Idan Irelander
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Idan Irelander


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"Music, not politics; Middle East musicians perform at temple May 13"

With so much news flowing from the Middle East these days, Temple Emanuel of Andover is encouraging all faiths to take a
step back from politics tomorrow night and, instead, enjoy music from faiths around the world.
Cantor Idan Irelander, also the temple's assistant music director, has composed a concert that celebrates what's called "the
Sephardic tradition." The concert is a sampling of international music, with a focus on Judaism's Spanish, Middle Eastern and
African roots.
"There is no politics here," Irelander said. "I am bringing ancient Jewish music to life."
Irelander grew up in Israel and served in its Army. He remembers learning beautiful Jewish songs from his family. But finding
songsheets from those days is difficult, if not impossible.
"I can't find any of those songs," he said. "Those songs, which fathers used to sing to sons, are now out-of-print."
As a result, he composed his own Sephardic concert and sent the music to musicians around the world. They come together for a
show Friday, May 13 at 7 p.m. at Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road. The event is open to the public.
Included in the ensemble are Palestinian, Syrian, Jordanian, Israeli and American musicians. Some of the participants come from
homelands that are still in conflict with Israel.
"No politics," Irelander emphasized. "This is beautiful Jewish music from around the world."
He added that regardless of the tongue they speak, the players featured in the show communicate using the language they share,
which is music. He called music "the only truly universal language."
"When musicians from both sides of the world's most intractable conflicts come together, politics tend to disappear," he said.
Irelander sent a year planning and communicating with the ensemble members and is thrilled that the performance date has
finally arrived. The musicians will sit together on the bima (the altar) of an American synagogue and play together. Irelander and
others at Temple Emanuel hope this will serve as indication there can be a world free of discord and dissonance, in which all
people can live in harmony and peace.
"There is no doubt this will be a truly memorable moment in Temple Emanuel's history," Irelander said.
- Andover Townsman, Andover, MA-By Judy Wakefield

"Sabbath features Sephardic tradition in food, music"

ANDOVER — Jews and Muslims will come to
the bima at Temple Emanuel next Friday to
complement the Shabbat service with a musical
Middle Eastern, Sephardic twist.
"Music is the real language of peace. There is
no war in music," said Idan Irelander, associate
director of music at the temple at 7 Haggetts
Pond Road.
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Irelander came up with the idea for the service
to be held May 13 at 7 p.m. It highlights the
Sephardic tradition through food and all liturgical
songs in Hebrew from Judaism's Spanish,
Middle Eastern and African roots.
"As a cantor, this is something I feel obligated
to do to show how Jews celebrate the sabbath
with food and melodies," Irelander said.
He has been working on the service for two years, researching the music, instruments used
in different countries and writing musical arrangements.
Irelander will direct the ensemble which includes such instruments as qanun, violin and oud
"I believe that if these musicians can sit together on the bima of an
American synagogue and play beautiful music together, there is
hope for a world free of discord and dissonance, in which people
can live in harmony and peace," Rabbi Robert S. Goldstein wrote in
the temple's newsletter.
Growing up in Israel, Irelander enjoyed researching the
liturgical music from different parts of the world, which is not
heard in the synagogues regularly.
"From this, I always had this dream of having a shabbat with music from
around the world," he said.
Irelander, 39, moved to the United States in 1997 to study at Berklee
School of Music on a scholarship. He received a bachelor's degree in
classical composition and film scoring in 2001 from Berklee. After
working as a music teacher and music director, Irelander enrolled at
Hebrew College. He earned a master's degree in Jewish education
and was ordained as a cantor in 2009.
Irelander has been assistant music director at Temple Emanuel for 12
years. He has also served as spiritual leader of Temple Shalom, a
conservative synagogue in Salem, Mass., for the past two years.
- Eagle Tribune-By Yadira Betances

"Sephardic Service in Andover Explores the Universal Language of Music"

