We are blessed this Rosh Hashanah to have Rabbi Daniel Siegel as our cantor (ḥazzan). He is the father of our much loved cantorial soloist Shefa Siegel who will not be joining us for the High Holy Days.
This summer Shefa married an amazing woman. Now Shefa and his new bride, Micol, live in Northern Italy where they work for a Pearson College sister school located on the Adriatic Coast. I know we will miss his incredible voice and his creative interpretations of traditional prayers.
Rabbi Siegel is an elder within Renewal Judaism and is truly a rabbis’ rabbi, who has trained and educated many rabbis leading the Renewal movement today. He has a wonderful voice and a breadth of knowledge of Jewish liturgical music that is encyclopedic. Rabbi Siegel holds traditional prayer with great integrity and intention. He does not improvise in the same manner as his son Shefa but he brings instead deep resonance to his davening. I am looking forward to having my friend Daniel here as a powerful prayer leader for Rosh Hashanah and a trusting supportive friend and rabbi.
I look forward to connecting and entering prayerful space with everyone.
May we all have a sweet and good New Year (Shanah Tovah u’ Metukah).
As we approach the High Holy Days, please keep in mind that reserved seating is no longer available for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. During 2016 High Holy Days, we found that reserved seats were often empty. New members and others attending services for the first time found it difficult to determine where they could sit. We will do our best to accommodate people with disabilities. If you have special needs, please contact our Synagogue Director Betsi Boeno during office hours at 250-382-0615.
Note this is a date change! Wednesday September 13, at 7 pm — Prepare our Hearts and Minds for the Days of Awe. The High Holy Days are fast approaching. Our Religious Services Committee has arranged two preparatory evenings – Wednesday, September 13, at 7 pm and Saturday, September 16, at 9 pm.
For the third consecutive year, High Holy Day services at Emanu-El will feature the davening of Shefa Siegel. Shefa mixes the traditional modes, or nusaḥim, of Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, with the songs of Leonard Cohen, melodies of Shlomo Carlebach, Persian classical music, and original compositions. He approaches prayer as devotional storytelling, using nusaḥ, liturgical poetry, and song to create sacred experience.
Song, especially our old sacred modes, springs from a spirit more ancient than law or scripture. Before any revelation of holy writ, Sinai still in the distance, the Israelites learned the “Song of the Sea” while travelling across the ocean floor, where music has its source. And long after all wisdom goes into oblivion, there still will be song, for in the beginning was not the word, but a melody. On Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur we go on a pilgrimage of the imagination. We chant our way to places marked by the sacred exploits of ancestors before following the pure sound of the shofar to the origin in a blinding moment of union.
Prayer may no longer spring so naturally or easily out of daily life, but the key to unlocking its sacred experience is nothing more complicated than sincerity. Each prayer has its own mode, nusaḥ, whose arabesques transfigure liturgical poetry from words on a page to worlds appearing like islands on the sea. Just as a navigator knows that if you see the image of the island in your mind, you will never be lost, prayer uses these old modes to know ourselves, by remembering how we got here. “You’d sing,” Leonard Cohen writes. “You’d sing, not for yourself, but to make a self.”
Rabbi Harry and Aaron Severs our Gabbai will from time to time call out page numbers from the Maḥzor, the High Holy Day prayer book. This does not mean that you, as a participant, need to jump to the page. If you are reading or studying a part of the Maḥzor that is speaking to you by all means stay where you are. If you are connecting to the music and the vibe in the synagogue and want to put down the prayer book that is a great thing to do as well. Tfilah(”prayer” in Hebrew) is about being reflective and connecting to the Transcendent. In Yiddish the word davennen holds the word divine within it. Prayer can be about allowing ourselves at a soul level to connect to Divine Source. Using the music and the beautiful light in our sanctuary as a place of meditation can be a powerful and renewing exercise.
Before various prayer segments of the service Rabbi Harry will give a short teaching about the intentions of the prayers, deconstructing the technology of the liturgy, teasing out what the liturgy is trying to accomplish.
We are excited to connect with everyone this upcoming holiday season and we look forward to davening and learning together.
Preparing our hearts, mind and soul for the Days of Awe
Saturday night, September 24
Rabbi Harry for Motza’ei Shabbat starting at 8:00 pm and an evening of spiritual cleansing, chanting, guided
meditation and a traditional annulling of empty promises followed by a Sliḥot
service. The Sliḥot service is a concentrated effort to stir compassion and
forgiveness before Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgement. The service is based on
ancient liturgical poems and prayers of forgiveness.
“The Membership Committee sends heartfelt thanks to David Levine for
organizing and taking charge of High Holy Days reserved seating in the
sanctuary. David took on this task to carry on the well-loved tradition of
reserved seats. We know that the congregation members appreciate this service. Kol HaKavod, David, from your grateful committee.”