The High Holidays are a time to reflect, renew and refresh. It is a time where our souls are laid bare, our brokenness exposed – and the power to heal comes from the strength and vibrancy of this community, joining together in strength and song.
Attached are two original pieces of music I composed for the holidays (link here. ) Both pieces of music come from texts we repeat often throughout the season of repentance, and we will have the opportunity to sing both traditional and new settings of each. The first piece, B’sefer Chayyim, implores God to write us in the book of life, blessing, sustenance, and peace. The second piece, Luleh He’emanti, comes from the Psalm we say every day between the first of Elul and Shemini Atzeret – Psalm 27 – that ends with the words: Mine is the faith that I will surely see God’s goodness in the land of the living. Hope in God and be strong.
If you haven’t already begun your inner preparation for the holiday, allow the music attached here to gently begin the process. Let it transport you and uplift you, let it open your heart towards Teshuvah (turning).
Begin to think for yourself: what do I need this year? Not what do I need to do, what do I need? How can the practices of davening, meditation, singing, bowing, sitting, standing, thinking, help me to get what I need, to encourage my own turning, to renew myself for the year to come? I encourage you to “get lost” in the machzor, to linger with a word, phrase or melody, to enter your own reverie even if the service has “moved on,” for sometimes it is in the between places that we find what we need.
Sometimes it is the sheer power of these words, those notes, that shofar blast, this dear friend or relative near you, that nurtures your spirit. When we are nurtured in this way, our hearts open more readily to forgive, and be forgiven. Forgiveness is not about forgetting, rather about deciding to live with the past in a healthy way. Ultimately, this is what helps us heal.
May this year 5778 be sweet in its beginning, and may it unfold with possibility and potential.
Hazzan Joanna S. Dulkin