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Hope in Prayer

05/13/2020 09:00:55 AM


Beth Schafer

If you’ve been able to join us for services, you might remember that I’ve been opening with a nigun I wrote in isolation, titled Resilience Nigun. Nigunim (plural) are the wordless melodies that we sing, as the music that separates what’s going on “out there” (meaning outside the sanctuary) to what’s going on “in here” (inside the sanctuary).

During these times we are exiled from our sanctuary, and are making sanctuaries in our homes. As we pray our way toward Shavuot, I am reminded of Psalm 137 when the Jewish people exiled from Jerusalem ask, “How can we sing God’s song in a foreign land?” And yet, each week, we sing the nigun, we find joy in its melody and hang on to it as the musical marker that ushers us into prayer. We are singing songs in foreign lands. We are strong and we hold on. It’s what the Jewish people do.

This is the hope of prayer. To know that if we participate, if we lean in, if we step away from what’s going on “out there” (a world riddled by pandemic) and turn toward what’s going on “in here” (an open heart reaching out to God and community), then we will be ok.

People ask me how I’m doing through all this. The truth is, I’m ok, but I miss you terribly. One of the best parts of my job is to sing with you. Singing in a vacuum and not hearing your voices is so very hard. You have learned this nigun in your home, isolated from the voices of the other Sinai families. You have heard me sing it, but I have not heard you. One day we will return from our exile and sing again in one room, many voices as one. When we hear each other sing that nigun, it will be a testament to our resilience as a community. I have no doubt that I will be profoundly moved to hear you again. That vision gives me great hope every time I sing. I pray that that time comes swiftly.

Shabbat shalom my friends,


Mon, August 3 2020 13 Av 5780