Rabbi's Weekly Message

A Message from Rabbi Wexler ~ Thursday, December 6

Hanukkah Sameah -- Happy Hanukkah! Hanukkah celebrates the blessings of old as well as the miracles that surround us every day. It also celebrates light. And this week has certainly been a week filled with love and light at TBS! Since Sunday there have been many special TBS Hanukkah celebrations and programs. Nigel Savage, the President and CEO of Hazon, came to TBS to teach about the intersection of sustainability and Jewish tradition. Rabbi Arie Hasit visited and taught on the work and community building he is doing in Israel. We had our annual HaMakom Hanukkah party, the choir (Makhelat Beth Sholom) sang for residents at Lions Gate. Our preschoolers shined in our Eric B. Jacobs ECEC Hanukkah show. And of course, on Wednesday night, the fourth night of Hanukkah was celebrated with a bang as many of us enjoyed our amazing Hanukkah Fireworks Celebration in partnership with PJ Library and Kellman Brown Academy. Wow!

There have been so many special moments during this incredible week, but for me, the highlight has been lighting the Hanukkiyah and singing the blessings with so many members of our community. From toddlers, to teens to adults, we have come together to bring forth and share light and we have come together to sing. Music is powerful. It serves as a common language and as a unifying force. Song can often speak to the heart in a way that words cannot. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes brilliantly on the power of song:

There is an inner connection between music and the spirit. When language aspires to the transcendent, and the soul longs to break free of the gravitational pull of the earth, it modulates into song. Music, said Arnold Bennett, is “a language which the soul alone understands but which the soul can never translate.” It is, in Richter’s words, “the poetry of the air.” Tolstoy called it “the shorthand of emotion.” Goethe said, “Religious worship cannot do without music. It is one of the foremost means to work upon man with an effect of marvel.” Words are the language of the mind. Music is the language of the soul.

Music is the language of the soul. Music is at the center of Hanukkah. And music is at the core of TBS. It is with this in mind that we now look towards Shabbat Hanukkah and we look forward to welcoming this weekend our Musician in Residence, Josh Warshawsky. Josh is in his final year of rabbinical school at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. A colleague and a personal friend, Josh is a talented educator and a brilliant musician. We look forward to the music and the spirit that Josh will bring to TBS this weekend and we hope you will join us on Friday night at 6:15pm for a spirited Kabbalat Shabbat and on Saturday morning (services begin at 9:30am) for an enhanced prayer experience that Josh will be leading. This service will include more singing, new tunes, and drums! Yes, it will in some ways be quite different from our normal Shabbat service, but we encourage you to come with an open mind…and to let your heart sing!

The Shabbat morning service will also serve as the kick-off to an alternative monthly musical prayer experience (held during the Torah service), which we are calling Shir HaLev (song of the heart) that will begin next month. More information on this to come. In preparation for Josh’s visit, I encourage everyone to check out his website and his beautiful music. We hope you will join us this Shabbat!

Wishing everyone a Hanukkah filled with light, love, and song!

Hag Urim Sameah and Shabbat Shalom!