One year ago, the Chevy Chase, Maryland-based organization devoted to
finding and sharing new Jewish liturgical music didn?t even exist.
Today, it is relishing the task of selecting the best from among 169
pieces of music written by composers from 5 countries and 19 U.S.

?We are absolutely thrilled,? said Dr. Norma Brooks, vice president
of Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music. ?A
festival highlighting new music for congregational singing was just
an idea, a dream. Where would the music come from? How would
composers find us? Well, they did, in a very big way,? she said,
pointing to a three-inch-thick stack of submitted sheet music and the
four accompanying review CDs.

?I am in awe, overwhelmed with delight,? said Hazzan Dr. Ram?asat,
Shalshelet?s president, as he contemplated the number of submissions
that must be reviewed in order to select the dozen or so that will be
performed at the inaugural festival in November. ?That so many
people sent us music after only a few months of Shalshelet?s
existence is nothing short of amazing. It is a testament to the
contribution Shalshelet can make,? he added. ?Liturgical music is
being written everywhere, by all kinds of people, and we needed a way
to discover and share it. We have undoubtedly found a way.?

Shalshelet seeks to foster new music for Jewish congregational use
and to expose wider audiences to innovations in Jewish religious
music. It was incorporated on May 29, 2003, and sponsored a preview
concert just days later. Through an annual Festival of New Jewish
Liturgical Music and accompanying festival CD and songbook,
Shalshelet will enable composers to share their music. Its inaugural
festival will be held on November 13?14, 2004, at Temple Shalom, in
Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Shalshelet’s website,, contains more information
about the organization and the submission process. The volunteer-run
Shalshelet received its tax-exempt status from the IRS in December,
and fundraising is underway.

?We are seeking financial support,? said Tasat, citing the expense
and labor required to manage the submissions process, prepare the
music for performances and recording, conduct the festival, and
produce songbooks and CDs. Launched with the support from board
members, friends, and family, Shalshelet received its first
institutional grant from the Rita Poretsky Foundation. Tasat hopes
more funding partners will follow. ?If your readers want to help, we
need and would warmly welcome it,? said Tasat. Donations can be
mailed to Shalshelet, P.O. Box 15836, Chevy Chase, MD 20825.