Last night, I had the opportunity to attend the Broadway Shabbat at Congregation Shomrei Torah for this year. It was run by Erica Wisner, the cantorial soloist,Malcom McElheney the assistant cantorial soloist, as well as some accompaniment. As last year, they performed the traditional Shabbat prayers with arrangements to traditional and new Broadway show tunes.  Furthermore, some songs were the same as last year, but nonetheless, the service was once again amazing.

Music as we know, in the Jewish realm has become an essential part of synagogue services through the traditional nusuach to the contemporary Jewish melodies of today. The importance of how certain melodies are specified for certain times, each exemplifying that particular moment,and that particular feeling which is aimed to be expressed. Moreover, these pieces, all reminisce the past, honor the present, and has hope for the future. The services would not be the same today without this art that has become so profound in our everyday lives.

Honestly though, music, however does more than just define our services. According to Cantor Vicky Glickin, music is the universal language. It “has the power to connect us to ourselves, to each other and to God,” (URJ, 2019). Seeing this collaboration once more of different musical genres coming together into an hour service of worship, demonstrates the how music mirrors the human potential, mirrors
a sense of community among people of different cultural backgrounds, and how music exercises our faith in God in hopes to repair the world (tikkun olam). As seen last night, music essentially is a metaphor of human experience. It is an art that we create, but in turn it reflects our emotions, the way we think, and the way we feel uniting the human race(Schopenhaur, p.28).

My favorite selection last night was once again the Misheberiach, the Jewish prayer of healing. It was arranged to You’ll Never Walk Alone by Rodgers and Hammerstein from the musical Carousel. Erica sang this with much grace. Her passion for music always comes through when she sings. The misheberiach was no exception.
Furthermore, I loved this piece because of the song’s message; resilience, hope,and healing. Not only that, the song demonstrates our aptitude to overcome adversity, which essentially is the incredible history of the Jewish people. Fighting through triumph as a people and as individuals: throughout our endurance, throughout our faith and throughout our belief for a better world, tikkum olam. Music is truly A mirror of our deepest needs, desires, emotional experiences and behaviors….

Having the opportunity to attend last night’s service was truly a blessing.Can’t wait for next year…

Broadway Shabbat at Congregation Shomrei Torah

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Broadway Shabbat at Congregation Shomrei Torah

Music brings people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”~ John Denver ~ 

I had the opportunity to attend a Friday night service at my local synagogue, Shomrei Torah in Santa Rosa, CA. For those who do not know, Shomrei Torah is a progressive reform synagogue in Sonoma County.  They base their tenets on traditional, yet innovate Judaic practices.  It serves a congregation of over 400 families and strive to welcome Jewish life in any way possible. Occasionally, they have special events whether speakers discuss various topics, performers,  and a whole bunch of amazing programs throughout the year cultivating and strengthening the Jewish community throughout the region.

Last night, at their typical Friday night service was a remembrance of Broadway musicals.  The head cantorial soloist Erica Wisner, (a former singer on Broadway) arranged the traditional friday night prayers into Broadway pieces ranging from Oklahoma written by Rodgers and Hammerstein to Rent written by Jonathan Larson. It truly was remarkable. The service was led by the Assistant rabbi Stephanie Kramer, and the two cantorial soloists Erica Wisner and Malcom McElheney.  It was also accompanied by the temple’s piano accompanist, Yvonne Wormer, a drummer and  a bass guitarist (I believe).  I am a musician myself, have a love for both Jewish and Broadway tunes (being a former nyer), and have a life’s purpose of bringing people together through music.  So, seeing this collaboration of completely different musical genres coming together into an hour service of worship, in my opinion, through the power of music, demonstrates the capability of human potential, demonstrates the underlying need of a sense of community among people of different cultural backgrounds, and exercises our faith in God through music in hopes to repair the world (tikkun olam). For some, that may not know, the jewish history is a long story of faith and hope, the story of Exodus, the execution of Jews throughout the holocaust, the spanish inquisition, and other traumatic events throughout time. Yet, we have fought as a people throughout our endurance, throughout our faith and throughout our belief for a better world, tikkum olam. That being said,  witnessing all of these motivational forces through works of art was truly spectacular. As seen last night, music essentially is a metaphor of human experience…

