The Sounds of CBSRZ
Music is a fundamental aspect of our community. The power of song weaves it way into a tapestry that enfolds all cycles of life. We have music when we pray, when we celebrate holidays or simchas (events of joy), and when we mourn. We even have music without words which in Hebrew is called a “nigun”. The Jewish mystics say that this word is actually an acronym. The first letter is a nun which stands for Nefesh – meaning “spirit”. The next letter, gimel stands for Guf which means “body”. The last letter nun stands for N’shamah, which means “soul”. This teaching tells us that music affects three aspects of our being. It affects our primal spirit as a rush of energy making us want to sway. It affects our body, urging us to dance, move our lips and feel our hearts beat with the pulse of rhythm, chant and melody. It affects our higher soul the N’shamah, connecting us to God as it expands and lifts us higher and higher.
At CBSRZ, whether it be our Choir singing at Shabbat Services, our Klezmer band adding to the joy of a holiday celebration, or our individual voices joined in prayer (our community loves to sing!), music weaves our bodies and spirits into a beautiful tallit (prayer shawl) that shelters and lifts us to places that we can best explore when we are with each other.
CBSRZ has a volunteer choir, comprised of congregants of all ages and backgrounds, who share a love of music, spirituality, and laughter. It is truly a blessed group, which gathers once a week to practice, sings at Friday night Shabbat services once a month, and joins the rabbi, cantor, and cantorial soloists at the High Holidays in making the services extra special. The group is led by Choir Director Meg Gister, who encourages those who enjoy singing and liturgical music to join the choir. The choir sings at Friday night services on the third Friday of the month and on holidays. Rehearsals are on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m.
A KLEZ ACT
We are very proud of A Klez Act, our official house band. Klezmer music is a vital part of the CBSRZ culture. Under the direction of saxophonist Norman Hannenbaum, this 8 piece group is part of holiday celebrations, special services, and often a participant in our eclectic Music and More Series. You may wonder what Klezmer music is and where it comes from. There is a story that tells us how one of the founding members of an original “Klezmer Revival” band, was down south interested in learning traditional banjo licks from an old timey player. The musician, Henry Sapoznik, was asked “don’t you Jewish people have ethnic music of your own?” Indeed we do. Jewish musicians emigrated from Central/Eastern Europe to the US during the 1900’s where initially, American Klez style flourished. By the 1960’s however, assimilation had narrowed the sound of Klez to Fiddler On the Roof favorites such as “Sunrise, Sunset”. The Klez revival of the 1970’s changed that, and has been evolving ever since. Klezmer, short for “klei zemer” (musical instruments) is music that swings, flows, and cries. Originally, without vocals, Klezmer music has always been for the purpose of entertainment, predominantly at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.
Over time, it has evolved as entertainment for the masses, staying true to old world melodies which are then fused with jazz, soul, rock, and even rap, creating a paradox of yearning and celebration, happy and sad, as only true soulful Klez musicians can do. Melodies such as Oyfn Pripichek, Bei Mir Bistu Shein, and Tumbalalaika are staples of our repertoire. A klez Act has been performing for over 20 years with two appearances at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival in Farmington and a tour in Chesapeake Bay in 2002 teaching the Hora to a wide variety of audience members. Most of all, the group is , thrilled that one of its signature pieces “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in Yiddish never seems to go out of style.