Last year, at Let My People Sing! I shared very personally about my own struggles with singing and the sound of my own voice. In preparation this year, I have been reflecting on our collective struggles with prayer and song. More specifically, I have been asking myself, Why Sing? Why, Let my People Sing!?
A few weeks ago I got an email from a KT member. She expressed that while she has been coming to KT services relatively regularly, by which she means about once a month, yet she still finds the service largely inaccessible. I know there are dozens of us who currently or have felt in the past something of this sentiment. Myself included. The melodies aren’t familiar, the language is foreign, the transliteration isn’t consistent, the choreography is unexpected. Never mind the fact that if we did know the Hebrew, it would at times be spiritually incongruous with our own belief systems. The entire experience of going to synagogue for services has the potential to be utterly alienating. And so much of that is rooted in a practice dependent on singing and chanting words from a book or memorized after years of practice.
So why sing? Why not sit in silence, which has the potentially to be equally uncomfortably but appears at least more universally accessible? Why not make art or study a text or do yoga? Why not dance? All of which are established expressions of religious experience. Why is song one of our primary modes of spiritual expression?
Tomorrow morning I will be sharing reflections on these questions, as well as their connection to the book of Leviticus, the new Moon of Nissan and the holiday of Passover at Let My People Sing! I hope to see many of you throughout the weekend.
Wishing you all a shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Ari Lev
Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek Synagogue through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.