Stories of Music with Rabbi Hillary Chorny: The Times They are a-Changin’ Pt. 2: Innovators & Influencers

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Stories of Music with Rabbi Hillary Chorny: The Times They are a-Changin’ Pt. 2: Innovators & Influencers



How does music reflect the American Jewish experience? What does Jewish music tell us about our identities and history? Join us to explore these questions and more through Stories of Music, an adult education project of the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, where you will have the opportunity to learn with top faculty from UCLA and the Cantors Assembly.

This Unit: The Times They are a-Changin’: Innovators & Influencers Pt. 2 [Unit 5]

Part 1 of The Times They Are A-Changin’ focused on how music has changed over the past 60 years. It explored three major forces that have influenced that change:  the introduction of the folk/rock tradition; the impact of the 1967 Six Day Way on the American Jewish community, leading to expanded ties to and interactions with Israel; and, the influence of technology in the creation and distribution of music.

Part 2 of this lesson offers three representative case studies of those whose music takes up this legacy and today stand at the forefront of an increasingly diverse Jewish American music scene. Through the examination of the lives and musical contributions of Gerald Cohen, Basya Schechter, and the leaders of Nava Tehila, we introduce three different approaches to making new Jewish music. We also explore the influence they have had on the direction of American Jewish music innovation within three larger streams in Jewish music: Western Art music (Classical), World music, and spirituality.

Through this class, the learner will understand that:

  • Musical innovations happen where communal boundaries intersect.  Jews have often found themselves at the crossroads of communities, or have intentionally sought out those opportunities, leading to vibrant and diverse music.
  • Musical innovation is often a response to the musical status quo.
  • Openness to change and exposure to things different are often catalysts necessary for innovation.

This lesson continues to build toward answers to essential questions raised in part one. Namely:

  • What historical/sociological factors have influenced the creation, distribution, and engagement with Jewish music at the beginning of the 21st century?
  • What do the emergent trends and innovations of 21st century Jewish music say about 21st century Jews?
  • How has technology changed the creation and distribution of Jewish music in the 21st century?
  • What are the boundaries between liturgical and concert music? Have they changed?


The Stories of Music curriculum is developed in partnership with the Cantors Assembly, the American Conference of Cantors, and our colleagues at the Milken Archive of Jewish Music. Our goal is to provide prepared lesson materials on a broad range of musically related topics to engage participants in adult education programs to think about the American Jewish experience through stories of the evolving nature of Jewish music.

This program is made possible by the Lowell Milken Fund for American Jewish Music at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.