Congregation Sha’aray Shalom turns 60 this year!!
Stay tuned for a schedule of events for our year-long celebration – Concerts, Learning, Special Services, Dinners and so much more…!
Like my fellow travelers, I wrote a reflection which I tossed aside as I asked the same question posed at the end of Susan’s photo montage we just saw. Like David, I didn’t know, I did not know, but now that I do, what can we do?
I was reminded of a piece that we learned from my teacher and friend, Cantor Ellen Dreskin, at a prayer and study retreat I attended last September, that may be appropriate for this evening’s service theme to raise consciousness and hopefully inspire. It was composed with Jewish singer songwriter, Dan Nichols. Here is how it came about:
Over the years, Ellen had noticed discomfort among many with the wording in Aleinu L’shabei’ach (it’s on us, to praise), the prayer at the end of communal worship. We bow in acknowledgement that we have a unique obligation, that we are not the same as others, that we are special; many have seen this as chutzpa-dik…a holier than thou kind of statement. Perhaps this is not about privilege, says Ellen, but about responsibility.
In Ellen’s words, “ I hear Aleinu as an expression of appreciation for my community’s assumed responsibility for the betterment of the world. I am obligated L’shabei’ach/to sing praise. In reality, the attempt to live in that way IS the praise. We say Aleinu at the end of the service, with one foot out the door, to gather communal strength for the journey and be reminded of that responsibility. This may be my favorite prayer of all,” she says. “Especially in these troubled times, there is great work to be done.”
Dan shares the following:
“Ellen and I got together for a couple of days of creative work focused on what’s going on with Aleinu L’shabei’ach. Here’s what we came up with:
If Bar’chu at the beginning of the service can be thought of as “the call to worship,” then it might be reasonable to think of Aleinu at the end of the service as a “call to action.” We have shared our communal redemption story through moments such as Mi Chamocha; we have remembered the deeds and faith of our ancestors in the Amidah, and we have re energized our spirits in communal expression of our dreams and visions. Hopefully, it has had some impact and changes us for the good. With that in mind, we crafted an English setting for Aleinu L’shabei’ach that intends to unpack the core themes of our responsibility and the world’s need for action.”
I hope these new words and melody may help to give us new meaning as we follow this with our traditional chanting of Aleinu. The words are in your handout.
Twice this year I have stood surrounded by my people. Once secular, at GenCon (largest tabletop gaming convention in North America), and once spiritual, at the URJ Biennial in Boston this past December. There is an indescribable joy in being surrounded by those who understand you and whose stories are like your own. We all experience it on a small scale at services and temple events. It is something else when it is at a convention hall full of people. It is easy to forget, living in the Northeast, how few we are. We should embrace the opportunities we have to congregate.
To say I am glad that Adrian and I went would be an understatement. The week at Biennial was full of learning, spiritual growth, and the opportunity to make new friends. I spoke with Jews from California to South Africa. Adrian made a new friend from NJ. There were classes on all aspects synagogue life, and many worship opportunities. It is the latter that were my favorites. The weekday services, though very early, were
well attended and spiritually uplifting. Though the Friday service, with its 6,000 attendees, was an experience, my heart belongs to the smaller services. It amazed me to see the variety of ways that Reform Jews worship. I even saw both men and women wearing tefillin. It reminded me what differentiates us from the other Jewish movements, and what makes the Reform movement so exceptional and welcoming.
The classes varied widely and covered all aspects of synagogue life. They ranged from diversity and inclusivity to finances. If anything, there were too many good options to choose from. That’s not to say all were perfect. I went to seminars that inspired and ones that I could have slept through. This happens at all large conventions where you have a variety and depth of speakers. What is important to me is that that I left most of them with something useful or a new insight.
I don’t know that I’ll go to the biennial in Chicago, but I would not miss another opportunity to attend a biennial so close to home.
Saturday, January 20, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Have you ever wondered what Cantors enjoy singing when they are not on the bimah?
Many of us dream of singing on Broadway…..whether is it Jean Valjean or Les Miserables, or donning the mask and playing the Phantom, Broadway music has always been an important element of my career.
Add to that the enjoyment of welcoming fantastically talented friends and colleagues to join in song and you have the makings of an amazing evening of music.
Please join us on Saturday, January 20 at 7:30 pm for ENCORE! An evening of new and classic Broadway music. I will be joined by my good friends Cantor Nancy Kassel, Cantor Judy Seplowin and Cantor Vladimir Lapin for an evening of Broadway tunes. We will once again be joined by Steven Hemingway on the piano.
Wine and desserts will be available as well as a silent auction, with all proceeds to benefit Congregation Sha’aray Shalom.
It promises to be an amazing evening of music…..please join us!!
Another year, another Cantors’ concert! On Saturday, January 20, we had the joy of hearing
Cantors Steven Weiss, Judy Seplowin (Temple Beth El of Providence, RI), Nancy Kassel (Temple Beth Tikvah of Roswell, GA), and Vladimir Lapin (Temple Beth El of Great Neck, NY) sing accompanied on the piano by the ever-appreciated Steven Hemingway.
The evening began with a walk on the red carpet complete with a chance at a paparazzi photo. The social hall had been converted into an awards-themed cabaret in red, black, and gold. Fairy lights and white roses decorated the tables, adding an ethereal beauty to the room when the lights were turned down.
Once all were seated and quiet, never an easy task with a room full of people enjoying each other’s company, we were treated to the comic stylings of our congregation’s president, Scott Garland, who was dressed to the nines for the evening and introduced the event. Cantor Weiss and his fellow cantors then performed a range of Broadway music. There were songs from Rent to Spamalot to Ragtime. It was heartwarming to watch the audience stand for their rendition of God Bless America.
It was a lovely evening of music and socializing.
This was timely, as the Torah portion that week was about Noah. The religious theme pervaded the day. The Rabbi, Cantor, and religious school students studied Torah and learned about how Judaism teaches us to care for animals. The Rabbi and Cantor also offered a blessing for our pets, and said kaddish for pets we have lost. There was also a fun craft project making rainbow arks run by some of our teens along with the chance to make misheberach cards and thank you cards. In the spirit of Tikkun Olam, we raised money and gathered donations for the Scituate animal shelter, whose representatives informed us about the animals waiting for “forever” homes.
We can’t wait to do this again next year!