Pizmon Chanukah concert in Mobile a homecoming for Pensacola’s Ripps

A first-year student at Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, Pensacola’s Hannah Ripps is coming home at the beginning of winter break and bringing a bunch of friends with her.

She is a member of Pizmon, a co-ed Jewish a capella group that will perform at Ahavas Chesed in Mobile on Dec. 8. The group consists of students from Columbia, Barnard and JTS. They sing a variety of different genres including liturgical pieces, Israeli rock and pop, English parodies, Yiddish classics, and children’s songs.

The 7 p.m. Mayer Mitchell Memorial Concert is free and open to the community. Because of Ripps’ presence, the Pensacola Jewish Federation is chartering a bus that will leave Temple Beth-El at 5:30 p.m.

Ripps said she is “really excited to bring the group down to see the community in which I was raised.”

She started singing “once I figured out how to use my vocal chords,” and started out entertaining guests on Friday night while her father played the guitar.

In third grade she joined the Pensacola Children’s Chorus, where she performed for six years until attending the American Hebrew Academy in North Carolina. “I knew I would miss chorus but would continue to perform in shows put on by AHA’s theatre department,” she said.

During her sophomore year, her parents hosted three Pizmon members, while she joined AHAcapella at her school. The next year, Magevet, a Jewish a capella group from Yale, performed at the academy, and “I decided then that a capella was the extracurricular activity that I had to include in my college schedule.”

The professional reputation of Pizmon attracted her, but at the auditions she realized how much fun the group members have together “and I really wanted to be a part of that.”

She said the group acts “as Jewish role models and we show the communities that we travel to how music can play a huge part in a person’s Jewish life.”

Ripps is currently enrolled in the Double Degree program with Barnard and JTS. She hasn’t decided what she want to pursue at Barnard, but is “fairly set” on studying Jewish art and visual culture at JTS.

In March 2011, Pizmon did a Southern tour, visiting Atlanta, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Pensacola and New Orleans.

Pizmon will be in Mobile for Shabbat, joining the 9:30 a.m. service on Dec. 8 at Ahavas Chesed. There will be a free deli lunch afterwards, but advance reservations are required.