“Hashiveinu we return!”


Dear Friends.,

It is hard to believe that it will have been two years since we were last together in person to hear the Shofar calling out to us on Rosh Hashanah to plead on each other’s behalf for God’s forgiveness before the heavenly gates close on Yom Kippur. Last year our High Holy Day services looked and felt very different as the majority of us were forced to experience them from home. Though we were proud of what we were able to produce and accomplish despite the severe restrictions, I know that all of us were praying for a safe return to in person services for 5782. Fingers crossed, our prayers so far have been answered and we will be returning this year to in person services!

As your Cantor and Shaliach Tzibur, it is my avodah, sacred duty, to decide each year, paraphrasing the Un’taneh Tokef, which composed liturgical piece will live and which shall be replaced by new musical moments. It is a long journey that I embark on once Yom Kippur has ended with the support and trust of my clergy colleagues and Jackie Huber.

I do not take this responsibility lightly for I am fully aware that there are many pieces which, if taken out, could “make or break” the High Holy Day experience.

I am greatly looking forward to having our Shir Joy choir return this year with both volunteer and guest singers. I know all of us are eagerly awaiting those special tearful moments when we will be led in musical prayer by special youth soloists and hear the Torah and Haftarah chanted by esteemed B’nei Mitzvah alumni.

One moment in particular that I am proud of is a new composition called “Hashivenu We Return” that I wrote to open the High Holy Day season on Erev Rosh Hashanah. This ballad with congregational refrain combines the joy, humility and celebration of the Shehecheyanu blessing with the declamatory opening verse to the High Holy Days: “Hashiveinu Adonai Eleicha V’nashuva- Return us to you O’God and we will return!” The original English lyrics are an interpretation of each of the three gifts given to us by God as referred to in the Shehecheyanu and praise God for endowing us with the knowledge and discernment to be able to discover and understand the information necessary to ensure our survival from generation to generation especially throughout the devastating COVID pandemic. It is this sacred partnership that truly has enabled us to reach this season. This piece will be introduced by the great sounding of the shofar and accompany the long awaited return of our Torahs to the Ark and I can’t wait to teach it to you so we can all sing the refrain together.

This year on Rosh Hashanah we will not only re-establish.

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