Sophie Berkal-Sarbit (Elaine Halpert)
In a world full of contests such as the Idol franchise, or Britain/America Has Talent or the upcoming X Factor, one global competition is a bit different. It's called Hallelujah and is a singing contest for Jewish singers from around the world. Thousands of hopeful contestants between the ages of 16 and 26 were narrowed down to a shortlist of 30 and one of the finalists is former Winnipegger and well known jazz singer, Sophie Berkal-Sarbit.
She's on her way to Israel to prepare for the competition that will occupy the singers for three weeks and culminate in a major televised concert.
Over the next 27 days, the participants will rehearse their songs daily with professional Israeli musicians, tour the country and will face another competition where only 12 singers will remain.
The final concert will take place in Ramat Hasharon, a city near Tel Aviv and will be televised internationally. Performers will perform their songs in Hebrew. The ultimate winner will be picked by a panel of seven judges made up of well respected Israeli artists and music industry giants.
SCENE asked Sophie what doing this competition means to her.
"I came across this wonderful singing contest by accident. I was recording Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and found the link to this international competition which was encouraging Jewish youth in the diaspora to return to their roots. What a great opportunity I thought, to meet singers from around the world. It also raises the bar for me to sing in another language.
This competition will allow me to bond with other musical talents and at the same time we get to tour the land of Israel, which will also be very inspiring. I'm a bit apprehensive about the language challenge but the song I have selected called Song of Yearning speaks to my own interest in returning to Israel and singing something which has a slight cantorial slant to it. My late grandfather was a Rabbi and a Cantor and he would have been so proud. My other grandfather was born in Israel almost a hundred years ago."
Here's the song Sophie hopes to perform in Israel. It's called Shir Ga'aguim or Song of Yearning.