1. Blessing (Lech L’cha) – For many, Debbie Friedman is a pioneer in the musical scene of the Jewish Reform movement, having introduced folk music and crowd participation to the services. Debbie was not only a beloved member of Congregation Beth Chayim Chadashim, but she also premiered one of her most famous songs L’chi Lach at BCC back in 1986, which she wrote together with Savina Teubal. I wanted to pay tribute to Debbie Friedman, not only for the great musician and educator she was, but also for her strong ties with BCC. Lech L’cha samples Debbie’s original vocals in a song that – similar to L’chi Lach – is about one’s journey and trusting that somehow things fall into place.

ישנו נהר
וגשר צר
והעיקר-לא לפחד כלל
מסילות ומזוודות
אפשרויות ואין סוף מטרות
משהו מכוון, מישהו מחשב
סולל את דרכך
מישהו מקשיב
בין ברלין לתל-אביב
לכי לך
אל תעצור תמשיך לנוע
אל הווה גלוי
עתיד לא ידוע
לך לך
בקצה המטרה
האופק נושא הבטחה
לכי לך
גם אם תרגיש אבוד
מי יודע מה יקרה
בדרכך אל המחר
and you shall be a blessing
and you shall be a blessing
לכי לך
ואם תביט לאחור
מה שזרעת בדמעה ברינה תקצור
געגועים בך אוחזים
כשמעבר לחלון
מתווסף לו זכרון
תמשיך להאמין
שמישהו מקשיב
מישהו מנווט
מישהו מחשב
שבדרכך תהיה לברכה
…לכי לך
and when you go,
go for yourself
as you make your way
through your time and space
be fearless
…תמשיך להאמין

2. L’cha Dodi – a melody I originally wrote for Psalms 85:11 found its way to this Poem sung on Friday nights to greet the Shabbat. It was a lot of fun to harmonize spontaneously on the chorus, while recording the song!

Come, my friend, to meet the bride; let us welcome the Sabbath.
“Observe” and “Remember,” in a single command, the One
God announced​ to us.
Adonai is One, and Adonai’s name is One,
for God’s name,​ for glory and for praise…

3. Ma’ariv Aravim – I try to purchase new music every time I’m in Israel for a visit. I discovered this setting during a visit in 2011 in a Hasidic Music songbook, introduced it to my congregation, received quite fond response for it and have been singing it ever since (almost) every Friday night. The wonderful Katie Cox happened to be in the studio during the recording of this song and I’m grateful for her beautiful flute playing!

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe,
who speaks the evening into being,
skillfully opens the gates,
thoughtfully alters the time and changes the seasons,
and arranges the stars in their heavenly courses according to plan.
You are Creator of day and night,
rolling light away from darkness and darkness from light,
transforming day into night and distinguishing one from the other.
Adonai Tz’vaot is Your Name.

– From the Reform Prayerbook Mishkan T’fillah

4. Psalm 100 – 2012’s trip to Berlin with the Cantors Assembly made me look back at the astonishing catalogue of Cantorial music written in the late 19th century when reform Judaism was blooming in most of Western Europe. I love Naumbourg’s majestic setting for Psalm 100 and yes, I also love electronic music. Inspired by William Orbit’s work, I wanted to give Psalm 100 a modern interpretation. I hope you like the result.

A psalm for praise
Raise a shout for Adonai, all the earth;
worship Adonai in gladness;
come into God’s presence with shouts of joy.
Acknowledge that Adonai is God;
They made us and we are Theirs
Their people, the flock They tends.
Enter God’s gates with praise,
God’s courts with acclamation.
Praise God!
Bless God’s name!
For the Adonai is good;
God’s steadfast love is eternal;
God’s faithfulness is for all generations.

5. R’tzeh – I’m often humbled when congregants report about musical moments during services when their spirit is touched. This beautiful setting of R’tzeh by Stephen Richards is one of those pieces that, when I first introduced it, elicited quite a lot of those positve responses.

Find Favor, Adonai, Our God, with your people Israel
and accept their prayer in love.
May the worship of Your people Israel always be acceptable.
God who is near to all who call, turn lovingly to your servants.
Pour out your spirit upon us.

– From the Reform Prayerbook Mishkan T’fillah

6. House of New Life – I wrote this song together with BCC member Tamara Kline to celebrate BCC’s new building dedication. BCC member Davi Cheng and Lauren Schlau are also featured here, with their sounding of the Shofar.

May you come in love
May you come in peace
May you open the door
And find what you need
May you be amazed
with what we achieve
When we’re working together
May you find your truth
May you find your faith
May you find compassion
Comfort and strength
May you feel blessed
in this community
That we’re building together
If I’m not for myself, who am I?
Yet we know we need each other

This is our vision
This is our home
We can be who we are
and know we’re not alone
With all our hearts
Our souls and might
Together we’ll build
A house of new life

May we stand up in hope
May we reach out with care
With dreams to discover
And a world to repair
May we feel the power
the power of one
When we’re singing together

If we’re not for ourselves,
who are we then?
If we’re in this together…
If not now, when?

