I have always loved to sing.
As far back as I can remember, I was in the school chorus, playing records on the stereo, and listening to the radio in my room. Not to mention singing in the shower. Loudly. No really, just ask my brother! Whether it is the perfect song when breaking up with a boyfriend or the best feel-good song for a sunny day, music has always had the ability to reach me and somehow, enchant me.
So it should come as no surprise that music was also my access point to Judaism. I sat in services and did not care much for the text, but perked up when I heard the melodies. There was, and is, something oddly comforting to me about the “la-lal-la” of a good niggun in the midst of services. It brings me in and opens me up. This Shabbat, we are celebrating the aptly named Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song. This is the week we read in the Torah of the miraculous crossing of the Reed Sea. We are told that once the Israelites were safely across, Moses’ sister, Miriam, took a group of women and began singing the now-famous Mi Camocha prayer to celebrate God’s power. This jubilant celebration – complete with dancing women and tambourines – is why this Shabbat is named the Sabbath of Song. Tonight’s service will of course, commemorate this celebration. There will be – you guessed it – lots and lots of music. We will also be observing the yahrzeit of Debbie Freidman, our very own 21st century Miriam, who composed hundreds of tunes and transformed the way almost all Reform Jews pray today.
Come join us and sing. You don’t need to know all the words. You don’t even need to be able to carry a tune. You just need to feel that music is somehow magical and be willing to open your heart and mouth in joy!
Wishing you all a peaceful and melodic Shabbat!
Pam Barkley, Director of Education