Jewish religion celebrated in song

Joyce Rudolph

Sam Glaser has found his niche, singing and writing songs that

celebrate the Jewish religion. It was not an overnight discovery.

The first 10 years out of college, he said he struggled trying the


rock-band-trying-to- get-a-record-deal thing.

“That met with limited success, where my first Jewish concert I

had some notoriety right out of the box,” he said. “I was singing

songs that the Jewish world already knew.”


It came down to playing Jewish benefit concerts for 2,000 instead

of dragging 50 people down to the Whiskey A Go-Go in Hollywood, he


He will be playing his songs on the piano, backed by his own band

and the 50-plus member Los Angeles Jewish Symphony at a benefit

concert co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation Valley Alliance at 7

p.m. Sunday at The Alex Theatre.

Joining them on stage will be a community children’s chorus made


up of students from Jewish day schools. The concert will be directed

by Noreen Green, artistic director of the Los Angeles Jewish


Glaser decided in 1990 to combine his music and religion.

“The more I went into that direction, the more I started exploring

myself spiritually and the two energies have sort of dovetailed,” he


In a year, he and his band travel to 50 cities throughout the


world, including stops in Israel performing at synagogues, Jewish

community centers and college campuses. He also makes appearances as

a keynote speaker at religious events on Jewish topics like

spirituality and living the full celebrated existence based on the

teachings of the Torah.

Traveling doesn’t interfere with his family life, he said, as he

is home every other weekend with his wife, Shira, which means song in

Hebrew, and three children.

He emphasized you don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy the music. In

fact, many of his songs are played on Christian stations.

“We’re baffled by it,” he said. “They play mostly the songs sung

in Hebrew.”

But the common thread, he added, is the text in the songs is the

same in the Torah and the Bible.

Eight of the 12 songs to be performed at The Alex on Sunday are

world premieres, freshly orchestrated just for this performance.

“Our show is fun and uplifting, and we get the whole audience

singing and people are dancing in the aisles by the end,” he said.