Participants in "Hallelujah," a global song contest for Jews aged 16 to 26, are starting to feel the pressure as rehearsals get into full swing. Event organizers are hoping that their endeavor will establish a new musical tradition for world Jewry that will strengthen the connection with the Diaspora.Hallelujah is a new version of a nearly 20-year-old Hebrew song contest for young Jews from across the globe, amped up for the Internet age. The grand finale, which will be webcast live on JPost.com, will take place on August 25 in Ramat Hasharon in front of an audience of 3,000 people. The semi finals will take place this Wednesday and Thursday and will also be shown on JPost.com.The 30 finalists are currently in Israel for rehearsals and to tour the country.You can listen to the contestants, and will soon be able to cast your votes, via the website or the Facebook page.There is also a special Youtube page which features the latest rehearsals and performances.“This is much more than just another reality show,” says Eitan Gafni, the competition’s founder and head producer. “It fosters a love of Hebrew songs among young people from around the world. It starts out in the Jewish communities of the Diaspora, and then moves to Israel. It’s not just about the music and the artistry, but about the heart and the soul. In these songs there is the story of this country, and the feelings of those who built it.”Although the contestants chose mostly contemporary songs, Gafni says, rather than anything biblical, “they all have the experience of singing in the Hebrew language.”Although the experience and the exposure are surely the biggest draw for the participants, there are also cash prizes. The winner will receive an $8,000 cash prize and record a duet with an Israeli artist that will be broadcast on local radio stations and Jewish radio stations worldwide.The two will also go on a concert tour of international Jewish communities. The runner-up will receive $4,000, and the third-place finalist will win $2,000.The finalists represent Jewish communities from the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, France, Australia, Argentina, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Turkey, Costa Rica and Uruguay. There is also one Israeli, Mor Machlav of the IDF Education Corps.As they tour the country, they will be accompanied by musicians and artists, as well as staff from the IDF Cultural Department and the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music.The team of judges will be headed by veteran singer Yehoram Gaon and includes such well-known musicians and producers as Kobi Oshrat, Hanan Yovel, Yehuda Edar, Tomer Hadadi, DJ Skazi, Niv Tomer and Gafni.