ShabbaTones Choir News

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Consulate General of Israel in Miami overseeing Florida, Kansas, Missouri & Puerto Rico

Dear Dr. Richard Sadove, Shalom,

In the name of the State of Israel and our entire consulate, I would like to thank you and your entire staff for organizing this beautiful event honoring our country on its 75th Anniversary of Independence.

I recognize the presence of the Mayor of Gainesville Harvey Ward, honorable dignitaries, elected officials, and especially our Gainesville community whose staunch support of Israel has been notable for many decades.

The State of Israel, a very young and old country, has been showing the world that democracy in the Middle East is possible to achieve and sustain long-term. Support from the United States is fundamental for the present and future of our nation. This year marks 75 years of an ironclad alliance, working together to defend and uphold democratic values and promote freedom, peace and prosperity.

Israel’s Independence Day is more than simply the day in which Israel became independent. It is the watershed moment in the history of the entire Jewish people and of the world. The Jewish people have gone through thousands of years of presence in Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel, 2000 years in exile, persecutions, pogroms and the Holocaust.

We persevered and reached that very moment on Friday, May 14, 1948, when David Ben-Gurion, having had all the courage, leadership and vision that one could hope to have had, declared Israel’s Independence. The State of Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People, was born and will forever remain a Jewish and Democratic state.

This was just the beginning of the young state’s journey. In a matter of months, while fighting for its life, a fight that is still ongoing, the young state absorbed millions of refugees and immigrants from more than 150 countries, including the ashes of Auschwitz and the deserts of Morocco, like my very own parents.

They all found refuge in the newly established Jewish state and started writing the chapters in the Israeli story. A story of innovation, of perseverance, of prosperity, of diversity. It is a story of Jews of all colors, ethnicities, cultures, languages that came together, revived the Hebrew language, and created a multicultural society and proud successful nation that embraced diversity as a source of strength and power. Much like Florida and much like Gainesville, on a smaller level.

Despite the cultural differences and beliefs between our neighbors and us, our goal is to improve our lives and the lives of others. As we call Tikun Olam, make the world a better place, it is our real motivation and reason to exist. The State of Israel has been contributing with its efforts to the world in different areas, such us technology, medicine, and education. For example, we have several partner projects and programs with the University of Florida and look forward to many more.

Friends, Christians, Jewish, Muslims, and other communities as well, come to visit Israel; we need you and we love you! Our state, the Holy Land is an icon for all of us. For some of you who have not been to Israel yet, make and effort and come; your life will change for better!

How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to join as one! God bless the City of Gainesville, the State of Israel, and the United States of America.

Next Concert

We are restarting again! Rehearsals begin July 2021.

We are planning our performance for this fall.  The program will feature the choral performance of the Shabbatones Chior led by Dr Will Kesling. Selections from ancient to modern and from many continents and languages; English, German, Spanish, Hebrew, and Ladino. Guest artists include Prof Paul Richards who will perform several prayers he composed for piano and voice. Tickets will go on sale on the website.

Jewish chorus offers students a new way to study their history

Posted Jan 12, 2020
by Meghan McGlone, Staff Writer

Though Elaine Jacobson had been involved in choral music for around 20 years, the lack of Jewish ballads made her feel like there was a weakness in her musical education. This inspired her to fix the problem.

Jacobson is the treasurer of ShabbaTones, a nonprofit chorus that was founded in Gainesville in 2019. Although it is not tied to UF or any religious institution, it focuses on Jewish songs.

Richard Sadove, ShabbaTones’ vice president, helped establish the chorus with Jacobson. He said Jewish choral music is all over the world but was a rarity in North Central Florida.

“We’re celebrating the rich heritage and beauty of Jewish music down through the millennia,” Sadove said.

ShabbaTones will hold auditions by appointment. Please contact us via  Students can sign up through ShabbaTones’ Facebook. It is also offering a basic musical skills class before auditions for students to test and practice their abilities.

During auditions, the singers will meet Will Kesling, a UF choral professor and the music director and conductor for ShabbaTones. Although he is not Jewish, Kesling is excited to learn more about Jewish history, Sadove said.

The audition will take about five to 10 minutes. The vocalist will sing a couple of notes or a song to make sure there is sectional balance, Jacobson said.

“People shouldn’t feel intimidated by the audition,” Jacobson said. “It’s a very friendly atmosphere.”

Jacobson and Sadove, who are both Jewish, live in Gainesville and formed the nonprofit group with others on their committee.

