Jewish Music as Medicine



February 6, 2024

Since I was young, I’ve always believed in the power of music. Music brings serenity and joy. It connects people to one another. It can be moving and emotional, and even rejuvenating. 

My most powerful musical experience was also one of the most meaningful Jewish moments in my life. On a group trip to Israel, we visited a sound cave in Tzfat, located on the highest hill in the city. The acoustics are incredible, and being in the space can be overwhelming. Once our entire group was inside, we sang niggunim—wordless Jewish songs—together. When we finished singing, we closed our eyes and remained in silence for two minutes. As the sound faded away, everyone began to hear a white clear noise and our minds felt hollow of all thoughts.

It made me realize that I had been stuck inside my own mind and in my own thoughts on a daily basis, and by connecting to Judaism even for one minute, everything else faded to the background. It was like the cave had absorbed all of my stress and problems, leaving me alone with my soul—healed by the music around me, and my connections to my Jewish peers. I took this healing experience with me as I started my journey as a student at Hunter College. 

As a first-generation student, college was a dream to me—but one I always hoped I would achieve. My parents valued education, and worked hard to instill the same values in me and my siblings.  My father was a refugee from Libya, and his parents built an entirely new life in Israel—which made a huge difference in the way he was raised. He woke us up every morning for school, ensured we prepared for every test, and stayed on top of our grades and assignments. These small acts of care showed me how much he wanted us to succeed. My mom was always encouraging. She taught me to have confidence even when I wasn’t the best student in class or the brightest in the room. Their encouragement and love for learning led me to Hunter College.

Here at Hunter College, my love for music and Jewish community have inspired my leadership on campus through two Hillel clubs: JHealth, a Jewish pre-health club that allows students from Hunter College and NYU to come together and speak to Jewish health professionals, and Music is Medicine, where students volunteer to perform for hospital patients.

With these two groups, I’ve created inclusive spaces for students with different interests, and brought moments of joy to those in need. Through JHealth, I offered a safe Jewish environment where students are free to explore a career that is important to them. Through Music is Medicine, I’ve seen the power of music to heal, and learned to appreciate the good things in life that come easily to so many, but to others are only a dream.

My parents’ care taught me that success is not just measured by personal achievements but by the positive connections we make and the difference we bring to the lives of those around us. Whether it’s through music, Jewish community, or both, we all have the power to heal.