HomeSingers find sure appeal of Jewish a cappella groups

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A battle of the Jewish a cappellas?

Not exactly, but the Peninsula JCC is hosting a “sing-off” starring Tufts University’s Shir Appeal and the University of Pennsylvania’s Shabbatones at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6.

In their joint appearance in Foster City and in separate Bay Area concerts over the weekend, the two coed a cappella groups will sing selections that range from the traditional Jewish hymn “Yom Zeh L’Yisrael” to the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.”

Shir Appeal and the Shabbatones are part of a growing cohort of Jewish a cappella ensembles on college campuses across the U.S., including at U.C. Berkeley. However, the groups are far from uniform: Their decisions about what type of music to sing (religious or secular?), members’ religious affiliation (Jewish or not?) and where to perform all help shape each ensemble’s identity.

Shir Appeal Shir Appeal

Berkeley’s Kol Hadov, founded four years ago, sings both Jewish and secular music, and is open to Jews and non-Jews. The group performs throughout the school year, including at an event last year for visiting Israeli President Shimon Peres. 

Shir Appeal performs only music that has a Jewish connection, and a quarter of its members are not Jewish. The Shabbatones performs both Jewish and secular music, and all members are Jewish.

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