Saturday, January 25, 2020

Paramus--Yavneh Academy ushered in the first night of Chanukah with a musical performance at The Garden State Plaza in Paramus. Rabbi Jonathan Knapp, Principal, opened the event with a D’var Torah on the meaning of Chanukah. Sammy Greenberg, a Yavneh student who became a bar mitzvah in September, lit the six foot tall menorah and sang the bracha. The Yavneh concert choir and junior choir performed a medley of Chanukah music to a throng of admiring families and shoppers taking a break to watch and listen. They were accompanied by Director Marsha Greenberg Motzen, and Steve Cohen, who has done many arrangements for the choir. After the performance, Yavneh students handed out donuts to the appreciative singers and their fans.

In an earlier phone interview, Rabbi Knapp said, “This is a chance to share our excitement about the miracle of Chanukah. We’re always looking for opportunities for our concert choir and junior choir to perform. We take pride in their accomplishments and Mrs. Motzen is very talented.” He said the choir has been performing Chanukah music at the mall for 10 years, and began at the behest of Rabbi Moshe Grossbaum, Director of Chabad in Paramus.

Planning for the performance began in August, said Mrs. Motzen, when she started thinking about how the concert would take shape. “We started in September. At the first rehearsal, I gave out Chanukah music.”

Mrs. Motzen said the choirs are very busy during the year. “The Yavneh choirs are often called upon to perform at community and even non-community events. We’ve sung at the Beit Orot (a hesder yeshiva in Jerusalem) dinner and last year we were the first school choir in 20 years to be invited to participate in the Teaneck Yom HaShoah commemoration at Teaneck High School.” She is excited about the choir performing in the March 22 spring festival in New York City sponsored by the World Zionist Organization, commemorating the 10th yahrtzeit of Naomi Shemer, an Israeli musician and songwriter, who wrote “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”) in 1967.