Top Five

Jackson Mercer

Song leader
URJ Camp Newman, UCLA student
San Rafael, California
Age: 21
Nominated by: Rachel Mercer
Song: “Lech Lecha,” Jackson Mercer

Perhaps it is the ultimate act of a Jewish mother to nominate her own son, but he was song-leading up at Camp Newman with limited Internet access [during this nomination process,] so here goes.

Jewish music saved my son. Truly. Through Jewish music he was able face the dark, scary places deep inside each of us and find HaShem in the nigguns, melodies and words. Jewish music gave him permission to feel deeply and follow his passion. For the last nine years he has been song leading, first at the synagogue on Sunday mornings, then at Camp Newman. He inspires the littlest camper and the surliest teenager through his honesty and love of music. — Rachel Mercer

INFLUENCES: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Damien Rice, Dan Nichols, Alan Goodis, Matisyahu, Macklemore, Hadag Nahash, Gordon Lustig, Dan Bern, David Broza, The Beach Boys.

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