Our Mission

HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir is a Jewish musical youth movement of 38 choral chapters across the U.S. and Israel. Now entering its 26th year, HaZamir engages hundreds of Jewish teens annually who meet weekly to rehearse high-level Jewish choral music and create a pluralistic peer community. HaZamir prepares the next generation of Jewish choral singers, composers and conductors, builds an inclusive peer community across denominations, and provides a platform for contemporary and classic Jewish choral music.


  • To perform at the highest level of artistic excellence.

  • To strengthen the Jewish identities of HaZamir participants.

  • To model and build a pluralistic community.

  • To cultivate international ties between American and Israeli teens.

  • To create a training ground for a new generation of Jewish leadership.












During the program year, all HaZamir chapters learn the same repertoire developed annually with a curriculum by HaZamir professional staff.  Weekly chapter rehearsals are led by skilled and knowledgeable choral conductors. Annually, HaZamir chapters come together for a four-day Festival in the spring that culminates in a performance at a major concert venue in New York City. Last season’s concert was presented at the Metropolitan Opera House.  The 2018 performance will take place in David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center on March 18th. The HaZamir Israel chapters follow with a second performance in late spring in Israel.

Through HaZamir’s expansive programming, teens with a love for music and talent for singing connect with like-minded peers. They build friendships through the experience and personal challenge of making music together as a choir. HaZamir sets high musical, educational and social standards while by creating a diverse, pluralistic, welcoming, inclusive and affirming experience.Untitled_design_(35).png

The HaZamir Chamber Choir features HaZamir singers (from the U.S. and Israel) who are more musically advanced and are ready for more challenging music. The HaZamir Chamber Choir rehearses and performs as a select ensemble at national events.

The Teen Leader Initiative identifies teens from each chapter, bringing them together several times during the year for 2-3 day training retreats as well as bi-weekly in an on-line forum for learning activities and writing assignments.

HaZamir introduces an educational theme each year around which the musical repertoire is chosen. Study texts and curricula are developed by HaZamir’s Director of Education, Dr. Marsha Bryan Edelman, Professor Emerita of Music and Education at Gratz College, and professor of music at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

HaZa-Prep, the HaZamir Preparatory Program, is the first Jewish choral prep program in America. HaZa-Prep is designed to prepare 7th and 8th graders with the Jewish choral music skills and Hebrew language skills they need to enter into the HaZamir high school program in grade 9. The HaZa-Prep curriculum teaches those skills in an environment that is educational and fun. There are currently 5 HaZa-Prep programs in the northeast in; Baltimore, Bergen County, Boston, Long Island and North Jersey.

The Conductors Training Program gives eligible members of HaZamir, as well as selected HaZamir alumni, the opportunity to learn conducting methodology, gain conducting experience, and study the relationship between text and music from Maestro Matthew Lazar.  We are proud that 5 HaZamir alumni are now leading HaZamir chapters.

Partnering with JOLT: Jewish Online Learning for Teens, a program of the Jewish Community High School of Gratz College, HaZamir offers for juniors and seniors an opportunity to participate in a unique course, based on the HaZamir curriculum that is eligible for three college credits, accepted at more than 70 colleges and universities across North America.

HaZamir Alumni return each year to perform in an alumni ensemble at the HaZamir Gala Concert. Alumni also serve as staff at regional events in the U.S. and Israel as well as the annual HaZamir Festival. HaZamir alumni assume leadership positions, first on campus and then around the world in music and Jewish organizational life; they have entered the ranks of the clergy and assume leadership roles in their communities. In New York, HaZamir alumni were the driving force in the establishment of Zamir Noded.








HaZamir's Professional Leadership

2.pngMatthew Lazar is the Founding Director of the Zamir Choral Foundation and the founder of HaZamir. As the leader of the Jewish choral movement in North America, his superior talents as conductor and interpreter of Jewish music have elevated the standards of Jewish musical performance and educated audiences. In addition to directing the Zamir Chorale, an adult choir, he has also created the Mantua Singers, the Selah Vocal Ensemble, and Shirah: The Community Chorus of the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades. He has inspired the creation of adult choral ensembles throughout the U.S. and, through the Jeanne R. Mandell Fund for New Music, has contributed to the expansion of the choral repertoire through commissions of new music by the finest Jewish composers. Maestro Lazar has also served as guest conductor for multiple symphony orchestras and festivals, and he presents regularly at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the other major concert halls across the U.S. and Israel. He has served on the faculties of Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, is a frequent lecturer and scholar-in-residence, and has made multiple recordings with Zamir and other prominent ensembles.

1.pngVivian Lazar is the Director of HaZamir: The International Jewish Teen Choir. Ms. Lazar was chairman of the English department in a New York City magnet school for the gifted and talented where, for two decades, she taught honors English and dance. Ms. Lazar has created English and writing curricula for private new education initiatives and mentored teachers in the public sector. As an experienced amateur choral singer, Ms. Lazar brings to HaZamir an understanding of the musical and educational value of choral singing. Under her leadership, HaZamir has been increasingly professionalized and has expanded to include a growing number of programs and teens across North America and Israel.







Other Projects of the Zamir Choral Foundation

Founded and directed by Matthew Lazar, the Zamir Choral Foundation (ZCF) is the driving force for sustaining and elevating the Jewish choral tradition in North America. ZCF is the center of a growing network, sponsoring programs, concerts, workshops, festivals and other activities that raise musical standards, and expand the knowledge of and appreciation for Jewish choral music. ZCF’s core programs include:

Zamir Chorale - Founded in 1960, the choir has won acclaim for its superior performances, encompassing the full spectrum of 4 centuries of Jewish choral repertoire. It has commissioned and premiered works by North American and Israeli composers and has appeared with Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim and Elie Wiesel.

The North American Jewish Choral Festival is the premiere Jewish choral event. Held each summer since 1990, the Festival features five days of intensive workshops, study, performances, concerts, with hundreds of amateur and professional singers, conductors, educators, cantors and lovers of Jewish music from across North America and beyond. 

The Jeanne and Irwin Mandell Fund for New Music supports ZCF’s commissioning activities, specifically the composition of new works that are premiered by ZCF ensembles, which become part of the growing Jewish choral repertoire available to choirs worldwide.  Twenty-one commissions, including 4 by Yehezkel Braun, Israel prize winner, have been produced through The Mandell Fund, enriching Zamir’s library of modern choral compositions and the choral repertoire around the world. 

Zamir Noded, ZCF’s newest ensemble provides a high-level musical opportunity for young adults aged 18-30 to rehearse and perform high level Jewish choral music. Noded draws singers from across the tri-state area and beyond.

Performance Missions to Israel - Since 1967 ZCF has regularly led missions to Israel that included musical programs, touring, and interacting with the citizens of Israel.  Zamir ensembles have performed in major concert halls and for residents in a variety of settings, including Beit Levinstein (for injured soldiers), Yad L’Kashish (for the elderly), and the Shalva Center (for children with developmental disabilities, and their families) .  The Zamir Choral Foundation is especially proud to have taken 5 missions to Israel at the height of the second Intifada, when tourism was at an all-time low, and most recently, in August 2018 to celebrate Israel at 70, continuing Zamir's goal of fostering bonds of friendship and support between the North American Jewish community and her brothers and sisters in the Jewish state.