Camp Newmans song for Israel spreads across the Internet

It may not be No. 1 with a bullet — yet — but a new song about Jewish solidarity in times of war has spread across the Internet as a popular download. And it all started at Camp Newman, the Jewish summer camp in Santa Rosa.

“Kol Yisrael (We Are All Connected)” was written by Josh Zweiback, associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, and Ken Chasen, a rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles.

Zweiback is a fixture at Camp Newman. Last summer, just for fun he and Chasen hauled up to the camp a mini-Abbey Road’s worth of recording equipment. The reason: to record an original song performed by campers and staffers.

That worked out so well, earlier this year the two wrote another song for Newman campers.

Just before Zweiback headed for Camp Newman, he led a trip to Israel, attended by 46 Beth Am congregants. The group even traveled to the northern border. “We brought care packages to the soldiers there,” he recalls. “I asked one if it bothered him when we do this. He said, ‘No, it’s so boring up here. We love having visitors.’ That was the Wednesday before the war broke out.”

By the time he returned home the following Sunday, Hezbollah’s rain of rockets had required a musical change of plans.

“After the war broke out, we knew we had to do something else,” says Zweiback. “We spent a few more days finishing [Kol Yisrael] arranging it, getting things ready.”

When Zweiback and Chasen arrived at Newman eight days after the start of the war, camp directors had begun planning a special Yom Yisrael Day. That provided a hook for the rockin’ rabbis’ new song “Kol Yisrael.”

The lyrics read in part: “When you stumble/I fall/We’re not that separate at all/In your danger/I fear/So far apart and yet so near.”

“We saw it as a sort of dialogue,” notes Zweiback. “It’s a conversation between Israel and the diaspora: ‘Whatever happens to you I feel, in good times and bad.'”

Over the course of three days, they converted a cabin into a studio and auditioned campers to perform the tune. “We went into high gear,” says Zweiback. “We put in half a dozen Israeli counselors, some of whom were from the north. There was a very emotional moment recording the chorus: They spontaneously put their arms around each other. It gave me chills.”

As soon as the recording was mixed and burned onto a CD, the rabbis ran it over to Camp Newman’s outdoor amphitheater. There they played it for the assembled campers, who quickly started singing along. The next night, all the kids who sang on the record performed it live before an audience of 500.

From there, with a few clicks of a mouse, Zweiback put the song on the Internet for free downloading. It is available at numerous Web sites, including those of Camp Newman,, Congregation Beth Am and the Jewish children’s magazine BabagaNewz.

“We were so pleased with how it came out,” says Zweiback, “we wanted to show off the amazing spirit. So we put it up as a free download.”

Though he has no official count, Zweiback says the song has spread across the Web, and has been downloaded consistently over the past month or so.

Both rabbis are happy that the campers had a chance to do something more worthwhile than making lanyards or friendship bracelets. And they’re even more gratified to have contributed to the effort to support Israel during a time of crisis.

“When you try to make a difference you ask, ‘What needs fixing and what am I good at?'” says Zweiback. “Then you try to find a connection. I’m not sure anybody needed another song, but I’m grateful I had the opportunity to be part of this.”

To hear and download “Kol Yisrael (We Are All Connected),” go to

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.