Meet Ben: Jewish Musician of the Week

by Rachel Kriegsman / November 11, 2020

Ben Pagliaro is a master of mixing his love of music with Judaism. His debut album, Ehyeh, drops early next year. Read this week’s 1:1 interview to learn more about Ben, his dream day in DC, and his adorable sidekick Motzi Lechem.

Rachel: What brought you to DC and what made you stay?

Ben: I came to DC with my wife, Rabbi Bailey Romano, who got a job with a synagogue in Alexandria. Since I’ve been in the area, I have had lots of opportunities to connect with the Jewish community as a songleader and have enjoyed living in Shaw.

Rachel: I hear you’re a musician. Tell us about your music!  

Ben: I discovered my passion for leading music at Jewish camp (URJ Eisner Camp) and got my degree in Music Theory at the University of Delaware. I’ve spent the last 5 years leading worship in congregations from Israel to California, New York, North Carolina, and Ohio. And, of course, here in the DC area! You can learn more about me and my music on my website.

Rachel: Describe your dream day in DC from start to finish. 

Ben: My dream day would be a Shabbat when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I would start with a walk through Theodore Roosevelt Island, get a delicious lunch at Right Proper, go to a museum I haven’t been to yet, and end my day by coming back to the “word of mouth bar” hole-in-the-wall bar in Shaw called 600T

Rachel: What do you do to relax or for fun at the end of a long week?

Ben: I created a group on Facebook called Sacred Space where Jewish musicians, artists, and clergy collaborate to create virtual worship moments. I find this both fun and relaxing at the end of a long day. I also love picking up my guitar on Shabbat and writing a new Jewish tune (sometimes with a sip of Rowan’s Creek in hand).

Rachel: Do you have a Jewish role model who inspires you?

Ben: Dan Nichols is my Jewish role model. He has written some of the best Jewish music I’ve ever heard. He makes a point of meeting everyone where they are and creating experiences where everyone gets involved.

Rachel: Anything else you’d like to share with the DC Jewish community?

Ben: I’m releasing my debut album on January 1, 2021 called “Ehyeh” meaning “it will be.” I’m hoping that it’s something that will give people hope and inspire Jewish communities to continue dreaming of what’s possible and to innovate in this crazy time.

Ben with his cat, Motzi Lechem

Rachel: Complete this sentence – “When Jews of DC Gather…

Ben: They are better for it. DC can feel like a big place and you can feel like a drop in the bucket. But when you gather with other Jews, you are reminded that there is value in being Jewish and connecting to something bigger than yourself.



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