By Gabrielle Goldman
For Mitzpeh

Mezumenet members pose for a photo. Left to right top row: Pooja Swaminathan ’21, Heather Rudick ’22, Rina Torchinsky ’22, Siri Doddi ’21, Rebecca Elspas ’20, Elizabeth Galilov ’23, Miriam Marks ’20 Left to right bottom row: Rachel Shovmer ’21, Leora Barkai ’22, Mo Goldberger ’22, Ceoli Jacoby ’23, Gabriella Epstein ’20, Dena Fishman ‘21. Photo courtesy of Chaiky Backman.

This university’s female Jewish a cappella group, Mezumenet, just released a vibrant new album, Imperium. 

Imperium ​features various genres, from the rock Panic! at the Disco medley, to the Jewish liturgical song “Eshet Chayil,” to Mezumenet’s own unique parodies. For example, they altered Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” to “Challah Back Girl,” and rewrote the lyrics as “oy vey this my shtick, all the girls stuff their face like this, few times I’ve been around Target and I can’t find no challah I quit!” The album comes after the group won second and third place in 2019 and 2020 at Kol HaOlam, a Jewish intercollegiate a capella competition.

Arrangements performed by the group have evolved. A few years ago, Mezumenet mainly sang pop music and parodies. Now the group plans to sing more difficult pieces which still include pop​ but also expand to jazz, ballads and Jewish prayer songs, as heard in ​Imperium​. In the future, some members hope the group dabbles in R&B and Israeli rap covers.

Former music director Jenna Marcus ‘19, now a mechanical engineer, organized Mezumenet’s arrangements for ​Imperium​. Marcus also paved the way for current music director Pooja Swaminathan, a senior public health science major, to ensure Mezumenet could smoothly release ​Imperium​.

 “Post-production tasks, like mastering, mixing, and album art, were passed on from alumnae,” said Swaminathan.

The songs are then uploaded to a licensing company called Soundrop.

“Once the songs are uploaded onto their website, it’s pretty much a waiting game until the songs are released on all the platforms!” she said. 

Like most functions in 2020, ​Imperium’​s publication was halted. Originally scheduled for release in spring 2020, Mezumenet had completed recording in a studio above the South Campus Diner in August of last year. As a result of COVID-19, the group had no choice but to release the album later than intended. Despite the challenges of time commitment and stress, Mezumenet President Rachel Shovmer, a senior chemical engineering major, was impressed by the final product.

“[The album is] surpassing expectations and way better than I could ever imagined it to be,” she said.

Shovmer joined the group during her freshman year. Auditioning for multiple singing groups, not knowing where she belonged, she reached “Mez” and immediately felt a sense of belonging due to the members’ kindness toward her.

“[Mezumenent] ended up being like a family where they take you in and you don’t feel like an outsider as a freshman,” she said.

For Elizabeth Galilov, a sophomore criminal justice and vocal performance major, the group similarly provided a safe place during the transitory time.

“They accepted me quickly and treated me like I was their sister… I have felt so comfortable … and grateful to be part of such an amazing community while being able to do what I love,” she said.

After the semester abruptly ended last spring, Mezumenet has managed to stay in touch through Zoom calls. It remains difficult for them to rehearse as singing with a mask holds its own challenges. They plan to move forward with rolling Zoom auditions and aspirations of socially distanced meetings.


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