Usdan was build on the Jewish principles of justice, ethical responsibility, study, and compassion, with a commitment to creating opportunities for students of all faiths and backgrounds. "The idea of tzedakah, of righteousness and justice" says Board chair John Usdan "is at the core of why Usdan was founded. The very essence of what this place is about is fairness and opportunity."
Since 2016, the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts music program has included the contributions and compositions of Cantor Randall Schloss as part of its music program. Using a unique blend of styles, Cantor Schloss' music aims to both engage both the young singers and the listeners in an exploration of what it is to have faith, commitment and virtue — all tied to the Jewish, and universal, values on which Usdan was founded.
His first songs for Usdan —“L’cha N’ran’na” (which means “Let’s Sing”) and “Hallelujah”— were presented on the McKinley Amphitheater by Junior and Senior Chorus members as part of our Festival performances. Now, for Usdan’s 50th anniversary, Cantor Schloss returns to camp to deepen the conversation about faith, virtue, art and community. His third work, premiered this summer when Usdan choral students took the stage, examines the expression and support of social justice issues through art.
Cantor Schloss began his journey into the world of Jewish music in 2000 as a singer and composer following a varied career in music as a classical singer both on the opera stage and in concert, as a teacher of voice and music theory, and as a choral conductor and music director. His music combine traditional liturgy and modern poetry with musical elements of eastern European nusach and chazzanut, Israeli and Sephardic folk music, classical and twentieth century Reform repertoire and contemporary pop and jazz. Cantor Schloss received his ordination and a Masters Degree in Sacred Music from the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from Cornell University and a Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. He is currently the Cantor of Temple Israel of New Rochelle and serves on the Executive Board of the American Conference of Cantors.