Three melodies for the Order of the Seder
Vayikra: divrei Torah on the first parsha in Leviticus


Reb David and Reb Rachel

With David, last summer at the 2011 ALEPH Kallah.

What a treat this past Shabbat turned out to be!

My dear friend Reb David came to visit, and together we led davenen (prayer) at my shul. We'd realized, early on, that Saturday was going to be St. Patrick's Day, and we wanted to mark that in some way. "We should set a piece of liturgy to the tune of something Irish," I emailed him. "What Irish melodies do we know?"

A few hours later, I got an email in return featuring an mp3 of David singing "Mi Chamocha" to the tune of "O Danny Boy." I laughed. And then I wrote back promising him that we would do it, for sure. When else in my life was I likely to get that opportunity?

As it happened, we had special visitors this weekend: a handful of folks from the Greenfield shul up the road. Between their added energy, and the assembled folks from my community, we had quite a little crowd!

Leading with David was a joy, as always. He played keyboard; I played guitar. We brought a few melodies which were new(ish) to my community -- R' Marcia Prager's setting of "Mah Tovu" (which may be the only tune I know in 13/8), R' Hana Tiferet Siegel's setting of "Ashrei" -- and also repurposed a few from elsewhere, like Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" (which we used for Psalm 150) and, on a suggestion from the kahal, the classic "When the Saints Come Marching In" (which we used for "Adon Olam.")

This week's Torah portion was the very end of the book of Exodus. As soon as it was over, we broke into song -- the melody for "Chazak chazak v'nitchazek" which we'd taught earlier in the morning. David offered a d'var Torah which explored the question of what it might mean that at the end of Exodus the entire community of Israel sees the fire and the cloud, together.

And then after our oneg (which featured not one but two beautiful small birthday cakes!), a handful of folks stayed to learn a Kedushat Levi text, which led us into a conversation about how when we enter into Shabbat wholly, we heal the workweek.

This Shabbat felt restorative. As a working rabbi, as a working mother, I've found that Shabbat doesn't always feel like the oasis in holy time that I want it to be. But this week I glimpsed that. I'm grateful.