'It was just an idea I had,' says Zachary (Zak) Lazar modestly, 'that grew and grew.' The idea was a music CD that Zak produced as a tzedakah project for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah at Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Bellevue.
'My mom suggested that I call different artists to get them to donate songs,' he says.
The result is a compilation that includes music ' and sometimes performances ' by Jewish songwriting luminaries such as Debbie Friedman and Susan Bardsley and Doug Cotler, as well as local amateur and professional talent like the Jewish Day School choir, De Hirsch Sinai's Rock Shabbat ensemble, and Rob and Lisi Wolf of OyBaby! fame.
Available at four local venues, or direct from the producer, Peace Throughout the World sells for $20. All funds go to two great causes: the LAM foundation and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.
Readers of this paper and this column are familiar with LAM, a degenerative lung disease that primarily affects young mothers, and for which no cure is known. Bellevue resident Gina Dichter, a friend of Zak's family, is afflicted with this illness and a great deal of local support ' emotional, physical and financial ' has been generated in the effort to help her.
Multiple myeloma is a rare blood cancer that, sadly, took the life of another Lazar family friend, Marty Levin of Sammamish.
'He's watched me and my husband do what we can,' for these friends, says Zak's mom, Gail. 'It's pretty inspiring watching a 12-year-old ' who happens to be my son ' take on this responsibility.'
Gail notes that tikkun olam (repair of the world) has been a long-standing component of Zak's education. He attended the Jennifer Rosen Meade preschool and the Jewish Day School through fourth grade.
So far, Zak has sold 100 of the 350 CDs produced. He says that contacting the artists was not that difficult, thanks to the Internet. Gail and Zak produced the master themselves with help from Rob Wolf, who also helped with the duplication process.
The CD is on sale at Magneev! at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island, Tree of Life in Bellevue and Temple De Hirsch Sinai in Bellevue or you can contact Zak directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in having the CD sold at your store, synagogue or local event, call Gail at 425-746-6222.
' ' '
Anna Goren ended her freshman year at McGill University with a bang. Effusion, one of the school's three a cappella choirs, of which she is a member, made it to the finals of the International Collegiate Choir Association competition. For this they had the honor of performing at Lincoln Center in New York just two weeks ago.
Goren, who graduated from Bellevue High School, was involved in singing here at home, too. She was a member of the Seattle Girls Choir, as well as her high school's jazz choir, the Bellairs.
Her dad, Barry, explains that a few weeks after Anna's arrival in Montreal last August, she mentioned that she was auditioning for Effusion, claiming 'I'll never get in.'
She auditioned and made it.
The group of about 17 singers is mostly student run, says Anna's mom, Suzanne, adding that the members put in 10 to 15 hours of work each week.
'A lot of a cappella music is schmaltzy,' says Suzanne, 'but this group is more bluesy and jazzy'they have their own sound.'
The choir first won their regional semi-finals, held at Fordham University. Along with seven other schools they moved to the finals of this international competition. They performed at Alice Tully Hall, 'to a packed house of partisan and enthusiastic a cappella fans,' Barry says. Each choir did a 12-minute set, which was judged on solos, singing, arrangement and choreography. And while McGill did not take top honors, they did get an award for best arrangement.
Anna chose McGill for its international and cosmopolitan setting. Although classes are in English, when she leaves campus, Suzanne says, 'it's like being dropped into Paris,' so she is making excellent use of her high school French.
The Gorens' oldest daughter (sister, Molly, 16, attends Bellevue High and is currently at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel, and brother Jacob is at the Jewish Day School) has connected there with a number of friends from Seattle, as well as with families of Seattle-area friends originally from Montreal. For holidays and Shabbat she attends the Ghetto shul in the neighborhood just outside campus (the campus area is nicknamed the Ghetto), which Barry describes as 'trans-denominational,' serving the needs of a congregation of students and young professionals.
Home for the summer, be preparing ' through the miracle of virtual Internet rehearsals ' for Effusion's summer performance at the celebrated Montreal Jazz Festival, where you will find her in July.