After this morning’s breakfast and discussion about the future of the Reform Machzor, the day opened with an inspiring service with music set by Noam Katz, Katie Bauman, and Larry Englander. Dan Medwin brought Visual T’fillah to life and allowed all the service participants to look up. We were given the opportunity to actually look at the bima and at faces of those around us. It was a moment of being a part of the larger community rather than with our eyes only in the book.
Noam, Katie and Larry brought inspirational music to our lips. Some of the music was familiar while other settings were new. What was exciting was how everyone in the room tried out the new tunes embracing something different and engaging in new harmony. As we were reminded, rabbis were lay participants today, and that was awesome!
The music continued in the form of study and yes, in the form of the state of the movement addresses by the CEO of the CCAR, Steve Fox, and the newly installed President, Jonathan Stein. One voice cannot stand out alone in our movement, rather, the harmony of multiple voices are needed to truly remind us, as Steve Fox said in his remarks, “continue to reform Reform Judaism.”
Finally, the evening closed as we wandered the vibrant streets of the French Quarter arriving at the historical Preservation Hall. In this small, what seemed to once be two room, now one “larger” room, hall, New Orleans life exhaled. This is the voice of New Orleans. This is where the music of generations past and generations in the future are inspired and motivated to create, dream and live. This was where 50-75 individuals, sitting and standing in a small space were enveloped in the music of the Hall musicians and let go of concern for personal space and were entranced by the moment.
Preservation Hall should be an inspiration for us, our congregations, and today’s Jewish life. It reminds us that there is beauty in the oldies, yet there is life left to be breathed into each note. That sometimes, following musical notations as written is not enough. You have to feel the moment, let it wash over you and then groove with it. What comes out may surprise you, and it can bless.