Music Transcends Words

Kaori Miyazono, the female protagonist in an anime series, once said, “Music transcends words. By exchanging notes, you get to know one another, to understand one another. As if your souls were connected, and your hearts were overlapping. It’s a conversation through instruments. A miracle that creates harmony. In that moment, music transcends words.”

While I do not watch anime, as a cantor and a singer, this quote touched me. Singers and musicians live to make music. Judaism has a wonderful word for completeness/wholeness/peace — sh’leimut, which is what I find when I make music together with others, and most especially when I am singing with you, my fellow congregants and friends. When our voices join in prayer, I find myself lifted up, and I feel God’s presence in our midst. One of the more challenging aspects of the isolation of this past year for me was the inability to make music with others. I longed to collaborate with David Lang, our music director; with our Macomb St. Shabbat musicians, Daniel, Ami, Matvei, and Joey; with our Cantorial Intern David Fair; and with Cantor Manevich. I couldn’t even make music with my voice teacher – my lessons have been over Zoom and a cappella, without the aid of the accompaniment she normally provides. Most of all, I have missed you and missed singing with you. I am grateful we have stayed connected through Zoom services, classes, and meetings, as well as good old-fashioned phone calls. Yet, these communications tools, for as good as they are, are limited, and it brings me great comfort and joy to know that in just a few weeks, we will be able to connect in person.

You may have heard, but it is so exciting that I will share it again: we are getting ready to welcome you back into Kaufmann Sanctuary at Temple for Shabbat services on Friday, July 2!

To celebrate this first step toward the reopening of our buildings, we will offer several special Shabbat opportunities, including “Red, White & Blue Shabbat and BBQ” on Friday, July 2, and  “Mimosa Minyan” Saturday morning services through August 21. Mimosa Minyan is an informal, musical, and accessible Shabbat morning service that ends with Torah study over brunch (and mimosas!). Rest assured that protecting the health and safety of the community is top of mind, and as we have done for the past 15 months, we are approaching this process with sound guidance backed by science. While there will still be restrictions in place, my fellow clergy and I are excited to welcome you back into our sanctuary, where we will sing, pray, and enjoy being together with you. If you are not able or ready to join us in person, we invite you to continue to participate via our live stream. Over the past several months, we have been working on upgrading our technology, and if you join us virtually, you will soon benefit from the enhancements we are beginning to put into place.

This summer, we are also bringing back live music with a summer concert series on the lawn at the Julia Bindeman Suburban Center! The first concert — on Saturday, June 19 — featured the Nataly Merezhuk Quartet. On Sunday, July 11, our Macomb St./Falls Rd. Shabbat musicians will present an evening of jazz, highlighting Jewish jazz musicians in the 20th century. The series will culminate with a Cantors’ Concert! On Saturday, July 24, I will be joined by our new Cantorial Students, Beth Reinstein and Justin Callis, for our first live performance together. We are thrilled that Justin and Beth will work with our congregation next year, and I am so excited for this opportunity to introduce them (and their incredible voices) to you. To learn about our cantorial students, please see the article on page four.

As we look ahead to the coming year, there will be so many wonderful opportunities in which you and I will share our voices, and our souls, in song. I look forward to greeting each of you in person, to hearing how you have fared over the past year. May our coming together bring us peace and wholeness, sh’leimut.