Puttin’ On Shabbat – Shalom Rav / Blue Skies
From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon
We have MUSIC! During Cantor Star Trompeter’s installation services last Friday night, I had the overwhelming sensation that the music we’ve come to know and love at Congregation Beth Israel is here again to stay. For a moment, I closed my eyes when she sang and during the duets she shared with Cantor Roslyn Barak, her mentor, who came to participate in her installation, and Rabbi Adrienne Scott, whose voice is equally beautiful. The rich sounds I heard elevated the words and enabled me to feel the prayers rise higher than ever. When I opened my eyes, I saw others who closed theirs, too. Music elevates the words we read in the prayer book and also the words we hold in our hearts, and now music has become a large part of how we feel about Jewish life across the campus.
Music at Beth Israel can be heard in the sanctuary or Gordon Chapel every Shabbat. With an ensemble every Friday night, we enjoy engaging and participatory music. Familiar words or just “la-la-la” connect us to our faith, our friends and ourselves. Sacred music, it turns out, isn’t high and distant; it’s very close to us and we feel it every week.
Music at Beth Israel can be heard on Sunday morning in the Gordon Chapel. Cantor Trompeter leads musicians, including Rabbi Chase Foster, who plays guitar, and welcomes children to join her on the bimah. They’re learning fun songs; the children run to be with Cantor Trompeter.
Music at the Shlenker School can be heard every weekday. Cantor Trompeter is beginning to focus on music curricula and goals for music appreciation at the day school. Like MBJLC, we share aspirations for their knowledge of Jewish music and the way it can endear them to their faith and heritage.
Congregation Beth Israel is known for being relevant, modern and joyful; but, it can’t be all these things and more without music. Jewish music is relevant when its chords and melodies resonate not only the golden ages of cantorial music, but also contemporary rhythms and sounds of today. Jewish music is modern when it freely adapts to musical trends and even fuses modern music with ancient liturgy. Jewish music is joyful, and we know that it is when we feel it move our hearts and souls, and also our hands and feet.
As we look forward to Cantor Star Trompeter’s “Beautiful Shabbat,” a fusion of Carole King’s hits and Shabbat prayers, on March 23, 2018, we also look forward to more of her kind and friendly manner. Please come to know Star, for yourself. As you do, you’ll also come to know the power of music and the ways it can lift, inspire and empower you.
To listen to last week’s Shabbat Service when Cantor Trompeter was installed, go to YouTube, and search for “BethIsraelHouston” to find the service from February 23, 2018. You’ll enjoy it as much as we did in the sanctuary. I might just listen in again, too.
As Shabbat comes again and we anticipate a new week, let’s make room for music in our life. Let’s make room for Jewish music we can sing and feel, together. Congregation Beth Israel, we have MUSIC!