Cantor’s Column – September 2021

Shir Hadash – A New Song

Cantor Ilan Davidson

As summer draws to a close and we prepare to welcome a new Jewish year, once again we look inward to begin the process of T’Shuvah, a return to our own level of holiness. We ask ourselves where we could have been better people this past year, who we may have hurt along our way, and what we could have done differently to repair our world. Sometimes this process is crystal clear, but we all know that it is never easy.

Personally, as I prepare for the High Holidays, my thoughts always turn to you, my congregation, and how I can serve you better. These past 19 months have truly taken a toll on all of us, and once again, we are entering the High Holy Days with many of us looking at a screen. It is clear to me how important these Holy Days are to each of you, and I spend a great deal of my time in the weeks leading up to these Days of Awe considering the way in which we will all pray together during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, especially as we find ourselves still faced with Covid restrictions.

But what then is my job? Am I to stand on high and pray for you? Am I merely there to facilitate your prayer or do I have moments for personal prayer as well? Should there be moments for all of us to pray and sing as community, even if it is in our own living rooms, or is this all about introspection? The answer to all these questions is a rousing “Yes!” As the Cantor of this congregation, it has always been my goal that each of you leaves the High Holy Day services feeling that in some way we on the Bima, or the screen, fulfilled your own personal spiritual need. From a liturgical, as well as musical standpoint, this has meant satiating you with the familiar, while challenging some of you with new modes of prayer. It has also meant providing you with enough congregational singing of prayer, while offering times that you could listen and be moved by the prayer. Of course, some of you enjoy the sound of an organ, while others prefer a piano or guitar, and still others love traditional, a cappella Hazzanut, so this must be taken into consideration, as well. And for some of us, the choir adds so much, while for others it can be a bit of a distraction, so we must balance and include their participation, too. It is impossible to imagine that I can fulfill all your needs, all the time, but finding moments that fulfill each and every one of your needs is our goal on these High Holy Days and I always try to do my part to provide those moments.

So, as we all experience these upcoming Yamim Nora’im, I hope that you will let Rabbi and me know about the moments that truly move you. I hope that everybody has a fulfilling and thoughtful High Holidays, and that the year ahead may be one filled with sweet moments and goodness, and, of course, good health and safety. If I have done anything in this past year that may have fallen short of your expectations of me, or hurt you in any way, I ask your forgiveness and hope that we may speak about these transgressions.

Shana Tova U’Metuka – May we all have a year of Goodness and Sweetness.