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Chanukah Choir Band circa 1980

Tonight is the eighth night of chanukah, and to celebrate I want to share the cassette-to-mp3 transfer of my parents recording of me and my sister in our school’s choir. We gave a performance with the U.S. Navy Band back in 1980 that I still think was rather excellent. From the back cover of another album I have, the choir director, “Leah Lipman, studied music at Brooklyn College and the University of Maryland where she earned her Bachelor’s degree. She majored in voice and composition with piano her principal instrument. In New York, she sang with the Zamir Chorale, taught in public and private schools, and worked as a music specialist for Project Head Start.”

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Mrs. Lipman gave me my first chance at musical expression back in first grade. I lost track of her after second. I really appreciate her work back then and I think it still stands out, especially in comparison with the schlocky performances of other Day School Choirs from the 1980s like the god-awful Miami Boys Choir. Here’s a streaming link for listening, and you can download the individual mp3s from this directory.

If you like this, definitely check out the album Leah Lipman released two years earlier (1978), one of the most beautiful Jewish records I own (and I’ve been questing for non-schlocky Jewish records a long time!).

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UPDATE : I just got off the phone with Leah (thank you Internets!) and she shared with me some wonderful stories regarding the record. It was produced on a $3000 budget at a time during a very stressful period where had just recently given birth. Two of the song tunes were original “Ani Ma’amin” and “Mahtai Yihyeh Shalom” and composed by Leah. The accordionist was Pinchas Zahavi. Leah retired from the Hebrew Academy in 1997. She’s still somewhat active in the music scene in Silver Spring, MD, organizing women’s concerts within the Orthodox Jewish community and teaching her grandchildren piano.

About Aharon N. Varady


Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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