Sadove wants to allow students the opportunity to listen and participate in a Jewish choir, as he and his parents did. Students will also learn the history behind the songs, he said.

“We’re very excited about being here with the University of Florida student population,” Sadove said. “Here we have a real opportunity for people to strengthen their Jewish identity and pride.”

ShabbaTones’ first performance will be determined. It will include modern and century-old music. There will be songs not only in Hebrew but in other languages like Spanish and German, Sadove said.

After auditions, the group will dive right into practice from 7-9 p.m., Jacobson said. Further rehearsals will be held on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at UF Hillel.

“I’m really grateful that the ShabbaTones has been formed,” Jacobson said. “I’m looking forward to learning about that repertoire that I’m very ignorant about.”

Contact Meghan McGlone at Follow her on Twitter @meggmcglone. 

New chorus will highlight Jewish culture, history through song

Posted Dec 20, 2019 at 12:15 PM
Gainesville Sun
by Emily Mavrakis

Click to read more about the Shabbatones:

ShabbaTones Chorus will begin auditioning for members Jan. 22.

A nonprofit group in North Central Florida is hoping to connect people of various faiths, backgrounds and cultures by forming a new chorus that stems from the traditions of Jewish choral performances.

ShabbaTones Chorus, organized as a nonprofit that is not affiliated with a congregation, is hosting auditions for its chorus next month. The group will sing secular and sacred tunes inspired by Jewish history and culture across different genres and languages.

Richard Sadove, vice president of ShabbaTones Chorus, said the choral tradition in Judaism spans all the way back to about 1000 B.C., during the reign of King David.

People sang joyful tunes to enhance the experience of being at a sacred service, he said.

Choral music underwent changes during the Middle Ages and European Renaissance as churches in Italy, Germany and beyond began to adapt their own choral practices.

Italian and Jewish composer Salamone Rossi is a 17th century figure whose music was important to the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque

Early Baroque music is known for the popularization of single-melody tunes and chord sequences to better tie musical themes together in a piece. Classical and folk eras are also different forms the music has taken.

Reform Judaism, which developed in 19th century Germany as a transition away from traditional practice of the religion, brought with it a new revival of choirs. Some people even became professional a cappella choir singers, Sadove said.

During the early 1800s, synagogues introduced four-part choirs. Solomon Sulzer and Louis Lewandowski are well-known Jewish composers who helped establish this practice in European synagogues.

The first synagogue choir established in the United States was organized by New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel in 1818, Sadove said.

In modern times, he said, choral music has experienced its own revival. Jewish choirs perform all over the world and in many languages.

“It’s a big boom now,” Sadove said, “with much interest in choirs and Jewish choral music. You’ve got music that spans the history of time, from baroque, to classical, to folk and popular music.”

Sadove said people do not need to be Jewish to appreciate the choral music and its rich history.

“I always say, ‘You don’t have to be Jewish to like bagels,’” he said.

Willard Kesling, a University of Florida choral professor and director for the Gainesville Master Chorale, will serve as the ShabbaTones’ music director.

Kesling’s career has taken him around the world to conduct orchestras and choirs, but this is the first time Kesling, who is not Jewish, will be taking on a group that would perform in Hebrew.

“While I have some experience in Hebrew, I expect I may become better versed in it,” he said. “I just find the whole thing very fascinating.”

He said choral music is so important to the repertoire of music history because vocal chords are the original machines used to produce music.

“Before there were any instruments in anyone’s hands, the human voice was the instrument,” he said.

Unlike instrumental music, choral music contains lyrics, and language can be used to tell stories or relate poems.

“You relate through music and text,” Kesling said. “How much more personal and intimate can it be than sharing a poem through language?”

Anyone interested in auditioning to join ShabbaTones is asked to sign up using a link on the group’s Facebook page, “Shabbatones Fl.” The nonprofit organization also runs on donations. More information on the choir’s practice schedule and how to donate to the group is available at

Auditions will take place Jan. 22 from 6-9 p.m. at UF Hillel, 2020 W. University Ave.

Kesling said people don’t need to be professional singers with operatic talent to join.

“We’re going to look for nice voices, someone who can match pitch,” he said.

Having the ability to read music is a bonus, but not necessary. Kesling said the choir will learn and adapt to become better over time.

“I’m going to do what I always do, which is teach,” he said.

Please, stay tuned to get more ShabbaTones choir news!