They sang to win at Israel Fest

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The eight competitors for JVoice, at the Bender Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington’s Israel Fest. Photo by Samantha Cooper

Visitors to Israel Fest in Rockville last week danced and sang along to eight local singers trying to win the JVoice competition.

Contestant Andrea Hancock, who goes by the stage name Senorita Sunshine, was one of the professional singers at the May 19 celebration of Israel, held at the Bender Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington.


She sang the Martha and the Vandellas hit “Dancing in the Street.”

She said she learned about the competition from a friend, who encouraged her to enter. “My goal is to engage all people in music,” she said. “It’s the universal language.”

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Throughout the afternoon, families took shelter from the sun and heat inside tents, while children splashed in the kiddie pool. They cooled off with shaved ice and watermelon wedges.

On stage, the competitors sang in a variety of styles. Lena Goldweber sang “Poor Wandering One” from
“Pirates of Penzance”; Dara Blecher, a fifth grader at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, belted out “When I was Your Man” by Bruno Mars; Davida Goldman and Ruet Choen each sang an Israeli pop song; while Susan Kleit sang the Dionne  Warwick hit “What the World Needs Now.”


Fifth-grader Isabelle Stein sang “How Far I’ll Go,” from the Disney movie “Moana.” The judges awarded her the runner up position.

Isabelle, who takes singing lessons, said she loves the movie. “I love singing,” she said. “I was really excited to compete.”

That left the winner to be announced. In the end, the microphone-shaped trophy and a check for $300 went to Royalty Thee Artist, who sang an a capella rendition of “I Am Changing” from the Broadway show “Dreamgirls.”

“I just heard about [JVoice] and thought I would try it out,” he told WJW. “It felt great to win.”

Other sponsors of Israel Fest included the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the Israeli American Council. Washington Jewish Week was media sponsor.

Phil Williams and Dina Torok said they’ve been coming to Israel Fest “for years. We love the food and the arts and crafts,” Torok said.

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