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Songs in this section draw on themes and prayer texts that apply throughout the High Holiday season, from the beginning of the month of Elul to the end of Yom Kippur.
“Achat Sha’alti” (Psalm 27) by Rabbi Emily Cohen
“Achat Sha’alti” (Psalm 27) by David Alon Friedman
Performers: Combined choirs of West End Synagogue (New York, N.Y.) and Mosaic Law Congregation (Sacramento, Calif.); Conductor: Brian Kreiswirth; Pianist: David Friedman
“Achat Sha’alti” by David Lefkowich
This is a setting for the opening lines of Psalm 27, the penitential Psalm, which in Jewish tradition is recited every day in the month before Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. I find these words comforting and supportive of the challenging work of teshuvah, turning and returning toward our best, most whole selves. Accompaniment is by Peter Simpkins.
“Beauty” by Will Robertson
This original song of mine has become a beloved tune to our congregation, and especially in this time when so much feels shifting and at risk, it has felt really important and grounding to be able to take in the beauty of the world that surrounds us. © 2011 Gallop Music (ASCAP) Sheet music available on request.
“Do Not Be Daunted” by Emily Bengels
This song is based on “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief.”
“Eyeh Asher Eyeh” by Gayanne Geurin and Will Robertson
For High Holy Days 5781 - A message for listening at this critical time in humankind’s relationship to the Earth. Psalm 85:12 - Emet M’Eretz Titzmach / For all truths emanate from the earth. Truth springs up from the Earth
“Gesher Tzar Me’od” by Joanie Calem
“HaRofei Lishvurei Lev/Healer of the Brokenhearted” (Psalm 147) by Rena Branson
“I Will Carry You/V’Ad Seva (Inspired by Isaiah 46:4)” by Rena Branson
“La’asok B’tzorchey Tzibbur” by Rabbi Margot Stein and Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz
This blessing for the work we do on behalf of others, for the common good, was commissioned by Reconstructing Judaism to commemorate the 11 year board service of David Roberts. Try using it to set the tone for communal prayer and to begin events with the intention of using our time together to make a difference.
Music with Chords:
“Limnot Yameynu” (Psalm 90) by Rabbi Margot Stein
Psalm 90 is recited throughout the Yama’im Nora’im and is particularly poignant at times when we meditate on the meaning of life and death. This version focuses on the blessings that we have received, and how wisdom can help us count them.
“Listen” by Joanie Calem
Exploration of themes from the Shema prayer
“Luley” (Psalm 27) by Rabbi Margot Stein
Psalm 27 is recited daily from the first of Elul through the end of Sukkot. This version focuses on the final two lines of the Psalm.
“Modim Anachnu Lach” by David Lefkowich
In this setting, I use the words “modim anachnu lach” as a refrain between many sentiments of things I/we appreciate. This melody has “traveled” a bit, and others have added verses describing their “modim moments”. It is meant to be flexible in that way. I hope you enjoy it.
“Oseh Shalom” by Joanie Calem
“Petach Libi/Libenu” by Rena Branson
From the end of the Amidah, all services
“Pitchu Li” by David Lefkowich
“Renew - Hashivenu” by Rabbi Hannah Spiro
“The Narrow Bridge” by Emily Bengels
This song based on Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s prayer “Life is a narrow bridge but the main thing is not to fear.”
“Uvacharta Bachayim”/We Choose to Live (Devarim 30:19) by Rena Branson
“Vayashan Mip’ney Hadash / When Old Makes Way For The New” by Rabbi Rayzel Raphael
“Hashkivenu” by Lorenzo Valensi
For Shabbat/Rosh Hashanah Evening. This piece uses Hebrew and English excerpts of the prayer; the English is taken from the Kol Haneshamah siddur.
“V’Shamru” by Cantor Marcelo Gindlin
(for Rosh Hashanah falling on Shabbat)
“Achot Ketana” by Will Robertson
Our update of the ancient melody of Achot Ketana, a piyyut used in the Rosh Hashanah liturgy. The band, choir and drum loops dance this prayer to life. “Let the year and its curses end, and let the new year and its blessings begin!” Performed by the Chorus and Band of Congregation Bet Haverim. Originally released on the 2013 album Wheels Within Wheels.
“Candle Blessing for Yom Tov” by Cantor Marcelo Gindlin
“Hashkiveinu Lullaby” by Will Robertson
A choral setting of the Hashkiveinu prayer from the evening liturgy. This was a lullaby I wrote for my daughter when she was a baby. Performed by the Chorus of Congregation Bet Haverim, Atlanta, GA. Originally released on the 2013 album Wheels Within Wheels. Selected for the Shalshelet New Jewish Music Festival, 2013. Sheet music available upon emailed request.
