Inspiring the Next Generation Through Song

Rabbi's Message - April 19, 2022


Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

My most formative Jewish moments have been with Dan Nichols.  At Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) in Zionsville, Indiana, Dan was a legend even before he reached legendary status.  He was the most sought after “lights out” program, serenading young campers to sleep with his guitar as they listened to him sing Harry Chapin songs and sang the evening Shema.  Dan has always been full of joy, kindness, inspiration, and enthusiasm, and he set the bar for Jewish music.  While Dan says that he, himself, “is a product of Jewish summer camping,” Dan has also been a catalyst for the next generation of campers who are discovering their own love of Judaism through his music.  The joy I feel when I see our campers, including my own children, go a bit crazy singing and dancing to Dan’s uplifting song sessions is indescribable.  I guess you will have to experience it yourself!

Dan will be with us this Shabbat, joining us on our (newly renovated) bimah followed by a Post-Passover Pizza Party and concert.  Dan’s liturgical and contemporary Jewish music spans generations and the talent he brings is truly a gift to us all.  Young or old, you will not want to miss this.  Dan is classically trained singer.  He has a background in opera and has experience as a cantorial soloist.  He received his Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance at the University of North Carolina. Then, in 1995, Dan realized the potential of music to make powerful connections with Jewish youth and established the Jewish rock band Eighteen. Since that time, Dan and Eighteen have released 13 albums and several of his songs have become Jewish communal anthems throughout North America.  
Dan has an impressive amount of experience.  He has toured over 190 days a year for the last 20 years, where he often serves as artist-in-residence and teacher for congregations and camp communities. He has served on the faculty of Hava Nashira since 2001. In 2009 he co-founded Shulhouse Rock, a songleading workshop for Jewish high-school students. He has performed live in Israel at the historic fortress of Masada and in the studio for the groundbreaking XM Radio presentation of Radio Hanukkah. In addition to these highlights, Dan has been featured at conferences and conventions of nearly every major Jewish movement, including the URJ Biennial, NFTY Convention, BBYO International, Limmud and the Wexner Heritage Program. 
In addition to his musical talent, Dan is a creative story teller who is deeply dedicated to tikkun olam.  He created the "Road to Eden Deep South Sukkot Tour" to bring the message of Sukkot to communities in the southern United States, where he and his band played 11 shows in 10 days.  Their experiences are captured in the documentary film, Road to Eden.
Get a taste of Dan’s heartfelt music and learn more about his successful career:
Watch videos of Dan sharing his powerful, soulful Jewish music with the world: