Ok, I KNOW I need to get over it… that chill that runs up my spine, the butterfly-thrill the churns in my stomach when people sing along with the Shabbat music I wrote. But, come on, ya’ll, this is GOOD stuff.
So… about twenty of us gathered at a dear family’s home for dinner and to share in my Friday night Sabbath service, “A Shabbat Sweet.” The host family bid on the service as part of last year’s silent auction to raise money for the synagogue’s early childhood program.
As folks came into the home, I could see that we were a delightful mix of ages and family stages: families with young children, families whose children have left childhood behind for independent life, and families whose children are in college, that land between childhood and independence.
And then we finally were called to gather around the table in anticipation of bringing in Shabbat by lighting candles, saying blessing over wine and, literally, breaking bread by pulling apart the challah after blessing it.
After some words of introduction, I taught the group a very simple, highly repetitive niggun, a wordless melody. We split up into two “choirs,” each group singing just a slightly different phrase that harmonized with the other. And THAT’S when the chills really started: the energy, the power of twenty voices rising and joining together! And I thought: “This is it! This is how the joy of being Jewish enters the soul and leaves its mark of delight.” And I wondered if this was a moment, perhaps THE moment, for some of these kids, when they first experienced the intimate intensity of Jewish prayer, like I experienced when I went to Jewish summer camp.
I can’t thank the hosts enough for the opportunity to experience “A Shabbat Sweet” in such a lovely, intimate setting.