Cantor’s Column – April 2020

Music Speaks Louder Than Words

Cantor Ilan Davidson

In 1983, Peter, Paul, & Mary recorded their song, Music Speaks Louder Than Words. In it, they professed that “it’s the only thing that the whole world listens to” and that “when you sing, people understand.” It never fails, when I visit somebody who is ill, that we can spend an hour laughing and chatting, often without deep emotion, but when I sing the Mi Shebeirach, a wave of deep cathartic emotion flows through them. Rabbi Lieb, of blessed memory, used to bemoan the fact that he could spend the week preparing the perfect sermon, then I would sing a song related to it, and people would tell me how much the song touched them without so much as mentioning his sermon. I would, of course, remind them, and him, that my choice of music was inspired by his words.

When we find ourselves isolated, in these times, we can find great comfort through music. Sometimes a mundane message suddenly takes on a new light. Other times, we choose a particular song to listen to because its message, or even just its music, touches us so deeply. Throughout these times of isolation I have tried and will continue to share opportunities to listen to incredible new Jewish music through LIVE Facebook concerts, recordings and clips, and, of course, by sharing them with you in my Cantor’s Corner on Tuesday nights at 7 pm. I know that some of this music may just be entertaining, but others might truly touch your soul. In those cases, I would love to hear from you about whose music and which songs were most meaningful or moving.

Finally, as Passover approaches, allow yourselves to explore the incredibly meaningful texts and music from the Haggadah. We will also share some of these melodies, as well as some very talented parodies, through links in our Passover Seder materials, so that you might be stirred and moved by your Passover Seder, even in isolation and through ZOOM. As we welcome the newness of Spring, I hope you all take the time each day to listen to something new, and when you love something, share it with me and others, so we are exposed to things new and wonderful. Hag Sameah!