May 24 was a first for the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island and for Rhode Island’s Jewish community, as the school presented its annual Zimriyah, a Hebrew song festival, in the social hall of the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center.
Holding the event in the Providence JCC broadened the audience and helped strengthen community ties.
Zimriyah is a musical celebration of the Hebrew language and Israel that is much beloved by JCDSRI students, parents and friends. The music, which is part of the school’s Hebrew curriculum, includes traditional and modern songs, religious songs and modern Israeli songs.
The theme for this year’s festival was a tribute to Israel and a celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday. As part of the preparation for the festival, 70 facts about Israel were incorporated into the school’s curriculum. In the weeks leading up to Zimriyah, the halls of the JCDSRI were filled with singing.
“Singing is considered a best practice in education,” said Andrea Katzman, the JCDSRI’s head of school. “It is one of the most effective ways for children to develop sound awareness [critical for learning how to read]. After all, songs are filled with rhymes, alliteration and patterns – they invite children to play with the sounds of language, rhythm, and celebrate melodic creations. Singing also allows our students to communicate their feelings and thoughts in expressive and creative ways.”
Katzman continued, “Our community’s songs give us access to shared memories and help us to imagine new worlds. They contain blessings and sparks of light.”
A line in one of the songs from Zimriyah may have summed it up best: “Let us sing together with one heart.”
NAOMI SCHORSCH STEIN is admissions director at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, in Providence