Erev Shabbat Message from Rabbi Feldman

Posted by The Jewish Center on 04/20/2018

Dear Friends,
I have said many times that singing is much more emotional than speaking - music can touch the heart much more deeply than the spoken word. That is one of the reasons many of us enjoy attending concerts and song festivals; the powerful music and the experience of singing with others touches us in a profound way. I am convinced that is part of the reasons our ancient Rabbis created our prayer service to include singing - singing our prayers together, chanting the Torah and Haftorah to musical notes - to enhance the experience. One of the first times in my life that I truly experienced this was the summers I spent at Jewish camp, when Shabbat dinner was followed by communal singing, when communal singing was an almost daily activity. There was nothing else in my life like the experience of being together with close to 600 friends at Shabbat dinner, filling the dining hall with our singing and connecting to one another and to the music.
I love to sing yet I am not talented enough to play any musical instruments. I have tried many and even took lessons on a few different instruments but it did not go so well. So now I just sing along as I listen to others play. And as I do, I like to focus on the words to the songs, especially Hebrew songs that require me to translate or contemplate their deeper message in English. I remember learning Hebrew in Ulpan at Hebrew University when our teacher often brought in songs, when we would study the words first and the follow along as she played the song for us in class.
Today I want to do a similar thing with you as we look at the words to a popular Israeli song and listen to a very special presentation of the song in honor of Yom HaAtzmaut - Israel's 70 Birthday this week. The song is Al Kol Eleh, written by Nomi Shemer in the late 1970's and here are the words in English:

AL KOL ELEH - Over all these things
Over the honey and the stinger - over the bitter and the sweet
And over our baby girl please protect her
Over the burning fire - over the crystal-clear water
And over the man who is coming home from afar
Over all these things, over all these things
Please stand guard for me my good God
Over the honey and the stinger - over the bitter and the sweet
Don't uproot a sapling - don't forget the hope
May you return me, and may I return to this wonderful land
Save the houses that we live in - the small fences and the wall
From the sudden war-like thunder - may you save them all.
Guard what little I've been given - guard the hill my child might climb
Let the fruit that's yet to ripen - not be plucked before its time.
Over all these things . . . . .
As the wind makes rustling night sounds and a star falls from afar
And in the darkness I wish upon that star
Guard for me, oh Lord, these treasures, all my friends keep safe and strong,
Guard the stillness, guard the weeping, and above all, guard this song.
Over all these things . . . .
To me, this is a song that helps me feel an emotional connection to Israel. The song is about different aspects of Israeli life and how we should be grateful for all of them. In honor of the 70th, a group organized a special recording of this song that brought together 12,000 people to sing the song, representing different aspects of Israeli society, including President Rivlin who you will see at the beginning of the video turning on the lights.
Here is the video of that special recording:
In honor of Israel's 70th Birthday, we have many programs scheduled in the coming weeks. One of them, Israel Story is our live, musical headliner event for TJC Celebrates Israel 70 Faces. The performers from Israel Story, a bi-weekly podcast,  are presenting a live program called Mixtape - that will feature the great music of Israel's first 70 years and the impact its music has on Israel and Jews all over the world. Join us for this uplifting and live musical performance next Saturday night, April 28th at 8:30 PM held at Princeton University McCosh 10.
For more information about the performance and to purchase tickets, click on the links.
Shabbat Shalom - may your weekend and upcoming days be filled with music.
Rabbi Adam Feldman