Watch: Chazan sings inside his empty shul about longing for communal life

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Watch: Chazan sings inside his empty shul about longing for communal life

Avromi Freilich of Norrice Lea performs in a music video to the tune of Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof

Jack Mendel is the former Online Editor at the Jewish News.

A London chazan has starred in a music video shot in his empty shul during lockdown, about the longing for communal life to return.

Avromi Freilich, chazan of Norrice Lea in Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue, performed a version of Sunrise, Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof, with new lyrics written by congregant Malcolm Green.

Following lockdown in March, the community’s synagogues closed their doors. Since the easing of restrictions, Chief Rabbi Mirvis urged caution on their re-opening, citing the risks to more vulnerable shul members.

Speaking about his video, Freilich said: “As a chazan, I pine after shul standing on the bimah, being buoyed along by my community in prayer and of course, in song. So, if we can’t come to shul, I realised that I had to bring shul to the community. Music is a great healer: it lifts spirits and it forges friendships.”

He added, “in a strange way, the idea of shul as the heartbeat of our community has in recent times, been forgotten. But now, ironically whilst disconnected, shul has reverted to a place of prayer, support and song at the centre of the community.”

The idea of rewriting this haunting song, and making a loving film, dedicated to the shul and our community, was ambitious under current circumstances”.

Malcolm Green, writer of the lyrics and maker of the film, said it “was an opportunity to bring our community together through film and music. Avromi’s incredible voice and charisma made this a pleasure to write and film. Watching him and his family do so much to entertain and inspire the community, along with the Rabbi, meant that I was only too pleased to do whatever I could to spread the joy.”

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