Music

Our music reflects our belief in the importance of continuity and innovation—preserving the unique musical legacy of Max Janowski, while innovating for the future. We encourage you to participate in our worship services with an open ear—sing, listen, learn, and enjoy!

Today, our music honors Max Janowski's heritage while featuring an eclectic mix of styles that spans time and space. From ancient melodies said to have been handed down at Sinai to the works of Italian Renaissance composer Solomone Rossi, from the contemporary melodies by songwriters like Josh Nelson and Debbie Friedman to Sephardic folk songs and Chasidic niggunim, and from the gems of 20th century Reform synagogue music by composers like Max Helfman, Bonia Shur, and Ben Steinberg to the newest spiritual sounds from Israel, our rich musical liturgy is part of what defines our congregation. Under the direction of Cantor David Berger, our pianists, Community Chorale, and Klezmer band participate in worship services throughout the year, together with guest musicians, visiting ensembles, and, of course, the voices of the congregation, all contributing to our sacred music experience. Beyond worship, our congregation regularly produces concerts, recitals, and premieres of new compositions and is recognized as a center for great Jewish music in Chicago and around the country.

Since KAM Isaiah Israel’s founding, our members have had a particular interest in musical liturgy. From documents in the synagogue’s archives, we know that the music of the great German composers, such as Lewandowski and Sulzer, were prevalent throughout services in early years. While it is still sung from time to time, 19th century Jewish music in the German tradition eventually ceded to the compositions of the renowned Max Janowski, the preeminent composer of Jewish liturgical music in America during the 20th century and music director at KAM and KAM Isaiah Israel for over 50 years. We marked the 25th yahrzeit of Max Janowski and created a new publication of some of his previously unpublished works, which is available for purchase online.