The legendary founders of contemporary Jewish folk music group Kol B’Seder, Rabbi Dan Freelander and Cantor Jeff Klepper, visit the Seekers of Meaning Podcast on the eve of the group’s 50th anniversary, to discuss changes in contemporary Jewish music since the 1960s, and share some of their favorite compositions, including Modeh Ani, Shalom Rav, and others.
About the Guests
Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander served the North American Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) as a staff member since 1975. As a NFTY Director, UAHC Regional Director, North American Director of Programme and URJ Senior Vice President, he provided creative vision and management to dozens of programs and projects, including URJ Biennial conferences, music and worship initiatives and publications, camping and Israel programs. A gifted musician, Freelander is well known for lecturing on trends in Reform synagogue life. Together with Cantor Jeff Klepper, he has composed dozens of popular Jewish melodies including the well-known “Shalom Rav” and “Lo Alecha.”
Jeff Klepper is a cantor and influential figure within Contemporary Jewish religious music, particularly the “American nusach” scene. He has performed with Rabbi Dan Freelander as part of the group Kol B’Seder since 1972. Their melody for Shalom Rav is the most popularly sung in the denominations of Judaism where many prayers are sung rather than chanted. His compositions have been preserved in the Milken Archive of Jewish Music.
Jeff was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and earned a master’s degree in music from Northeastern Illinois University. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music from HUC-JIR in 2005. He co-edited the song section in the Reform prayer book, Mishkan T’filah, and co-founded (with Debbie Friedman) the annual Hava Nashira song-leader workshop.
Raised in New York City, Jeff Klepper began playing the guitar at an early age and was strongly influenced by the folk music of Pete Seeger. Prior to his bar mitzvah, Jeff studied with the legendary synagogue composer Abraham Wolf Binder, gaining an appreciation for music of the synagogue.
Jeff is a member of the faculty of Hebrew College in Newton, MA. He recently served as a music editor for Mishkan T’filah, the new Reform movement siddur. Jeff and his family live in West Roxbury.