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111http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2012/08/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---08_24_2012
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 08_24_2012
08/23/2012 09:39 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
August 24, 2012

 

Jazz Shabbat. It sounds odd compared to our usual expectations for Shabbat worship. But, it doesn’t sound odd if you know Cantor Daniel Mutlu. Cantor Dan, as we’ve come to know him, is more than a voice. Cantor’s voice is a gift we anticipate each time we’re together. An opening song, Barechu and Shema, V’shameru, and Shalom Rav, are a few of the pieces and prayers that come alive with his deft handling of each note and melody.

                Cantor Dan is also a remarkable musician. His handling of guitar, piano and harmonica demonstrates his versatility and understanding of how instruments can enrich worship. With seemingly little effort, his guitar lifts the prayers to new heights where they belong. Together, we wrap our prayers in song and perform a mitzvah called “hiddur mitzvah”, we add beauty to our prayers. They are our offerings to God, so we make them the most beautiful gifts. In the last year, worshipers have been singing more. And, even when they aren’t, I can see in their eyes how deeply they appreciate the prayers set to beautiful music.

                Jazz Shabbat is another trope by which we feel the rhythm of Jewish life. After all, modern American Jewish life isn’t only a classical, traditional, or Ashkenazic experience. We are fully acculturated if not assimilated Jews. We are moved by the classics, oldies, rock ‘n’ roll, R & B, rap and more. Inspirational and moving Shabbat worship can speak to us through all these tropes, although I wouldn’t expect “Rap Shabbat” to be on our playlist any time soon.

                For Jazz Shabbat, Cantor Dan has hand-selected instruments and musicians who have mastered the sounds and rhythms that complement his vision for Jazz and Shabbat worship. His personal arrangements of some familiar melodies are fused with Jazz. Our ears will recognize them but our toes will be tapping to something new. Cantor Dan will add a d’var Torah, a Shabbat message, on the meaning of the Jazz genre, and finish with a tribute to George Gershwin.

                The schedule for music Shabbat services is set for the year and I want you to take note that every 4th Friday of the month will be dedicated to a musical experience. Some months will be a vibrant musical service with a band, but other months will be dedicated to a genre that punctuates the fusion of Jewish and ethnic music. This year, we’ll welcome Sephardic Shabbat, Shabbat Chazzanut, Shabbat Chanukah, our new favorite, Beatles Shabbat, and a special but not yet announced musical Shabbat in May.

                Cantor Dan and I share a vision for music at Beth Israel. It is presented on the bemah, but it takes shape among the talented musicians Cantor assembles from among Houston’s best, our own Temple members who are adept musicians and singers, and our children who are beginning to lend their time to Shirim Team, our children’s choir.

                Friday night, August 24th, Jazz Shabbat begins in the sanctuary at 6:30 p.m. All are welcome. Bring your friends and neighbors. For those who have Yahrtzeit or are reciting Kaddish following a recent death of a loved one, there will be a brief service at 5:30 p.m. in the Gordon Chapel, for those who prefer a quieter setting, led by Rabbi Adrienne Scott.

                Jazz up your Friday evening with Jazz Shabbat this week. From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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