Students | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle


Shabbat Sing, an enduring hallmark of Milwaukee Jewish Day School, now has a CD album. 

The weekly burst of energy and hamishness has children dancing and singing every Friday morning in a large room filled with parents and grandparents. The songs are led by Mara Kleiman and Wendy Cohen. Kleiman is director of Jewish life and learning, and Cohen is a Judaic music specialist, for Milwaukee Jewish Day School. The Shabbat Sing tradition is 40 years old, now a woven into Milwaukee Jewish Day School identity. In recent years, parents and others have become regulars, invited to the lively Friday morning sing-alongs. 

Kleiman and Cohen have recorded and released the album, “Shabbat Sing: then & now,” with help from students. The pair are quick to point out that other Shabbat Sing leaders came before them, including the first two leaders, Merzy Eisenberg and Sandi Dunn. Other leaders have included Tzipi Altman-Shafer, Susie Rosengarten, Rabbi Philip Nadel, and Marc Revenson (“Lil Rev”).  

L’Dor V’Dor 

The two song leaders talk about how music shapes and passes along Jewish identity, including their own. 

Kleiman is an alumna of Milwaukee Jewish Day School. “Shabbat sing and Jewish music in general from the Milwaukee Jewish Day School undoubtedly influenced my life path and brought me back here to lead it,” she said.  

In fact, Kleiman picked up guitar as an adult, to teach Judaism with it, inspired by Nadel teaching Judaism by way of guitar.  

Cohen is a parent of Milwaukee Jewish Day School alumni. “I started my Judaic music career when I was 18 years old at Camp Interlachen in Eagle River,” she said. 

Asked what motivates her, Cohen refer to the traditional Jewish phrase, L’Dor V’Dor – “from generation to generation.” 

Many of the songs are sung by Jews all over the world, fostering that sense of connection.  

Some of the songs come from the duo’s attendance at the Songleader Boot Camp’s National Conference, in St. Louis. The annual event inspires them, and they bring students. “We get to sometimes hear debuts of songs that become famous a year or two later,” Kleiman said.  

The album 

Seeing how powerful music is for Jewish identify and connection, the pair decided they didn’t want Shabbat Sing to exist in a silo. This said this is why they created the album. The original creators of Shabbat Sing, Eisenberg and Dunn, came to a Jan. 5 album release party. 

The album mostly features Kleiman and Cohen, with some students. It was created with assistance from Milwaukee producer Zach Meyer of The Coalroom. The duo also greatly appreciate assistance from donors Tracy and Michael Askotzky, and an anonymous donor.  

“Before this album, Shabbat Sing was in this room,” Kleiman said, after one Friday morning session. 

Now, it’s out in the world! 

* * *
“Shabbat Sing: then & now” is available on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. The CD is available from MJDS.

Archives for Student