I have to admit: Hearing that the Maccabeats, Y-Studs and Six13, the biggest Jewish a cappella groups in the U.S., got together to record a song would’ve gotten me pretty excited on a normal day, but all I can think of when I listen to the powerful and moving collaboration they released this week is that I wish it was made under more auspicious circumstances.
As a reaction to the October 7 Hamas attack, the three groups got together to raise money for an Israeli emergency fund by recording a version of “Avinu SheBashamain” (“Our God Who Is in Heaven”), also known as the Prayer for the Wellbeing of the State of Israel that’s recited on Shabbat and other holidays in many synagogues across the diaspora and Israel. The prayer, first published in 1948, was written by the Jewish nation’s chief rabbis with some assistance from Israeli poet and future Nobel laureate S. Y. Agnon, and first printed in the Israeli newspaper HaTzofe.
The three groups sing the prayer to the tune most often used in Ashkenazi congregations, composed by Jewish American cantor Sol Zim, and the video has that familiar singing heads a cappella style, with familiar images from the Jewish state in the background, like Masada and the Western Wall.
“When words fail, as they often have after the events of the past weeks, we turn to song and prayer,” they write in the video’s caption. The excerpt of the prayer they sing asks God to bless the State of Israel, to envelope it with God’s “Sukkah of peace,” to bestow God’s light and truth upon the nation and its leaders, and grace them with good counsel. They end the video with the words “Am Yisrael Chai” — the people of Israel live.
“Sending comfort to the bereaved, wishes for a speedy return of the hostages, and prayers for the safety for our brave brothers and sisters called up to protect Eretz Yisrael,” the caption continues. The funds raised by the a cappella groups in this fundraiser will be used to equip hospitals and first responders, care for injured soldiers and provide trauma counseling and help for Israeli evacuees, many of which will not be able to returned to their kibbutzim and homes for quite a while.
Check out the video here: