By Nicole Noechel
Though there is a wide variety of a cappella groups on campus, only three cater solely to the Jewish community: Rak Shalom, Kol Sasson and Mezumenet.
Rak Shalom, founded in 2005, covers everything from American and Israeli pop to traditional Jewish music, performing for audiences across the country. The group traveled to California for its 2018 tour and is planning to visit New York and Toronto in 2019, according to member Ariella Shapiro.
“We have a fall final concert and a spring final concert, which are at the end of the fall and spring semesters,” said Shapiro. “It’s an opportunity to show the public what we’ve been working on all semester.”
The troupe has changed “drastically” since it began, said Shapiro.
“Our first album was called ‘Rak-A-Doodle-Doo,’” she said. “I think that says enough.”
Rak Shalom is as much of a family off-stage as they are on-stage.
“Our group is like a family,” said Shapiro. “As with any family, you might get annoyed at certain people because you spend so much time together, but at the end of the day…you gotta choose to live with it and love it!”
The group also has ties to the other Jewish a cappella groups, according to Shapiro, and they often try to schedule bonding events with each other.
“We do our best not to coordinate events during another group’s event,” she said.
Kol Sasson, founded in the spring of 1997 and re-founded in 2002 according to the group’s Facebook page, has performed throughout the country for celebrities such as Barack Obama, George W. Bush and former Governor of Maryland Robert Ehrlich, according to their website kolsasson.com. They have recorded seven original CDs, and sell them on their website.
“We perform on campus and off campus, in the Washington area and around the country!” said Kol Sasson President Rachel Spronz. “Every spring break we go on tour to a different place around the U.S., which is a really great opportunity to explore new places and bring singing to communities around the country. It’s great for bonding time.”
Like Rak Shalom, Kol Sasson also gets together outside practices and performances. Spronz stated that one of the best parts of being in the group is the social aspect and getting to make so many friends.
“In spending so much time together both in and outside of rehearsal, we really become a family,” she said.
The troupe is also close to other groups on campus, said Spronz.
“We have a really warm, collaborative and supportive a cappella community here at UMD,” she said. “We have a really great relationship with the other groups, both Jewish and non-Jewish”
Mezumenet, this university’s only all-female Jewish a cappella group, was founded in December 2008 in order to provide “a family for girls with a shared passion for singing and Jewish culture,” according to mezumenet.com.
The group has performed at universities and synagogues in Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia, and competes in competitions all over the country, according to the website.
“We generally have a few off-campus gigs per semester, along with a final on-campus concert,” said Mezumenet President Jocelyn Broth. “Our gigs vary, but during our on-campus performances we sing a variety of music ranging from English pop songs to Hebrew melodies to our famous Mezumenet parodies!”
The ladies have a big concert coming up on December 8 in Stamp’s Hoff Theater to celebrate the group’s tenth anniversary, and according to Broth the group is busy preparing.
“At our normal concerts, we only invite alum up to sing one song with us—our parody alumnae song, “Rabbi’s Son,” she said. “At this concert, we plan for alumnae to participate in four of our 14 to 15 songs. We will also be having a video showcasing Mezumenet through the past 10 years, serving refreshments to audience members before the concert and selling copies of our CDs.”
Though she loves to sing, Broth stated that her favorite part of being in the group is the bond members share.
“Mezumenet is truly like a sisterhood. We have study sessions together, get food together and hang out outside of rehearsal regularly,” said Broth. “It’s really like a huge group of best friends that sing together.”
The troupe also has a fond relationship with the other two Jewish a cappella groups on campus.
“We have so much love and respect for all of the other Jewish groups!” she said. “After our performances at Hillel Family Weekend, we usually have a big party for all the groups at someone’s apartment, and we are working on having a Shabbat meal for all the groups this semester.”