September 2015 scroll article

In January, we will read in the Torah about the crossing of the Red Sea by the Hebrew slaves coming out of Egypt. We will read the poem Moses sang to G!d, we will head how Miriam led the people in dance. In the Haftarah from the book of Judges, we will read the song that the prophetess Deborah sang after the victory over the Canaanites. Because of this, we call this Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of Song.
As Cantor of Temple Beth Shalom, part of my role is to continually invigorate our worship services and holiday celebrations with song. We had an incredible Chanukah celebration with the Shalom Singers and Ru’ach & Roll, which showcased our Temple Beth Shalom talent and I wanted to harness that momentum. I was on a search for new material: contemporary arrangements of old favorites or more challenging pieces. It is not always easy to find such things, as our choir is small and I have to specifically look for two or three part music, but this year, I had a secret weapon: Susan Match.
Over the summer, Susan sent me a huge box of music. I eagerly put the box in my closet, looking forward to the day when I could open it, and savor every little piece of paper inside. The summer days passed quickly into the High Holidays, and after that, nothing slowed down at Temple Beth Shalom until after Chanukah. For months, that treasure trove of music sat on the couch, taunting me every time I walked into my office; and then, finally, I found myself with free time.
I took off the cover of the box and was immediately overwhelmed by its contents: music books, choir music, articles- I dug right in. I sat on the floor in my office, amidst piles of music- sorting, reading, and playing. I discovered composers of whom I had not heard, and found interesting unfamiliar pieces from known musicians. Not only did I enrich my own knowledge, I found some great songs for our synagogue musicians to learn. My search was very fruitful and the timing could not have been better.
Susan’s gift has been invaluable to me, and it is deeply appreciated. Anyone can add to the musical life of the synagogue if s/he has the right guidance tool. A great resource that I often use is oysongs.com, owned by Susan Colin. This website has a huge collection of digital tracks and sheet music from both contemporary and older Jewish musicians. You can search by genre, composer, artist, holiday, and even language. I encourage everyone to take a look at this website, just to get an idea of the breadth of Jewish music that is out there. You may even find a piece for us to sing at Temple Beth Shalom!
I am excited to present my new musical discoveries to the congregation at Shabbatot and Holidays with the Shalom Singers and Ru’ach & Roll. As always, TBS members are welcome to join either our choir or our band (or both!), and should contact me for more information. Happy New Year to all!

Cantor Dannah Rubinstein