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63http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/09/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---09_02_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 09_02_2011
09/01/2011 06:52 PM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
September 2, 2011

 

When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, they sang to God (Exodus 15:1ff). Ever since, song has expressed our thanks, hopes, desires, and praises to God. In Hebrew, “song” and “poem” are the same words. Thus, Moses also recited a poem to the Israelites in one of his last orations to them (Deuteronomy 31:30ff). And, in Psalms there are many invitations to “sing” to God. Imagine the harp, lyre, and flute bursting with sound to express the Israelites’ blessings.

                Psalm 96, begins, “Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth.” On Friday night, August 26th, in our sanctuary, 950 people sang new songs to God. Imagine hundreds of individual worshipers quickly becoming a worshiping and singing congregation. It felt like we touched all the earth.

                Jazz Shabbat was a celebration of our prayers enriched by the music of our times. Cantor Daniel Mutlu, who joined our clergy team at Beth Israel on July 1, 2011, chose musical settings, arranged many of the pieces for choir and instruments, and prepared an hour of worship with our rabbis. It was relaxing, inspiring, and engaging.

                Lecha Dodi welcomed the Sabbath into our hearts and our homes. Mi Chamocha, from the Song of the Sea, was triumphant. It lifted our spirits as Cantor Mutlu reached each note with care and finesse. The choir was “hip” and the instrumentalists provided perfect accompaniment. V’shameru was stirring and many worshipers sang openly. Others closed their eyes to hear the notes and harmonies that brought new color and meaning to their favorite prayers. Shalom Rav was a perfect entrée to silent prayer. It set us down in a moment where personal reflection on the blessings of this Shabbat came into focus. Then Cantor Mutlu eased us out of our silent meditations with a soft and stirring Sim Shalom.

                When I came to the pulpit to share a Shabbat message, I explained to the congregation that my prepared words were no longer suitable. I was inspired to share my feelings about the evening’s music and prayerful setting. In the Torah portion of the week, Re’eh, which means “see”, I taught that we can see in many ways. Not only with our eyes, but also with our ears we can hear and understand. But, some of us also shed tears that we wiped from our eyes. I saw it around the sanctuary. In the midst of God’s creative acts, God said to the Israelites, “See, this day the blessings and the curses…” In effect, God said, wipe away your tears of awe so that you might see the blessings before you. And, if you don’t wipe them away and see, then you won’t avail yourselves of God’s blessings. Instead, you’ll come to know a life without them; a life of curses. Music on Jazz Shabbat awakened us to the blessings of Cantor Daniel’s gifts. We saw with our eyes and with our ears, and felt it in our hearts and our souls.

                At the conclusion of Jazz Shababt, we sang Ein Keiloheinu, to a rousing version by Shlomo Carlebach. And, before the benediction when I thanked Cantor Mutlu, choir and instrumentalists, a spontaneous applause broke out. The congregation said, Thank you Cantor Mutlu for a memorable Shabbat evening and for the promise of many more beautiful moments in Jewish music, together.

                Now enjoy the Cantor’s Corner on the Beth Israel’s website to find audio clips from Jazz Shabbat and other musical pieces. From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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