My favorite selection last night was Misheberiach, the jewish prayer of healing… It was arranged to You’ll Never Walk Alone by Rodgers and Hammerstein from the musical Carousel. Over the years of living in California, this has become my favorite Jewish prayer and traditionally this has been my favorite Broadway tune… The song’s message of resilience and hope combined with the prayer’s message for healing of both individuals and groups, not only shows the influence of prayer, but also exemplifies the courageous inner strength to overcome anything that life throws at us.   This need for our inner strength and our prayers for the healing of others, described in the music, is applicable even today.  For example,  all the school shootings, the fires taken place in Sonoma County, the illnesses that still prevail. We pray for the healing of those individual but ultimately, we are also praying for them through our faith to God, that they can overcome their difficult situations. In light of this, music veritably is what human beings are (Schneck, p.28)  A mirror of our deepest needs, desires, emotional experiences and behaviors….

Last night was not only a dedication to Broadway musicals, but furthermore it was a ceremony of prayer to faith in god, a hope for unconditional love for all including the Jewish people, an aspiration to unite the human race.  Having the opportunity to attend last night’s service was truly a blessing. It reminded me of my own dedication to the Jewish people, to have faith in my own situation and continue striving to do my share of tikkun olam.

Thank you Shomrei Torah 🙂

” It is hope that gives life meaning. And hope is based on the prospect of being able one day to turn the actual world into a possible one that looks better.”~ Francois Jacob

More of my Life Story….

Well here it is….. More of my audacious life….

 I am halfway to what I want in terms of building this life in Sonoma County and I truly believe, I will get everything else in time, just have to keep on moving forward.

So, that being said; November 7th 2013, my husband and I separated.  However, we were  still best friends. Nonetheless, we spent the day in the park with two cats and spent the night in a hotel.   The following morning he went to his mother’s apartment and I went to stay with an aquaitance of ours.  I still saw Bryan occasionally and actually, a few weeks later we both got a job at the same company, different shifts but still saw each other ironic huh 🙂 We even went to services together sometimes and he kissed me at one of them. We also still went to the Jewish film festival together at our local temple.  One night he was chasing me around… Got to admit I loved it that night. (I was ignoring him. He didnt invite me to go with him but I wanted to see the film, (let’s just say he got a piece of what his life would be without me ) Finally, he even left me this plate picture frame  (which he made) at the temple one evening that said I loved you.

Yet,my living situation was horrible, I had gotten really sick (found out I had Hashmito’s; an autoimmune diesease that attacks the thyroid) and was getting severe headaches (had to quit my job because of it). Top of all that, my landlady was insane.  She was extremely  emotionally abusive, she would be what people would call a hoarder, and literally had no personal boundaries . She went into my room one afternoon and just washed all my clothes without my permission. She then left everything in the backyard on top of my luggage.  I mean who does that… She was literally out of control…..

But anyways I wanted to move to Santa Rosa (which is 4 hours away from Fresno) and so April 4th of 2014 I had decided to try… The night before, my landlady had tried to poison me. She had given me some quinoa.  Yet, my my stomach was in excruaiting pain from eating it.   I have never experienced so much pain in my life. It was awful. So I left the kitchen in hopes I could sleep it off before I left the next day. When I got to my bedroom, I texted Bryan over facebook saying that I needed to see him in the morning before I left. Luckily, the next morning the pain was gone.  Bryan came to my room about eight. We went to eat, then I went to his house because he wanted to show me his new tallit that he got. It was beautiful . We then said our goodbyes and as right as I went back to my car to give my cat some water before I took off, he came outside in tears.   (that was the first time I think I ever saw him cry over me and I knew he really loved me )… I left,came back to Fresno after two days because my hearing aids broke and I didnt have any more money.. Was able to stay with friends for a few weeks and then I went back to my psychotic roommate. (Huge mistake I know but I didnt have a choice…) Bryan left to go to Eureka a month later.  I stayed in Fresno for two more months.

June 1st, I had to leave my landlady’s house because i wasn’t working and she was still psycho.  So, sadly to say, I was homeless in Fresno, California. Something I thought would never happen to me. I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, went to some of the top schools in NY state,  but because of my family history, I did not want to go back home. Orginially I considered it but my famiyl changed their mind and  I realized it was for the best. So I was homeless. It was something to this day I don’t think I have truly processed, but I learned so much about life from this experience…

