervisor. Something like creating an album isn’t part of a typical job description so there also needs to be a clear understanding that a project like this will require time and energy that would otherwise be directed toward more traditional duties and responsibilities.

To achieve this, it is helpful to have a conversation about the organization’s goals. The project manager should be responsible for project-based tasks, such as sticking to the budget, but most importantly, an effective project manager will build a team of colleagues that are excited to participate and lend their talents and passions. The more people who touch a project like this, the more likely the project will be successful and be something that truly belongs to a community and not an individual.

The impact of our two albums is very exciting. Here are a few different points to consider:

  • We’ve engaged dozens of Jewish adolescents in exciting and authentic ways by having them be involved in these projects.
  • For most of the students these albums have been their first opportunity to be in a real recording studio.
  • Student artists have had the opportunity to create profoundly Jewish artistic creations that have been on display in a variety of settings including mass production for album distribution.
  • Our school sings many of the songs on the albums as part of our school-wide ceremonies, and we’ve made one music video with another in the works.
  • Our music has been performed at area synagogues, summer camps across the country, and religious schools around the world. We’ve even had some of our music performed at the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.
  • The albums have been used for promotional purposes, showing that The Davis Academy is a forward thinking and innovative school.

This list could go on.

Jewish youth need to know that Judaism is a dynamic and expansive tradition that always has and always will value cultural creativity. Those students that have chosen to participate in The Davis Academy’s two albums of original Jewish music know that they have made a meaningful contribution to the vast and unfolding cannon of Jewish culture. They are proud to have done so and hungry to continue to find opportunities within the Jewish community to let their light shine. Looking toward the future it’s easy to imagine doing more of these types of projects and getting students more fully involved in other areas from recording to songwriting, to marketing, video production and more.

 

Rabbi Micah Lapidus, Ed.D is the Director of Jewish and Hebrew Studies at The Alfred & Adele Davis Academy. He currently serves as the president of PARDES: Day Schools of Reform Judaism and holds a doctorate from Northeastern University in adolescent spirituality. He blogs frequently at “The Rabbi’s Pen.” To access complimentary downloads of The Davis Academy’s two albums: Be a Blessing (2013) and A Palace in Time (2015) click on the album titles! If you would like complimentary sheet music please email Rabbi Lapidus: mlapidus@davisacademy.org.

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One Response to “Youth Engagement in the Jewish Day School Recording Studio”

  1. avatar

    Amazingly creative and fabulous work! Fantastic music that creates an deep impact on all the children at The Davis Academy. It is sure to have positive implications for the world, as these songs create a link and inspire through the universal language of music. It is sure to be shared and enjoyed around the globe for many years to come.

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