Beit Daniel, the Next Chapter

I am a regular at Beit Daniel services, now, leading parts of each Friday service (sometimes all) and generally having the second aliyah in the morning service. I'm starting to learn the melodies I don't know, and the texts I need to know. I take a different music book with me each week to try to either identify what tune they are using, or where I can find an alternative. A lot of little blue and red and green stickies! But I know that I can "cobble" together a Friday evening and Saturday morning service that will do.

I'm meeting the congregation members, a few at a time. And getting to know the cantor and rabbis. Everyone is very sweet, supportive, completely accepting. But what is my status?

Tonight I learned!

I went to the erev Shabbat service, was prepared to introduce a new melody for Oseh Shalom (Jeff Klepper's, which TBS loved.) I was thinking it would be better to do it when there was a busload of Americans (we have them 2-3 times a month) because the Americans would know it. As I parked my car, 4 busloads of people were going into the building--all Americans! (How many signs do I need?) We had 600 people at the service! One of them was Leon Sher, a prominent cantorial soloist from the states who has written some nice melodies for the liturgy. I had met him at the Zamir Choral Fest a few years ago--reintroduced myself, then the service started.

Time came for the silent prayer, and after, time for me. Swallowed the butterflies (parparim in Hebrew!) and hummed the Oseh Shalom as an introduction to my Hebrew version of "May the Words," then sang that, and when I went into Oseh Shalom for real--fully 450 people sang with me! I dipped in and out of the soprano harmony, and what fun we had!

Back to my seat, most relieved and so happy!

During the announcements, Rabbi Azari thanked me, said that I made aliyah a year ago, and have been helping out in Beit Daniel services, and that when the congregation in Jaffo is developed, Cindy will be part of it!! In front of all of those witnesses! Now I know.

For Adon Olam, Rabbi Azari asked if there were any cantorial soloists among the guests--I pointed at Leon, and he was invited to come up to help lead the closing song, and then, so was I! It was one LOUD closing song, but again, such fun!

After, Leon thanked me, and remembered that we had met at the Choral Fest. We talked about how we had heard that the Israeli Reform synagogues all had their own melodies--then we had Debbie Friedman's Ahavat Olam, and others! At the kiddush people were lovely as usual.

Rabbah Galia asked me how it went--good, good! Then she told me how impressed she has been by my flexibility and assertiveness in being part of each service. And how the congregation loves me--how many people have talked to her about me. I am so grateful, for so much.

Now, it won't a "job" as it was at TBS. There is no "Hebrew" school--the kids already know that! No religious school... So a big component of an American congregation is not an issue here. I'll be paid on a "per service" basis, as I was when I started this amazing journey 10 years ago. So what? That's how they do it here! But what potential! It's very exciting to be involved in bringing the sweetness of the Reform movement to Israel! They are "feeling their ways" and have accepted me as a fellow pioneer. Still a little unreal. No, still COMPLETELY unreal. Only it is real, and mine.

PS--I will be chanting a chapter of Esther for Purim. When I checked it in my "big book" (parents of my former students will know this!) another "sign"--the chapter starts with the 5 verses I always chanted at TBS.

Old News to Me, But Not to You!

My second chance leading the service at Beit Daniel, 2 weeks ago. On the supplement, instead of "Guest Chazzanit" they just put "Chazzanit"--wonder if that means anything? It went really well, even though I worked with a young guy with a guitar--and no rehearsal!

Aside from a misunderstanding about the length and content of one song (oh, I am really blowing with the wind now!) and me skipping a verse on another, (oops!) on the whole it went VERY well, and it was nice to have a partner. We worked with the female rabbi, and she was very sweet and organized (and my original champion.)

After, I did the kiddush (though I didn't know they wanted me to, and took my sweet time getting downstairs!) and then everybody wanted to talk to me. SO many nice comments (voice, music, service,) and a few that really meant something special. Several said how much they enjoy my services, what a nice change it makes from the cantor and how I seemed more relaxed tonight, which made them more comfortable. (They didn't know I spent the WHOLE DAY SHAKING with fear. Literally.) I don't know where this fear comes from, but it has been my companion for so many years. If only I could make it my friend. We'll see if I live long enough!

To the cantor, who gave me a bear hug--I asked if it was better, he said "MUCH better, in fact on another level entirely!" and then went on to praise (again--he loves it) the Yihyu L'Ratzon that goes into the Hirsh Oseh Shalom. He thinks it isn't long enough and wants me to make it longer with a solo for me at the end because "with the clapping and singing they forget how you made them feel at the beginning!" Well!

And then a woman came up, and we 3 talked, and she said to me, "do you have the siddur Hebrew?" and the cantor said, "oh, yes, she has it all!" (Oy, did I knock on wood then!) That was one of the things that brought my "score" on the first service WAY down--the pronunciation. Then the head rabbi, I asked how it was, better than the last time? "Oh, yes, yes! I enjoyed the service very much!" So I feel pretty good!

Then a lovely dinner at my dear friend, sister, Aliza's--can that woman cook! I helped with the dishes and made myself a refrigerator dish of leftovers for Sunday when I work! Nice to be at a place where I know where the refrigerator dishes are, and can feel free to make a doggy bag!

That catches us up to the next post, which already I wrote!