Music Gives Wings to Words

Posted on October 7, 2022

It should come as no surprise that I don’t sleep well during the holy day season, but not for the reason you might think. For sure, the responsibility of preparing for the services and sermons weighs heavily upon me. But there is another significant reason my sleep is compromised – one that resonates with our Continue Reading »

Music, Trauma, and Healing

Posted on July 29, 2022

A note from Cantor Risa Wallach: I recently attended the Women’s Cantor Network conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. There, I had a chance to study with Cantor Heather Aranyi of Congregation Beth Am of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. I found her teaching to be of interest and I share in here with you.  Originally published in Continue Reading »

Freedom in Our Day

Posted on January 29, 2021

The story of the Israelites being freed from Egyptian bondage by God, with Moses as their leader is a story of redemption. The Israelites were saved by God’s power, and we became God’s people in the process, ultimately receiving the Torah at mount Sinai and joining in the covenant with God that binds us together Continue Reading »

Niggun de Yoma – Marking Jewish Time with Music

Posted on January 15, 2021

On the Shabbat that fell during Chanukah this past year, we sang the traditional melody for Ma’ozTzur, set to “MiChamocha” during our evening and morning services. In the morning, during a brief rendition of Hallel, I used the same melody to chant the text from Psalm 118, “HoduL’Adonai Ki Tov” (“praise God for God is Continue Reading »

Shabbat Mevarechim

Posted on July 17, 2020

July 17, 2020 25 Tammuz 5780 This Shabbat is one of those traditionally called Mevarechim, a Shabbat on which we recite the blessing for the new month in anticipation of Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the new Hebrew month). The coming Hebrew month is the month of Av. The most mournful day of the Continue Reading »

Far from the Home I Love: The Jewish Immigrant Story in Song

Posted on November 13, 2018

Once again, the TBE Cantorial Concert Committee, led by Jim and Beth Lavranchuk, is laboring to bring another beautiful musical event to fruition. Our subject is a bit deeper this year, and possibly a little darker. But only by descending is it possible to rise: out of the darkness we hope to bring you light. Continue Reading »

Banot: Beloved Melodies, Beautiful Vision

Posted on September 5, 2018

Normally, this is the time of year when we start gearing up to ask you (the congregation) for lots of things. But it’s my privilege to tell you about a musical gift for you! Due to a wonderfully generous grant from the Temple Beth-El Sisterhood, we will have the great fortune to have Banot for Continue Reading »

Chanukah Around the World Cantorial Concert

Posted on November 7, 2017

We are now in the Jewish month of Cheshvan, also called “mar” or “bitter” Cheshvan by the ancient rabbis because there are no holidays during this month. Modern day cantors tend to think of it in other terms. But this Cheshvan, I and my Cantorial Concert Committee, led with hard work, dedication, and so much Continue Reading »

The Children of Hidur Mitzvah

Posted on May 4, 2017

What, you may ask, is “hidur mitzvah”? Cantor Emily Pincus tells us this is an expression that means “to make the mitzvah more beautiful.” In other words, out of the mitzvah of prayer, the singer creates an even greater mitzvah. This idea is at the heart of her goals for the youth choir, for both Continue Reading »

“Sing unto God a New Song”

Posted on January 5, 2017

On the sunny first day of the secular New Year, I sat down at the piano to take a peek at Gershwin’s First Prelude, also known as the last piece I tried to play before I gave up piano lessons as a kid. Every once in a while, I look at it and attempt to Continue Reading »