Musical Journal

*** Songs from the Maagal - Musical Journal is a blog run by Yonatan Gutfeld, SCJ Musical Director. ***

June 12, 2020 // 20 Sivan 5780
Here is another video in the spoken Hebrew series.
This time we learn about Hebrew body parts!
The song is called איפה הידיים שלי?
“Eyfo hayadaim sheli?” - where are my hands?
We learn:
ידיים yadaim - hands
אף af - nose
רגליים raglaim - legs
ראש rosh- head
כתפיים ktefaim - shoulders
Happy summer!


Eyfo Hayadaim from School for Creative Judaism on Vimeo.

June 2, 2020 // 10 Sivan 5780
Dear families,
Here is a first video from a series I’m working on for practicing spoken Hebrew.
This one is “Tofeset Tzavaim” - catch the Hebrew color. It features:
Adom אדום (red)
Tzahov צהוב (yellow)
Kachol כחול (blue)
Yarok ירוק (green)
Hope you enjoy!

April 20, 2020 // 26 Nisan 5780

Dear families,
Thoughts about this coming “Yom Hashoa”, the Israeli holocaust remembrance day that was set to the date the Warsaw ghetto uprising started brought me back to the partisans song. Here is a Hebrew/ English version I recorded for it with some historical footage.
Hope you are all safe and well.

April 7, 2020 // 13 Nisan 5780

Dear SCJ community,

Here is another Passover song I recorded. This time Chad Gadya.
It’s one of the latest additions to the Haggadah and supposedly is influenced by a German folk songs.
It was interesting to explore this enigmatic song with my students this week and try to understand what it’s role in the Haggadah.
I hope you’ll enjoy it as well.

Chag same’ach!


March 29, 2020 // 4 Nisan 5780

Dear SCJ community,

Happy month of Nisan! as we are approaching Pesach I'm uploading another video in the Hagada series, echad mi yode'a? - One who knows? I hope you'll enjoy practicing with it for the seder.

Have a good week!

March 25, 2020 // 29 Adar 5780

Dear SCJ community,

I hope you are safe and healthy in these days. Since I don't get to pass between the classes right now I started working on a series of Passover songs videos to prepare for the seder. Here is the first one - Ma Nishtana. I used some Images to explain the Hebrew words. I hope it would be helpful.

More to come soon!

May 1, 2019 // Nisan 26, 5779
Dear SCJ community, 

As promised in our family b’ney mitzvah musical preparation session, I’m sharing here the songs and musical prayers we typically sing in the school’s bar/bat mitzvahs.

I recorded a few versions for some of the songs so you can choose your favorite. I hope this playlist will help prepare and practice. Let me know if there’s a version you like and I didn’t include.

Thank you for attending these meetings. It’s so nice to get to know the families and sing together.

See below the list and the recordings.

Looking forward for the next time,


  1. Hine ma tov ver.1
  2. Hine ma tov ver.2
  3. Hine ma tov ver.3
  4. Shehechiyanu ver.1
  5. Shehechiyanu ver.2
  6. Mi chamoch ver.1
  7. Mi chamocha ver.2
  8. Mi chaooch ver.3
  9. Ilu finu
  10. mizmor shir
  11. Ose shalom ver.1
  12. Ose shalom ver.2

Afikoman Found!


February 25, 2019 // 20 Adar 1, 5779

Hi SCJ community,

On the last few Thursdays on my usual walk from the A train to our Cobble hill ma’agal I noticed how the sunset is later and the days grow longer.

When I shared this sentiment with Misha he suggested we’ll put to music the Yotzer Or blessing- the creator of light. In Maagal we spoke about how each of the four parts of the blessing: Forming light, Creating Darkness, Making Peace and Creating everything, we ascribe to God, but human beings do them too, every day, bringing light, darkness and peace to the world.  

Misha shared in the ma'agal that originally the prayer ended with the words: Creator of evil (רע), since we must be thankful for both the good and the bad.  After a time in which the Jewish people had it especially bad, the rabbis decided to replace the word "evil" with the word "everything," (הכל) and that is how we pray today.

Here are the Hebrew lyrics and translation:

יוצר אור ובורא חושך

עושה שלום ובורא את הכל

קומי אורי כי בא אורך

וכבוד ה׳ עליך זרח

Maker of light and creator of darkness

Maker of peace and creator of everything

Rise up, my light, because your light has come

And the beauty of god has shined upon you


December 25, 2018 // 25 Kislev, 5779

Channukah 5779

Shalom SCJ community,

My new post will have to do with Chanukah of course.

A couple of years ago Misha brought to the ma’agal a translation he wrote for the classic Hebrew song BanuChoshech. The song deals with the two important motives of the holiday besides latkes- חושך, darkness andאור, light.

There’s an iconic step forward movement that goes with it as you can see in the video.

The English version was a big success and I’ve been singing it in Chanukah parties across the city since.

Bellow are the lyrics in both languages and a recording.

I’m avoiding the transliteration- students, can you read the Hebrew?

Happy Chanukah!

מילים: שרה לוי-תנאי

לחן: עמנואל עמירן (פוגצ'וב)

בָּאנוּ חֹשֶךְ לְגָרֵשׁ.

בְּיָדֵינוּ אוֹר וָאֵשׁ.

כָּל אֶחָד הוּא אוֹר קָטָן,

וְכֻלָּנוּ - אוֹר אֵיתָן.

סוּרָה חֹשֶךְ! הָלְאָה שְׁחוֹר!

סוּרָה מִפְּנֵי הָאוֹר!

Misha’s translation:

We’re the warriors of the light

Come to bust away the night

Each of us is one small flame

And together we exclaim:

Get away darkness

Onward night

We will turn you into light

Get away darkness

Onward night

We will turn you into light


November 11, 2018 // 3 Kislev, 5779

Shalom School for Creative Judaism community!
I’m excited to begin the SCJ musical journal, which will offer some of the songs we sing together. I’ll be regularly posting here current songs we sing at the ma’agal at Cobble Hill and Lower East Side branches, in hopes to make them echo in the homes and home groups, and bring us a bit more together.

First Song - Vayivra Elohim

When Misha announced that this will be the Year of the Artists, I started looking for a song to go with it. Except for the beautiful Vincent by Don McLean that thematically has little to do with creative Judaism I couldn’t think of much.
So I went to the Torah’s creation story in Genesis, chapter 1 and found these words:
Bara’- (created, made) ברא
Tzelem- (image) צלם
Adam- (human) אדם
Vayar ki Tov- (And God saw that it was good) וירא כי טוב

I thought maybe this is a good place to begin.
I put a melody to it that isn’t the hardest or the easiest. Here is a recording if you’d like to practice for the ma'agal.

The lyrics are:

ויברא אלוהים את האדם בצלמו
אלוהים ברא אותו
וירא כי טוב
טוב מאוד
ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר
יום השישי


Vayivra Elohim Et HaAdam Betzlamo
Elohim Bara O'to
Vayira Ki Tov
Tov Me'od
Vayi'hi Erev
Vayi'hi Boker
Yom HaShishi


In her spirit god created me
In her spirit
And she found it very good
Very good
Then came evening and came morning
Day number six

I look forward to singing with you all!
Yonatan, SCJ Musical Director

Here's a peek at our Ma'agal at the Cobble Hill branch singing Vayivra Elohim On November 15