Beautiful by Sarah Brightman

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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

Last Hope by Paramore

I don’t even know myself at all
I thought I would be happy by now
The more I try to push it I realize
Gotta let go of control

Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen
So let it happen

It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

Every night I try my best to dream
Tomorrow makes it better
Then I wake up to the cold reality
And not a thing is changed

But it will happen
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

And the salt in my wounds isn’t burning any more than it used to
It’s not that I don’t feel the pain, it’s just I’m not afraid of hurting anymore
And the blood in these veins isn’t pumping any less than it ever has
And that’s the hope I have, the only thing I know that’s keeping me alive

Alive

Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen
Gotta let it happen

It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going
(So if I let go of control now, I can be strong)
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

It’s just a spark
But it’s enough to keep me going
(So if I keep my eyes closed, with the blind hope)
And when it’s dark out, no one’s around
It keeps glowing

AZLyrics.(2017). Last Hope.Retrieved from

Fight Song by Rachel Platten

I Am What I am by Gloria Gaynor

I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation

It’s my world that I want to have a little pride in
My world and it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a dam
‘Til you can say I am what I am

I am what I am
I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty

And so what if I love each sparkle and each bangle
Why not try to see things from a different angle
Your life is a sham
‘Til you can shout out, I am what I am

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces

It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life. So it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a dam
‘Til you can shout out, I am what I am

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces

It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life. So it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a dam
‘Til you can shout out, I am what I am

AZLyrics.(2017). I Am What I Am.Retrieved from

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/gloriagaynor/iamwhatiam.html