Gather around in the
House of New Life
Stand up in the House of New Life
Reach out in the House of New Life
Celebrate in the
House of New Life

7. Matay‘s lyrics were written by BCC member Henry Wudl. I loved the tenderness of the lyrics and setting the melody to it and am so glad it made its way to the album.

מתי אמצא אותו תפוח
אשר פריו לחיקי יימתק
מתי אראה ביום שיפוח
ונס צל בדידותי ויעתק
מתי אמצא רווח לרווחתי
ולא עוד שוועתי תהיה לשווא
מתי אתעדן באור דודי
ולא יחיד ארוץ
אלא נרוץ יחדיו

8. Shirat Ha’asavim – I met the wonderfully talented Cantor Magda Fishman back in 2012 in NYC. We led a service together at BCC’s sister congregation CBST. We sang Shirat Ha’assavim together during that service, which took place during the holiday of Tu Bishvat. Over the past years Magda’s and my path crossed several times and it’s always a pleasure to hear her sing, or to sing with her. Luckily, Magda agreed to sing with me again and it was a pleasure recording this with her.

Know that each and every shepherd has his own tune.
Know that each and every grass has its own song.
And from the song of the grasses the tune of the shepherd is made
How beautiful, how beautiful and pleasant to hear their song.
It’s very good to pray among them and to serve Hashem in joy
And from the song of the grasses the heart is filled and yearns.
And when the the heart is filled by the song and yearns for the Land of Israel a great light is drawn forth and goes from the Land’s holiness unto it.
And from the song of the grasses the tune of the heart is made

From http://www.neohasid.org

9. Shalem – On a plane ride from Tel-Aviv to Los Angeles the lyrics to Shalem came to me. Something about being in between time-zones, in-between continents, and in-between landing and departure allowed these feelings of wholeness to come up.

בין המראה לנחיתה
בין המקור למטרה
הזמן מתערבב
הוא מרדים כאב
מעצים את חוסר השליטה
כי מה עוד נותר
מלבד העכשיו
להיות כאן לבד

כאילו לא נסדקתי
כאילו לא נשברתי
כאילו לא רבצתי בחשיכה
כאילו לא קינאתי
ככה בין לבין
אין רגע יותר הולם
להרגיש שלם

אם אתאפק
צל של ספק
יסוג לאחור, עד ששוב יחזור
לאט לאט נפתח
כמו צופן מפוצח

As if I never cracked
As if I never broke
As if I never lied in the darkness
As if I never felt envy
Just like that
In between
I feel whole…

11. Eilu D’vorim – These mishnaic words remind me of the timeless miracle that being in community is. How blessed are we as humankind to have the ability to connect with one another in joy and in sorrow. These words and the musical setting ground me when life takes me away from this truth.

These are the things that are limitless
Which allow us to enjoy the fruit of the world
while the reward remains in the world to come.
They are honoring our father and mother,
engaging in deeds of compassion,
arriving early for study, morning and evening,
dealing graciously with guests,
visiting the sick,
providing for the wedding couple,
accompanying the dead for burial,
being devoted in prayer,
and making peace among people.
Learning to do these blessings encompasses them all.”

1 Blessing (Lech L’cha) Music & Lyrics by Debbie Friedman and Juval Porat / Contains a sample of L´chi Lach written by Debbie Friedman / Used by permission / © 2012 Estate of Debbie Friedman / All rights administered by ArtistShare Music Publishing LLC 2 L’cha Dodi Music by Juval Porat/Lyrics by Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz 3 Ma’ariv Aravim Music by Eli Friedman / Lyrics from the Liturgy / Published by Eli Friedman / Flute by Katie Cox 4Hari’u (Psalm 100) Music by Samuel Naumbourg 5 R’tzeih Music by Stephen Richards / © Transcontinental Music Publications, All Rights Reserved / Lyrics from the Liturgy / Piano by Mike Meehan 6 House Of New Life Music by Juval Porat / Lyrics by Tamara Kline and Juval Porat / Shofar by Davi Cheng and Lauren Schlau 7 Matay Music by Juval Porat / Lyrics by Henry Wudl 8 Shirat Ha’assavim Featuring Cantor Magda Fishman / Music by Naomi Shemer / Lyrics by Rav Nachman from Brazlav / Published by Buddah Music  9 Shalem written by Juval Porat 10 Elu D´vorim Written by Jacob Rapaport / Lyrics from the Mishna / Piano Arrangement by Morris Barash / Piano by Mike Meehan