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New Year, New Song: Shira Kobren & Noam Oren Discuss “Choose Love”

September 6, 2023 | General News | Worship and High Holidays

We’re proud to share the world premiere of the music video of Shira Kobren’s new song for the High Holy Days, “Choose Love,” directed by Noam Oren. Featuring additional vocals by Cantor Dan Mutlu and Cantor Jenna Pearsall, as well as on-camera appearances from Central members and staff, “Choose Love” was filmed on-site at Central Synagogue. We recently sat down with Shira and Noam to ask about the song's connection to the Central community, the inspiration behind the music and video, their hopes for the new year, and more.

CENTRAL: What is “Choose Love” about, and what inspired you to write this song? 

SHIRA: “Choose Love” is based on the Yom Kippur Vidui or Ashamnu prayer, in which we recount the sins we may have committed and ask God’s forgiveness. It occurred to me that learning to lead with love would help us avoid these kinds of transgressions. I wanted the lyrics to reflect the prayer and included some of the same wrongdoings. I also used “we” instead of “I” to invoke the sense of community, just as the prayer does. 

CENTRAL: You wrote a song for last year’s High Holy Days, “Know Who Came Before.” What is it about this time of year that inspires you as a songwriter?

SHIRA: I feel that a lot of the High Holy Day liturgy contains very big ideas that might be difficult for kids to grasp. The focus of my work at Central has always been making Judaism accessible to our youngest members and their families, so I have started to reframe some of those big ideas using words and concepts that kids can understand. 

CENTRAL: How did you come up with the concept for the music video?

NOAM: We wanted to play on the concept of Yom Kippur as a blank slate, which we can fill with fresh ideas and intentions for the new year. The white background and shirts were a combination of thoughts from Shira and me. I love the idea that the canvas belongs to the whole community, and that even after the video is finished, others will be able to add their own commitments for the new year.

CENTRAL: Speaking of community – is anyone else from the Central community involved?

SHIRA: I’m lucky to have Cantors Dan Mutlu and Jenna Pearsall sing on this track with me. Their voices are beautiful. When my long-time producer Julian Cassia moved overseas, Will Salwen from Central’s Production Department stepped in to engineer our recording sessions while Julian directed on Zoom. For the video, we’re excited to include so many staff members and congregants! Of course, I feel very lucky to have Noam, who is such a talented filmmaker and collaborator, help bring the video to life.

NOAM: This is very much a collaborative effort, beautifully orchestrated by Shira. The concept for the video would be devoid of life without capturing the spontaneity of everyone involved – the laughing, smiling, and embracing of the moment. It was a gift to see how this community rose to the challenge and contributed their time to the piece.  

CENTRAL: Amazing! What do you hope people take away from “Choose Love?”

NOAM: As someone who now officially has this song stuck in my head, I hope it serves as a mantra for those hard moments when you are frustrated, scared, or angry. I’ve already had multiple experiences where I changed my reaction to a situation because I had “Choose Love” reverberating in my mind. I’m very thankful for that.

CENTRAL: One last question for you both: How do you plan to “choose love” in 5784?

NOAM: This year, I’ll choose to believe in my abilities and trust my intuition.

SHIRA: I am going to try to choose love by taking the time to listen, and not just hear.  

Thank you, Shira and Noam – and yasher koach on a wonderful song and video! May we endeavor to carry the message of “Choose Love” into the new year.

“Choose Love” will be released on all major streaming platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, etc) on September 6. Shira will also play it live at our Early Childhood Yom Kippur Services. Want to join Central for the High Holy Days? Visit our online guide to learn more.

Noam Oren, behind the scenes

Will Salwen, Cantor Jenna Pearsall, Cantor Dan Mutlu, and Shira Kobren record "Choose Love"

Noam kneels to grab the perfect shot of Central members

Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Shira Kobren, and Rabbi Rebecca Rosenthal are all smiles during the video shoot

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