Friday, August 15, 2008

Nava Tehila's Lecha Dodi

Shabbat shalom folks.

Here's my Friday, get in the groove, video. This week's is a version of Lecha Dodi composed and recorded by Nava Tehila (a Jewish renewal community in Jerusalem). I got tipped of to this lovely recording by the Velvateen Rabbi.

Kabbalat Shabbat at Nava Tehlia - Lecha Dodi

Here's an excerpt of what Velvateen Rabbi had this to say in her post ...
"Nava Tehila, the local Jewish Renewal minyan, meets once a month. This Shabbat I attended my second monthly service there. In many ways it was like the first one, only more intense, and correspondingly more wonderful.

The basic structure of the service was what I've come to expect there: pearls from psalms, chanted repeatedly (to original melodies); singing and dancing; space for exultation and space for meditation; and, after the peak which is Lecha Dodi, a short and simple ma'ariv (evening) service. Once again, the service was co-led by the trio of shlichei tzibbur. Alongside them, Father Zachariah in his brown and white habit played violin soulfully; a few talented hand-drummers drummed. But tonight our dominant metaphor was the journey, because this week we're in parashat Mas'ei in which we read about the Israelites' journeying. Reb Ruth invited us, at the beginning, to think in terms of the journey of the evening, and to choose a real journey in our own lives on which to reflect deeply during our davenen. Since I've been on a literal journey this summer (with emotional resonances galore), that was my lens for the night.

So before each psalm in kabbalat Shabbat, Reb Ruth related each psalm to our own internal journeys. Lechu n'ran'na l'Adonai ("let us sing in joy to Adonai"): about getting ready to go, together. Hod v'hadar l'fanav ("splendor and beauty are before God"): about preparing for the journey -- figuring out what baggage we're bringing with us, and which personal/spiritual gifts too. (And so on.) When we reached "Ana B'Koach," which many Hasidim (and Renewal folks) sing after the six psalms and before "Lecha Dodi" which welcomes the Shabbat bride, one of the instrumentalists picked up a digeridoo and its eerie hum accompanied us along with the drum.

This week our "Lecha Dodi" was a waltz, which I loved. (See YouTube video, above.) Soon the whole room was filled with whirling waltzers, who slowly morphed their dance into a three-beat circle dance. It was extraordinary. "
Like I said, this quote is just an excerpt, go read the whole thing. And yes. She did mention the violin being played by the Catholic Father Zachariah. What's that about? Well, there's a story there. And here's how it goes...
"People started inquiring about ways of listening to the music outside of our time together. Visitors from overseas brought those niggunim to their home communities and we started receiving emails requesting a CD.

In mid-December we felt a push to produce a CD that came from the Holy Blessed One.

“Nu” He said in our hearts, “ How long are you going to wait?”

We prayed on the matter.

“We can’t carry this project alone. We need a producer, a producer who is spiritually connected to our work, professional and fun to work with!”

Our prayers were answered that same day. That evening Reb Ruth received a phone call from Father Zechariah, a regular member of our group and a monk in the Beatitudes Order. The Beatitudes are a Catholic group whose monastery is located in Emmaus near Latrun. They emphasize the Jewish roots of Christianity by celebrating Shabbat. They pray Kabbalat Shabbat using Jewish tunes. They have participated in our prayers since the beginning of our community.

Father Zechariah was calling to tell Ruth that there is a demand for new Shabbat tunes in their international Order. He asked whether they could do something with our music.

You can imagine our joyful amazement!

Shortly thereafter we learned that Father Zechariah, who had been playing his fiddle in our services, used to be a performer of Irish music. He produced music, conducted choirs, and he had even put out a number of CDs. We received all that we asked for and more because, like the rest of us, Father Zechariah is doing this work for the sake of Heaven"
That's quite a story. I wish them the best of luck and look forward to the CD being completed. To follow their adventures, you can read their music project blog or check their website.

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