“Ahavat Olam” by Will Robertson
My choral setting of Ahavat Olam. When we sing this in services, we surround the congregation at the end of the piece and invite them to sing with us. Performed by the Chorus of Congregation Bet Haverim, Atlanta, GA. Originally released on the 2013 album Wheels Within Wheels. Selected for the Shalshelet New Jewish Music Festival, 2013. Sheet music available upon emailed request.
“Unending Love” by Lorenzo Valensi
This is an upbeat, joyful setting of Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s “Unending Love,” as found in the Kol Haneshamah siddur.
This nigun (wordless melody) is inspired by the haftarah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah: the story of Chana, upon the birth of her son Shmuel/Samuel. “I imagine Chana singing with Shmuel in her arms. She is singing the secrets she has discovered through her practice of prayer….through her suffering. She is singing him the secrets of the universe. The secrets of G?d. I close my eyes and sing, imagining I am her, that I have what to sing to this child…though I know he won’t yet understand.” - S. Tygiel
“Tzadik Katamar” (Psalm 92) by David Alon Friedman
(for Rosh Hashanah falling on Shabbat)
This video is a virtual performance of “Tzadik Katamar” (Psalm 92:13-16) Composer: David Alon Friedman. Performers: Nashirah - the Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia. Nashirah Artistic Director: Dr. Julia Zavadsky. Collaborative Piano: Soyeon Bin. Recorded in May 2020. This performance and recording is dedicated to the memory of Hannah Reich (March 2002 - May 2020).
“Circle of Love” by Rabbi Rayzel Raphael
(for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur morning service — a four-part chant based on Ahavah Rabbah)
“Ki Hiney Chachomer/As a Lump of Clay” by Rabbi Emily Cohen
This piyyut, often included during High Holy Day liturgy, compares the human experience to that of various inanimate objects under skilled craftsmanship. While an interventionist divinity like that described in the piyyut is not entirely reflective of my own theology, the notion of being held and influenced by something greater than ourselves resonates for me.
Ki hiney chachomer b’yad hayotzer birtzoto marchiv uvirtzoto m’katzer. Kein anachnu v’yadcha chesed notzeir labrit habet v’al tefen layetzer
As a lump of clay held in the sculptor’s hand / As the sculptor shapes it, it will stretch and expand and grow small / So are we in your hand. Please, let love prevail. / Look to the promises you made and don’t let anger set our fate
“Who Will Be Gone?” by Irwin Keller
An interpretive setting of the “Who by Fire” query of Unetaneh Tokef. How do we live with the uncertainty of the length of our days and the circumstances of our deaths? With teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah: “coming home to our hearts, giving blessing out, and being people of justice can lighten the burden of this difficult world.”
“A Thousand Generations” by Emily Bengels
For yizkor and for the 13 Attributes of Mercy (slichot)
“Ner Adonai” by Gayanne Geurin
The text for this chant can be found in the Yom Kippur Morning Liturgy for Reconstructing Judaism’s New Liturgy for High Holidays 2020/5781. It is under the section “Light”. Ner Adonay nishmat adam hofays kol-hadray-vaten / My soul is the flame of God that searches the inner chambers. (Proverbs 20:27)
“This Be Dear to Me” by David Berkeley
The text for this contemporary psalm can be found in the Yom Kippur Morning Liturgy for Reconstructing Judaism’s New Liturgy for High Holidays 2020/5781. Performed by the Chorus and Strings of Congregation Bet Haverim | Arranged for chorus, strings and piano by Will Robertson
“Slicha” by Joanie Calem
“Yetzer HaRov, Yetzer HaRa” by Joanie Calem
“U’vechen Yihi Ratzon” by Charles Bernhardt
“Eyeh Asher Eyeh” by Gayanne Geurin/Will Robertson
Eyeh Asher Eyeh is in the Yom Kippur morning liturgy for the Reconstructing Judaism’s New Liturgy for High Holidays 2020/5781. You will find it in the Avodah Service.
“Adonai Ro’i” (Psalm 23) by Cantor George Henschel
“Yah, My Shepherd” (Psalm 23) by Cantor George Henschel
“At the Closing of the Gates” by Irwin Keller
This is a simple and haunting call-and-response lead-in to the Ne’ilah Service.