On the evening of Nov. 19, students gathered in the Martin Luther Hall Underground to watch performers take the stage for Hillel’s Open Mic Night. Hosted by Ayden Levine ‘23 and Samuel Brown ‘23, Hillel’s social co-chairs, the event was a huge success, with dozens of students coming to watch.
The night started off with a stellar performance by the Chaimonics, Muhlenberg’s very own Jewish a cappella group. They sang “Salaam” by Mosh Ben-Ari, “No excuses” by Meghan Trainor and “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel. The group made the audience excited for the following acts: singing performances by students Olivia Tebsherany ‘23 and Alyssa Kaplan ‘25, a stand-up comedy skit by Hadas Bromberg Seltzer ‘24 and Shachar Kessler ‘22 and a spectacular tap performance by Maya Rabinowitz ‘24 and Danielle Azuolay ‘22.
“Every Sunday growing up, at the end of Hebrew school, the whole school would gather in the lobby and sing Hatikvah together as a way to end the day as a Jewish community.”-Aevyn Barnett ’22
A particular performance by Aidan Weingrad ‘25 and Bryce Miller ‘25 was a favorite amongst the crowd. Levine commented, “The best part of the night was when Bryce sang ‘House of the Rising Sun’ while Aidan played the guitar, and let me tell you, when Bryce started singing those high notes, everyone’s jaw dropped. Oh my gosh. We were all speechless.”
When asked about what inspired them to host the event, co-host Levine replied, “Sam and I really just wanted to create a space for people to show off their talents and be supported in a low-stakes environment. There are so many talented people on this campus but oftentimes students don’t feel comfortable putting themselves out there because of how much pressure there is. We had so many people sign up that aren’t involved in anything theater- or singing-related and most of whom I didn’t even know could sing, and I’m so glad that Sam and I could give them a space to be vulnerable and show off their skills. I hope our performers felt how proud we were of them.” In this regard, it definitely showed through, as, whenever Brown and Levine introduced the next performer, they had huge smiles of excitement on their faces.
Brown added, “I was so happy with Open Mic Night! I think the performers were outstanding and everybody seemed to have a great time. Getting to introduce all the performers was my favorite part of the event!”
Hillel president, Paige Weisburg ‘23, was also happy with the event. She sang “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse, and expressed, “It was so exciting to sing for a community I love so much! Watching a successful event happen makes me so proud!” She added that something that she loved the most about Muhlenberg was that, “The Jewish community and even non-Jewish members of the community love to empower and support their friends. It was so amazing to see everyone come out!”
“There are so many talented people on this campus but oftentimes students don’t feel comfortable putting themselves out there because of how much pressure there is.”-Ayden Levine ’23
The night ended with a heartwarming performance by Aevyn Barnett ‘22, who came up to the microphone and told the audience how, “Every Sunday growing up, at the end of Hebrew school, the whole school would gather in the lobby and sing Hatikvah (the Israeli national anthem) together as a way to end the day as a Jewish community. I haven’t had that experience since I graduated high school, and so I chose to sing that song as a way to bring that sense of community to the audience members at the event.” First, they sang their own English translation of the song, so that those who didn’t fluently speak Hebrew could understand the lyrics. Then, they asked the audience to stand and join them in singing Hatikvah. Thus, ensued the swell of dozens of voices around the room singing, creating a wonderful sense of community at the event. “I was so happy to see how great the reception was to Hatikvah! Aevyn did such an amazing job and I think that was a great moment for the community,” Brown said.
Levine expressed, “I hope that everyone who attended had as much fun as Sam and I did. It was nice to have that space for the hour to just be together and enjoy the moment. And I think a misconception about Hillel is that it’s only for Jewish people. While, yes it is a space for Jewish students, it is not a space solely for Jewish students. And I think that’s a huge part of my job as Social Chair. A lot of the events that Sam and I plan aren’t inherently Jewish per sé, and I view our programming as the door to open up Hillel to the rest of campus. I really hope that anyone of any religious background or no religious background feels welcome to stop by any Hillel event and see what we’re all about!”