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A Song of Service

Words can convey just so much. But when we put them to music, we create songs that evoke emotions, provide mood, create immediate community, and help us to remember the meaning those words carry.

It’s not every day that we have an opportunity to create a work of such magnitude. But JWB Jewish Chaplains Council (JWB)—along with the Jewish War Veterans and the American Conference of Cantors—is sponsoring just such an effort with a contest setting the words of prayer to song.

JWB is asking that cantors, musicians, chaplains and others create “A Song of Service,” an original cantorial work based on the Prayer for the United States Armed Forces that appears in the new edition of the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council Siddur.

“Setting the prayer to music will encourage congregations to include it each week during Shabbat services,” says Rabbi Irving Elson, director of JWB. “Regardless of denomination or affiliation within the American Jewish community, this prayer will remind us all that our America freedoms do not come without risk and cost. And that those who defend them should never be far from our prayers and our hearts.”

JWB encourages entrants to be creative. Whether inspired by the music of our tradition, popular song, or other musical genres, they should create something that reflects the pride and glory of our country, and that will uplift Jews across our nation.

Submissions must:

  • Be an original composition
  • Use either the English or Hebrew version of the prayer, or incorporate both.
  • Include the entire prayer, or just part of it
  • Include the musical score and a recording of the song

Submissions are due by March 1, 2018 and the winner will be announced by the end of that month.

The winner will:

  • receive a cash prize of $1,250
  • have their musical composition officially published by Transcontinental Music Publications (Courtesy of the American Conference of Cantors)
  • be invited to perform the prayer for the first time at JCCs of North America Biennial in Memphis in May 2018

The chosen cantorial rendition will become the official prayer for U.S. Armed Forces.

The entries will be judged by a national panel of cantors and Jewish military chaplains representing the three major Jewish movements in North America. The winning prayer will be offered to all synagogues affiliated with the Rabbinical Council of America, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Rabbinical Assembly as the official prayer for our armed forces.

Entries need to include the name and contact information of the person submitting, a digital file (mp.3) of the work and a copy of the sheet music in .pdf format. All materials can all be submitted below or through the mail to:

JWB Jewish Chaplains Council
Cantorial Contest
520 Eight Avenue, fourth floor
New York, New York 10018

All rights to the winning composition will be retained by JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. Copies of the prayer from the JWB siddur are included with this announcement. JWB thanks Rabbi Gerald Skolnik for contributing the Prayer for the United States Armed Forces, and for translating the prayer into Hebrew. Download our official statement on the contest here.

For more information, contact


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