Jewish a cappella group describes experiences as rewarding


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Kolhalayla.com | Members of co-ed Jewish a cappella group Kol Halayla perform at the 2014 “Shabbat a Cappella” concert held every spring.


Although “Kol Halayla” is Hebrew for “the voice of the night,” the coed Rutgers a cappella group prefers to refer to themselves as the “voice of the Knight,” according to their website. 

The foremost Jewish a cappella group at Rutgers was founded nearly 20 years ago, said Jonathan Sanders, co-business manager of Kol Halayla. 

Originally known as Koleinu, Kol Halayla was the first coed a cappella group to establish itself at the University.

“We started out like any other a cappella group,” said Sanders, a Rutgers Business School senior. “By around 1995, our group evolved to its current form, and our members have been proudly performing ever since.”

Sanders said the type of music they enlist into their repertoire ranges from traditional Hebrew and Israeli to contemporary pop and classic rock.

As the business manager, Sanders is accountable for booking performances and negotiating prices. He stated that costs vary from $300 to $800. All proceeds are allocated to funding future concerts and maintaining equipment.

“It can be stressful,” he said. “But I love being a part of Kol Halayla. Everyone works incredibly hard and seeing how successful we’ve been motivates each of our members to aspire for even greater.”

The group, which currently is comprised of 13 singers, abides by no religious criterion for selecting members Kol Halayla, treasurer Elliot Linder said.

“When someone auditions, that individual is judged solely on their singing abilities,” said Linder, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.

Kol Halayla has been involved in numerous on-campus and off-campus events, most prominently at last year’s Rutgers University Dance Marathon, as well as at an event in Orangeburg, New York, where they performed last year. This year, he said the group’s itinerary includes multiple local and out-of-state events. By next week, Kol Halayla is set to perform at the East Brunswick Jewish Center. 

Kol Halayla holds two concerts each semester on campus — one in the winter and one in the spring, Sanders said. The winter concert is planned for November 22, while the spring concert is April 18. 

The spring concert, which is held during the weekend and referred to as “Shabbat a Cappella,” is a time when Kol Halayla invites two or three other Jewish a cappella groups from various campuses across the country. The event, which they have organized for the past 18 years, is an opportunity to engage and learn from one another. 

Anna Krymchanskaya, president of Kol Halayla, said the group averages approximately seven to eight shows a year in addition to other events they hold at Rutgers. 

“It can be tiring work,” Krymchanskaya said. “But to get through it, you need to have a love for music.”

She said it was her love of music that attracted her to the organization. In her first year at Rutgers, she attended a musical event held by Kol Halayla with a friend and was impressed by the group’s performance. Inspired by the music, Krymchanskaya auditioned, was accepted and then eventually became elected to become the treasurer of the organization.  

Krymchanskaya said that she feels privileged to be a part of Kol Halayla and considers each member an extension of her own family. 

Although she said that her experiences and history with the organization have been nothing but positive, the position carries multiple responsibilities. Kol Halayla spends a significant portion of their time traveling and performing. 

Krymchanskaya also described their means of communicating their events with the entire student population. She stated that through utilizing flyers and posting announcements on the email listserv, as well as participating at the annual Student Involvement Fair, their group is able to reach out to the Rutgers community.

Linder stressed that Kol Halayla places a tremendous emphasis on inclusiveness and stated it was the tolerant atmosphere that allowed him to overcome stage fright. 

“The entire group is very supportive, and everyone is always willing to provide constructive criticism,” he said. 

Linder said that while auditioning might seem “nerve-wracking,” Kol Halayla is nonetheless a rewarding and enriching experience. 


Juan Sacasa

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