I went to this bootcamp of a shelter. It really was a bootcamp, they wanted you out at 6 in the morning and you had to be back by 4 45 or you couldn’t stay there over night. They made you wait in line to take attendance every night, we had to shower in outside lockers, and we slept in an annex with bunk beds, it was awful, it was just plain awful. I did that for about a month. One day I even had to jump over a train just so I wouldn’t be late to get in the shelter for that night. During the time that I was there I would drive around Fresno and I had gone to a gas station one day to fill up my car. I was looking in my wallet for some money and I  had found this card Bryan had given me for my birthday one year.   As a result,  I decided to try to go back to Santa Rosa just one more time. I wanted to see if I could make it work this time, over a card, I tell you, over a card that made me cry for months, months. It said that he loved me and he wanted this life here…

So on July 8th, I drove up here to Santa Rosa with 300 dollars in my pocket and a HUGE LEAP OF faith.It was one of those things if I dont do it now, I never will. SO I  went… First night I stayed at a hotel, second night I was at a very strict Christian shelter for women where they had a mandatory Bible study every night. I’m Jewish so being forced to read the New testament and to believe in Jesus, well im sorry that didnt really suit me.  They even tried to get me to convert. NO WAY…. That was not going to happen.  .I found a temporary job two weeks later (still work there ). Then I was working for Macy’s as seasonal help for a while till the holidays. I was able to stay at that shelter till the end of Jan of 2015. During this time also I also had to give up my car due to my money situation so I had to learn to rely on public transportation. Most of the women there had a history of homelessness, some were drug addicts trying to stay sober, others were there for other reasons. We slept on bunk beds. I just kept my cool and stayed focused on goals.

When I left the shelter,  I stayed at a hotel for about 6 weeks. An acquaintance that I knew from the shelter ended up joining me at the hotel.  We decided to do the nomadic shelter for a week to try to save some money till we got into a another shelter. This is a program that the local rescue mission had with the local churches during the winter months where up to about 50 homeless people would sleep in different churches around the area.  They served us dinner and gave us sleeping bags and pillows to use for the night. We were woken up at 5 30 in the morning and had to be back  at the mission at around 6pm for transportation to the church for that night.   Showers had to be taken at this local day center for the homeless.

I was working temporarily (and I had a little help from family) but I still did not have enough money to rent a room or pay for a security deposit. So,  after the nomadic shelter program ended, I went to another local shelter in Petaluma, California. I was there for 6 months working different jobs but I was at it everyday searching for something more permanent and something that  I wanted to stay at. I wanted my life here, so I wanted a job that would be fufulling and somehting I wanted long term.  This shelter wanted us up around 7 30 so we can do our chores (which had to be done at least once a day or we couldn’t stay for the night)  I continued to look for jobs every day. Still was doing a lot of job hopping… August of 2015, I found a job.

One thing I liked about this shelter was that they had a transitional housing program. I figured that was the best thing for me to do next so I could save some money till I got  a room or a place of my own to live. After I got that position, I was able to move in to the transitional house. I was there for 7 months. January 2016th, I got a part time assistant job teacher at my local temple, (job 2) I was also part of a play during my time at the transitional house .I also started playing a dinky old piano in downtown Petaluma just for the sake  of it. I became a street performer. (It’s so cool)…..  It took me about 3 months to find a room where I wanted to be. (Did not know what I wanted to do next in terms of housing) I liked the house I got, My roomates were always very kind to me and even though I was hardly there I felt like things were finally starting to become more stable again. It really was a huge transition to where I was the year before.

April 1st I moved into my place that I am at now.   I live in a beautiful house right behind a gorgeous shopping center. Public transportation is so close. I am really lucky…  I also want to stay where I am working because I love it..  A month later I got my third job, which is only a 6 minute walk to my room . I left the other one because management was treating me horribly and you know me I don’t take that crap… So I left. I have been where I am now since then and I am still saving money, and I am getting to where I want to be.

Everything is finally coming together. I still want Bryan back (of course, that is #1)….. Additionally, I want a house and I want to be able to drive again but IM getting there. It really comes to show you can do anything you want. You just need the mindset and need to be able to face your fears and trust life a little. You need the strength to over come those obstacles and you need to have the faith to keep on going every day…

I can’t wait to see what else is in store for me but I am not giving up on building this life. I love it up here.I truly do and I’m so proud of myself for how far a disabled, Jewish separated married woman has come.  Not just with building this life but just with how much happiness and how much fulfillment I have of life now.Bryan I love you….. Thank you for this helping me make my dream a reality despite the hurdles I faced to get there… I

Can’t wait to finish what I started to do.. I’m halfway there… Goodnight all.