Jewish tradition identifies three basic categories of prayer: petitionary, thanksgiving and awe. (Someone suggested that these three categories might be better identified as “Gimme, Thanks & Wow!”)
I’d like to suggest a fourth prayer category, one that I call “Exuberance”. For me, prayers of exuberance are always wrapped up with music and singing. While the language of our liturgy can sometimes be theologically challenging, encountering those words in a musical setting is a qualitatively different experience for me; it’s as if prayer-set-to-music bypasses that analytical part of my brain which, normally, takes a critical look at words on the pages of the siddur. The act of singing a prayer with an evocative tune transforms and elevates the experience into one of....exuberance!
Truth be told, one of the greatest joys of my work as a rabbi flows from the privilege I have of making music when I lead worship. And that is never more true than on that one Friday night each year– Boomer Shabbat --when music totally shapes our worship experience. Drawing upon popular music of the 1960's and ‘70's, and finding some thematic link between the songs and each of the Shabbat evening prayers, we give ourselves over to the joy of music...to an exuberant way praying!
Boomer Shabbat this year falls on July 21 at 7:30 PM in the Meeting House. Our “Boomer Band” this year consists of Pamela Rothstein (guitar and vocals), Ken Freedman (keyboard), Bart Weisman (drums) and me (guitar and vocals). This year marks the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love’ and some of our song selections will honor that milestone. So mark your calendar, dig out your love beads, bell-bottoms and tie-dye shirts, and be sure to wear some flowers in your hair....if you still have hair! (Sigh....)