Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Gift

While I love many of the professors that I have had this year, there are a few that I have really enjoyed learning from. On Thursday at the beginning of my Late Antiquity History and Rabbinic Literature lecture, our teacher started talking about services that morning and talked about certain prayers. He brought a copy of Nishmat Kol Chai from Siddur Sim Shalom and talked about the beautiful poem that precedes it in Sim Shalom.

I'm on a mission to write my own melody for it, the poem is incredible.

Then he told us that he had one more gift to share with us. After a few seconds to compose himself he started singing a niggun. Slow, quiet, mournful and beautiful. It took more than 5 minutes to sing through the entire prayer, and it was one of the best moments of the entire school year.

Some of my classmates made recordings of him singing, and my goal is to try to learn this melody and find a way to use it in services. The words in Sim Shalom are slightly different than we have in the Reform Movement's Mishkan T'fillah, so it is going to take a little work to make sure the melody still fits with the words we have, but it is worth the work. It was one of the most incredible things I've heard.

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