Sunday, December 18, 2022/24 Kislev 5783
To my Friends at Shabbat with Friends,
I am on my way to New York City to celebrate Hanukkah with the Rising Song Institutes’ Singing Intensive organized by Joey Weisenberg. Many of you heard Joey during his visit to New Mexico in August. As you witnessed, Joey is a charismatic and multi-talented musician. More important he is a revered teacher and mentor for musicians, people who love to sing, and anyone with an appreciation of Jewish music. I discovered Joey almost seven years ago and attended my first Singing Intensive which he holds in NYC every year. Experiencing the Intensive changed my life. Singing four days with 150 fully engaged people from all corners of Jewish life is quite amazing and incomparable.
Joey’s gathering attracts folks from across the States and in Jewish communities all over the world. Because of the respect that other gifted Jewish musicians have for him, he can bring together outstanding artists to teach and share their music over four days of workshops on Jewish song, Niggun, and music from Sephardic, Oriental, Israeli, and American masters.
I try to go every year for inspiration, renewal, and new songs that I share with all of you, my community. I have never been disappointed. This year will be special for it is the first time over the six times I have attended that the four days fall over Hanukkah. Hanukkah is an unusual minor festival since we sing the Hallel in weekday morning services (Thanksgiving psalms 113-118), usually a cherished liturgy of the major festivals. The Hallel is a repository of Jewish musical creativity over the generations. I am looking forward to adding to my knowledge of the beautiful music of the Hallel. Pesah is the festival most deeply connected to the Hallel, so what I sing and learn next week I will bring back to New Mexico to enhance your Sedarim and celebrations of that great and beautiful “Hag”.
Even if you can’t go to the Intensive, you can enjoy its fruits by checking out these online resources which the Rising Song Institute makes accessible online. Check out Joey’s online master classes HERE. Or listen to the music of talented artists that Joey highlights at the Intensive, HERE. If you want a special treat, listen to his Joey’s band, the Hadar Ensemble which has inspired our own Oneg Shabbos Ensemble. Learn more HERE.
In whatever way you celebrate, may you have an illuminating, hopeful, and inspirational Hanukkah.
Hag Urim Same’ach, May you have a joyful festival of lights,
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Rabbi Dov is the founder of Shabbat with Friends NM. He became a rabbi at 29 after schooling at UC Berkely, Harvard, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has maintained a blog for over twenty years, giving commentary on a wide range of themes, concerns, and passions.