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Song and the Power to Connect

02/11/2022 09:46:34 AM


“I live to sing,” said community song leader, Marv Zauderer from his home in San Rafael. Marv, a Rodef Sholom member of ten years, created the Kehilla Song Circle in October 2021. Marv leads the song circle, where all ages, expertise and voices are welcome. Marv’s mission for the song circle is to “help transform singing into a unifying force in our communities,” and he does just that. This week I chatted with Marv as he explained the importance of music in his life, where his love for music blossomed, and his top musical inspiration. The next session is Sunday, February 27, check it out at @singwithmarv and

How does music and Judaism connect to you?
I learned to lead services in Hebrew school starting when I was nine years old. In high school I learned to sing Hebrew and Jewish songs at Camp Swig, located in Silicon Valley. Music, singing and Judaism have always been deeply intertwined for me. As an undergrad at Cal (Berkeley) I lived at the Berkeley Bayit, a Jewish cooperative where 11 people lived together. It was an open home for community events and activities. So much of what we did on Shabbat was singing. Both my daughters were Tawonga Campers where singing is so much part of the camp experience. Singing became a connecting thing for us as well in our family.

Why did you start the Kehilla Song circle?
At a time when so many of us needed to add more community to our lives, singing has a unique power to connect to each other and something larger than ourselves. Plus it’s just fun!

Favorite artist?
Hard to not name the Beatles.

How has the pandemic affected your song circle?
Before Covid, I was singing so much with so many people in person, when Covid hit all that went away. Like many of us, I was feeling bereft. So, when it became clear we could start to sing again with each other outside, I wanted to make that happen for myself and for as many people as possible.

What instruments do you play?
I am learning guitar, and have been playing the shruti box, which is an Indian instrument, related to the harmonium. It is a bellows instrument that you squeeze and it makes these wonderful sounds.

Who is your biggest musical influence?
Debbie Friedman was a spiritual giant in the Jewish community. She not only wrote her own songs, but set many of the prayers and writings to the Jewish liturgy to new melodies. She single handedly transformed experiences both at summer camps, and at synagogues around the country and the world. At Rodef Sholom’s services we sing a number of her songs and melodies. I started singing her songs in high school and at Camp Swig, and still do to this day.

What is a tool or tip you have for anyone who wants to become more involved in music and singing?
Unfortunately, many of us were told by others or sometimes ourselves, that our singing voice isn’t good enough and we should hide it. The Rodef Sholom song circle is a safe place for everyone to allow their voice to be just as it is. At the song circle, we make it easy to both learn and sing wonderful songs together. I teach all songs in the oral tradition, as in “call and response”. So no need to read music, therefore we can relax into the songs as we sing. I choose English language songs that rejuvenate, soothe and inspire. The selections include mostly songs by contemporary folk songwriters and sometimes old favorites . All voices are welcome, no singing experience required.

The Song Circle is Sunday, February 27, 3:30-5:00 outside in the courtyard at Rodef Sholom, with vaccination and mask required. People can sign up by going to  

Thu, February 2 2023 11 Sh'vat 5783