It’s Sacks, bagels and rock ‘n roll

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SI­MON ROCKER

IN THE same Lon­don stu­dio in which the cream of Bri­tish pop urged us to feed the world for Band Aid 24 years ago, a new an­them was be­ing pre­pared this week.

But in­stead of Bob Geldof, Ge­orge Michael and Sting, cue a trio of chaz­ans, the men of the Shab­ba­ton Choir, a cou­ple of dozen pupils from the Mo­riah Jewish Day School from Har­row and Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.

For an An­glo-Jewish gath­er­ing, the stu­dios of lead­ing pro­ducer Trevor Horn in bo­hemian Lad­broke Grove may have been off the beaten track.

But they were there to record a pro­mo­tional video — des­tined for YouTube — for the Chief Rabbi’s re­cently re­leased dou­ble-CD, Home of Hope, in cel­e­bra­tion of Is­rael’s 60th birth­day.

Al­ready 200,000 copies of the CD set have been dis­trib­uted here, in Is­rael and the United States, a kind of au­dio hag­gadah which in­ter­leaves the Chief Rabbi’s telling of the story of Is­rael with a wide range of mu­sic.

Mr Horn him­self pro­duced three of the tracks, ded­i­cat­ing them to his Jewish wife Jill Sin­clair who has been in a coma for two years af­ter an ac­ci­dent. “My wife was very pas­sion­ate about Is­rael,” he said. “I’ve been there with her when she was scream­ing at peo­ple in restau­rants.”

On Wed­nes­day, the pro­ducer — an avun­cu­lar fig­ure in blue sweater and jeans — was lend­ing all his ex­per­tise to a two-minute new ver­sion of Oseh Sha- lom, “He Who Makes Peace”, by Shab­ba­ton’s di­rec­tor Stephen Levey.

“I’m quite a fan of the Chief Rabbi,” Mr Horn said. “He’s a re­ally cool guy.”

By evening, the cool guy had ap­peared at the stu­dio and even­tu­ally shed his jacket and loos­ened his tie as he joined the band of cho­ris­ters rock- ing from side to side. “We want you to link arms, do the sway­ing, and lots of move­ment,” urged video di­rec­tor Adam Co­hen, a swirl of arms like King Louis from The Jun­gle Book.

The back­ing track had al­ready been laid down by ex­pe­ri­enced ses­sion mu­si­cians, with Mr Horn on bass.

In the af­ter­noon, the soloists, chaz­ans Jonny Turgel, Rabbi Lionel Rosen­feld and Shi­mon Craimer, recorded their vo­cals. Mr Craimer had flown in es­pe­cially from New York, just as had Boy Ge­orge for that orig­i­nal Band Aid sin­gle, Do They Know It’s Christ­mas?

“Some­body give Lionel a big pair of dark glasses,” Mr Horn sug­gested, “That’s what he needs.”

Next came the Mo­riah kids, who had gone through two au­di­tions at school to make the cut and clearly im­pressed their host. “I’ve done ama­teur choirs be­fore,” Mr Horn said. “Nor­mally, you get two or three takes of ab­ject chaos. But the kids were right on.”

The Chief Rabbi had been in­spired to make the video on the re­cent Shab­ba­ton Choir tour of Is­rael, when he had heard au­di­ences join­ing in the ren­di­tion of Oseh Shalom.

“Guys, I just want to thank you,” Sir Jonathan Sacks told a crowded stu­dio, in­clud­ing some of the project’s back­ers, such as Lord Ja­cobs and Richard and Linda Lof­tus.

By 7.30, the Shab­ba­ton Choir were on cue, hav­ing waited in the wings amid bot­tles of sweet kosher wine and plat­ters of bagels. Feed the world, per­haps not, but cer­tainly feed the Jews.


Gimme that old time re­li­gion: the Chief Rabbi and the Shab­ba­ton and Mo­riah choirs

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