Golda Och Academy Hosts 14th Annual Kolot Hayam Choir Festival

Imagine 80 young Jewish voices singing the Eyal Golan version of Am Yisrael Chai with incredible harmony.  It was an intense and amazing 48 hours at the Kolot Hayam Shabbaton near the NJ shore with choir students and recent grads together with high school students from Golda Och Academy, Yeshivah of Flatbush, SAR, Leffell, and Heschel.  This was the 14th annual Kolot Hayam Shabbaton sponsored by Golda Och Academy in West Orange which gives Jewish day school a capella groups a chance to perform, bond and shine over Shabbat.  

The event opened with a concert by a cappella group Six13 whose members are resident vocal  judges and mentors for the weekend.  This was followed by a pre-Shabbat competition of the choirs that showcased each school’s incredible talent, ruach and teamwork. The overall competition winner was Heschel, and GOA won the superlative of "best blend" as well as an award for Excellent Solo Performance by Chloe Elder ‘24 for Billy Joel’s song “New York State of Mind”.  A highlight was when the entire group sang Am Yisrael Chai which felt more important than ever following the events of October 7. 

Following the competition, singers enjoyed a beautiful musical Shabbat with great food, incredible singing and praying.  Finally, Havdalah ended Shabbat and was followed by an inspiring performance by the Berklee College of Music Jewish a capella group Berkalit and then Cafe Kolot - an open mic night where singers had the chance to perform and shine.  

According to Golda Och Academy Choir Director Juliana Rappaport, "Over the course of this weekend, I watched students grow immensely in their friendships, their musicianship, and their confidence. Kolot Hayam leaves our students not only with a greater sense of camaraderie among their GOA classmates, but a sense of their place in a larger web of Jewish musical community that will last them a lifetime.”

GOA graduating senior Kenny Griffel noted, “It was a very educational experience that allowed us as a group to improve ourselves musically and also become more connected to our Jewish community through the power of music.”

“It was amazing and moving to see the sheer amount of musical talent and passion in one room. A big thank you to Golda Och Academy for sponsoring this life-changing event.” Jamie Mittleman, Kolot Hayam Director from Golda Och Academy.

For information on Kolot, contact Jamie Mittleman at  To support Kolot, please contact Stephanie Bash-Soudry, Director of Institutional Advancement at