ANDOVER — The members
of Temple Emanuel in Andover
will engage in a bit of international
diplomacy Friday, May
13, when they celebrate the
Sephardic tradition with a musical
service written in the mode
of Judaism’s Spanish, Middle
Eastern and African roots.
This unique concert has
been a dream of Cantor Idan
Irelander, the temple’s assistant
musical director, for several
years. Listening to music from
the Sephardic tradition while
growing up in Israel inspired
him to learn more about the
many different types of instruments
and melodies used by
Sephardic Jews around the
“The first thing I did was to
research and gather material.
This took a while, because of
the diversity of the music and
the scarcity of resources,” said
Then, he acquired the instruments
and learned to play them
over several years.
“I had to learn how to play
the oud, called a lute in ancient
times, the qanun, a descendent
of the Arabic harp, and the
baglama saz, a Turkish stringed
instrument. I added music for
Arabic-style violin and then
integrated all of them with my
usual guitar, cello and percussion
ensemble, so I could
compose orchestrations and
arrangements using the original
melodies which use these
unique instruments,” he said.
Part of the story of this service
is the musicians. They hail from
Palestine, Jordan, Israel and the
U.S. Some of the participants
come from homelands that are
still at war with Israel.
Irelander expected them to
decline the opportunity to perform
in a synagogue, but many
welcomed the opportunity to
explore music as a universal
“Music is the comfort of
humanity. I’m calling this
ensemble the Ahavat Olam
Ensemble, or the ‘World Love’
ensemble,” said Irelander.
In addition to an evening of
beautiful music, the presentation
will offer hope to those who
believe peace is a real possibility.
Rabbi Robert Goldstein
said, “If these musicians can sit
together on the bimah (altar)
in an American synagogue and
play beautiful music together,
there is hope for a world free
of discord and dissonance, in
which people can find harmony
and peace.”
This concert is part of a larger
“My goal is to explore our
rich Jewish musical tradition
and make it accessible to our
community. This project began
several years ago with Shabbat
Unplugged, an innovative, onehour
Friday night service with
arrangements I created,” said
As a cantor-educator, his goal
is to expose the community to
different styles of music and to
teach them about Jewish communities
around the world.
“My next project is ‘Shabbat
Around the World.’ I want to
create an entire environment
where worshipers not only hear
the music, but also experience
the culture of our diverse Jewish
communities,” Irelander said.
The program, sponsored
by the Rose and David Shack
Lectureship Fund, will begin at
7 p.m., and is open to the public.
- Lois Rubin


1. Sh'ma (3:18)
Text: Deuteronomy 6:4
Music: Egypt (Cairo)

2. L'cha Dodi (3:27)
Lyrics: Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz
Music: Yemen

3. Shalom Aleicem (3:25)
Text: Liturgy
Music: Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Sheva, Jai Uttal (Turkey, Israel)

4. Psalm 29-Mizmor L'David (3:55)
Text: Psalm 29
Music: Turkey

5. Aleinu (4:38)
Text: Liturgy
Music: Tetuan

6. Ahavat Olam (2:30)
Text: Liturgy
Music: Jacky Elkayam (Morocco)

7. Hashkivenu (2:38)
Text: Liturgy
Music: Algireia

8. V'Shamru (1:58)
Text: Exodus 31:16-17
Music: Cantor Idan Irelander

9. Mi Chamocha (2:30)
Text: Liturgy
Music: Turkey

10. Chatzi Kaddish (2:22)
Text: Liturgy
Music: Ladino Folksong

11. Outro -"Shabbat Olam” (3:25)
Original Composition by Beth Bahia Cohen and Mana Jan (Instrumental)




Idan Irelander is the Cantor and Music Director of Temple Emanuel in Andover, Massachusetts. He is a native of Netanya, Israel. In his early years, he performed and arranged several albums for Israeli musicians and performed with Yehoram Gaon, also known as "The Israeli Frank Sinatra."

After becoming a Berklee College of Music B.E.S.T. Scholarship recipient, Cantor Irelander left Israel in 1997 to study in Boston at Berklee, embarking on a dual major in composition and film scoring. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and was the recipient of both the Berklee College of Music Award for Composition Excellence and the Berklee College of Music Award for Achievement in Film Scoring. At Hebrew College, Cantor Irelander earned a Masters degree of Jewish Education and was ordained a Cantor in 2009.

He is the creator of the "Shabbat Olam" series, "Shabbat Around the World." The first program on that series in the "Sephardic Shabbat Unplugged." This new CD/service/performance includes unique musicians and instrumentation from Jordan, Syria, Iran, Palestine, America and Israel. This ensemble known as the "Ahavat Olam" ensemble, the "World Love" ensemble.