About the Project


August 20th, 1619, the first Dutch ship carrying African slaves arrived in America. 

August 20th, 2020, Rosh Chodesh Elul, marks the beginning of a deeply reflective period as we approach the Jewish High Holy Days. 

On this day, the Cantors Assembly will release a moving, high-quality music video featuring 200 voices of Black and Jewish spiritual leaders singing Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise.”

This piece, based on Psalm 121, is a well-known anthem to many: it is based on the Hebrew Psalms and is sung in both churches and synagogues around the country. It is our hope and prayer that our voices will inspire solidarity, comfort, and voluntary contributions to the NAACP, helping to bring about change and freedom from the chains of our past. We are particularly fond of the James Weldon Johnson Scholarship.

In these times of pandemic, civil unrest and profound racial division in our country, people are turning to their clergy members to provide necessary moral and ethical leadership.  This musical collaboration was inspired by the friendship, forged in tragedy that has grown between Pastor Eric Manning of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, PA. When diverse voices come together in song, we are able to reach people’s hearts, build bridges of community, and affect change in the wider public arena. Our vision and hope is that this combined effort will bring healing to our broken world. 

In addition to providing leadership and solidarity during this dark time, this project will also work to raise the profile of the Cantor, the Cantors Assembly, and the extraordinary role of the cantor as we build bridges through music. 

This project has been generously funded by the Cantors Assembly Foundation.
 

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