Last night, I had the honor of leading a Selichot program at my home congregation, The Temple. Over the course of two hours our congregation gathered in a generous and engaged spirit for study, spiritual writing, and worship. It was a special evening for me personally because I was able to integrate three passions of my rabbinate: teaching, nurturing creativity, and sharing my original music.
Joined by Will Robertson, my musical chevruta, producer, and songwriting partner, Caroline Patterson, one of the most talented and thoughtful vocalists I’ve ever worked with, and Bob Michek, a truly professional percussionist and longtime bandmate, I finally had a chance to share some of the quieter, more reflective, and gentler of the music I’ve written over the last couple of years. Creating music alongside such talented and dedicated friends and musicians, being able to share that music, and then seeing that the music has meaning and resonance for others who are new to it— that was a gift for sure.
The title of this post is the theme that we selected for the evening. That theme was woven through the study, the spiritual writing, and the worship. For lots of reasons, I’m very curious about and interested in The Human Voice. I’m interested in the human voice because, kind of like breathing, it’s something that we almost always take for granted. In preparing for last night, I wrote a vision of what the time together might address. Here’s that description for those that might be interested and also so I can look back on it and remember the thought process that led to such a special evening of community learning and spiritual connection.
Through a combination of shiur, spiritual journaling workshop, and Shabbat/Slichot Tefilah participants will have a chance to reflect on our human voice and their particular human voice. The human voice is our most precious and unique instrument for communication yet most of us fail to fully attend to and care for it. How do we cultivate our voice? How do we honor it? How do we project it into the spaces and places that we feel summoned to do so? How do we listen to our own voice, how do hear and experience the voices of others? In what areas do we suffer from an abundance of words? In what areas do we lack the necessary language to articulate our thoughts and feelings? In short—how can we become better listeners and speakers in a world that so desperately needs us to be both of these things. Before officially entering the Yamim Noraim it is both necessary and profoundly meaningful to reflect on the voice that we are bringing with us to this sacred time.