An all-female singing group at Temple Emanuel is stirring the souls of the congregation with three-part harmony and contemporary sounds described by one singer as a sort of "Glee meets choir."
Attendance at the temple on Haggetts Pond Road is up when the 18-member Soul Sisters join Rabbi Robert Goldstein's services, as the group will at 6 p.m., Friday, Jan. 18.
“The Soul Sisters share with each other and have enthusiasm which they bring to their music," Goldstein said. "Our Temple Emanuel community is the richer for their presence."
The group's music director, Israeli singer Gitit Shoval, is also Temple Emanuel’s cantorial soloist.
"She is an Israeli pop star and recording artist who has taken the Soul Sisters to a whole new level. She challenges us and each year we raise the bar a little higher," choir member Tara Satlow of Andover said.
"Our singers have found a renewed sense of connection to our temple. And we’ve developed a fan base of congregants who enjoy coming to services that feature the Soul Sisters," she added.
The Soul Sisters formed in the fall of 2012 when the temple's Sisterhood offered female congregants an opportunity to sing contemporary Jewish music with the cantorial soloist.
The group rehearses weekly at Temple Emanuel, which also has a temple choir that sings during High Holiday services.
Soul Sisters perform about five times a year, sometimes more when they're asked to sing during a Friday evening service at the request of a Bat or Bar Mitzvah family.
The group is comprised of women ranging in age from their 30s to 70s. Some grew up attending Temple Emanuel, while others are new to the community. They have careers in healthcare and human services, as well law, education and business, among others. Some are Jewish and others are married to Jewish spouses and raising Jewish families.
Some Soul Sisters are lifelong singers, while others have never been part of a singing group until now.
"We bring a new twist to the traditional prayers and songs in our services, thanks to Gitit's extraordinary musical arrangements. We also sing secular songs by popular artists. Soul Sisters adds a contemporary sound to services — a sort of 'Glee' meets choir sound," Satlow said.
"Over the past six years we’ve broadened our repertoire," she said. "We sing in three-part harmony and we’ve welcomed many new voices."
Temple services are live streamed, which allows family, friends, and other congregants who can’t attend services to virtually enjoy a Soul Sister service, Satlow said.
"We enjoy representing Temple Emanuel in the community at interfaith services and pulpit exchanges. The Sunday after the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, we performed at a temple in Malden and experienced the healing power of music," Satlow said.
"We also experienced the same powerful feeling when we sang at Temple Emanuel’s Solidarity Shabbat attended by hundreds of people from the Merrimack Valley."
Who they are: The Soul Sisters
Gitit Shoval is Temple Emanuel’s cantorial soloist and the director of Soul Sisters.
The group also includes:
From Andover: Rachel Perlitsh, Betsy Brother, Sara Hinchey, Tara Satlow, Julie Bernstein, Judy Eskin, Heidi Kurland, Michele Belansky, Karen Seifer and Ellen Keller.
From North Andover: Andi Hirth, Kim Cooperstein, Wendy Giblin and Rhea Simon.
From Methuen: Susan Abraham, Meryl Trachtenberg.
Suzanne Emmi or Haverhill.
Karen Shapiro of Pelham, N.H.