Rabbi Sets a Message to Music

By Sarah Kricheff

Published November 11, 2005, issue of November 11, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Shawn Zevit is practicing what he preaches. A Philadelphia-based Reconstructionist rabbi who serves as a visiting rabbi at Pittsburgh’s Congregation Dor Hadash, Zevit is also a singer, songwriter and guitarist with two full-length CDs to his credit.

With musical influences ranging from The Beatles to indie rock, from soul to R&B, Zevit’s new album, “Sanctuary,” is less liturgically based than his first CD, “Heart and Soul.” But Zevit still calls “Sanctuary” a “Jewish soul record” that explores spirituality and reflects his personal connection with God.

In addition to writing and performing music, Zevit is the author of a recently published book about giving, “Offerings of the Heart: Money and Values in Faith Communities” (Alban Institute) — a practical guide for clergy and lay leaders that draws on traditional and contemporary texts to explore the relationship between Judaism and the use of money as a spiritual tool to help others in need.

“The book and the CD take a holistic approach,” Zevit told the Forward. “I want to send the message that art is personally moving and socially transformative.”

So how does a singing rabbi bridge his roles as a spiritual leader, teacher, writer and performer? For Zevit, the answer is simple: He utilizes his musical talents as a means to raise funds for worthy causes and promote social awareness. On November 2, Zevit performed songs from “Sanctuary” in a Philadelphia concert at Tin Angel. Ten percent of the night’s CD sales were donated to victims of Hurricane Katrina through a relief fund that is a combined effort of The Shefa Fund and the Jewish Fund for Justice. With some 50 people in the audience, the event raised several hundred dollars and provided information to attendees in the hope of encouraging them to play more active roles in their communities.

Zevit said that all the performances he’s done in the past six or seven years “have involved some element of tzedaka” — connecting the theme of his book with the theme of his music.

“Writing the book is a challenge for me to live its message,” he said, “and it’s made me more cognizant of its message.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.