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Expanding our Reach: The Songs of Social Justice and Tikkun Olam at NFTY

Aldous Huxley taught, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” The most significant moments of our lives have a soundtrack; they have a musical framework that our families, our people, and our society build. During the civil rights movement in America, African American spirituals like Oh Freedom and We Shall Overcome inspired, led, and exclaimed the charge of our fellow citizens looking for justice, for equality.

A Call to Social Justice

ACC/GTM Convention
Monday Morning D’var Torah
Monday, June 26, 2017

Boker Tov!

As Rabbi Wendy Geffen put it: When it comes to high drama, it’s hard to beat the portion we read this past Shabbat morning, Parashat Korach. When Moses’s first cousin, Korach, challenges the leader’s authority, Moses retorts by suggesting a “spirituality duel” of sorts, charging Korach and his band to return the next morning so each party can present offerings to God.

Taking a Seat at the Table: The ACC Deepens Its Commitment to Social Justice

As we write this article, only a few hours have passed since the conclusion of the Consultation on Conscience followed by the URJ Commission on Social Action meeting. For three days, we joined together with 800 Jews in Arlington, VA, and then Washington DC, to learn, pray, lobby, and most of all dream about the type of world that our Jewish values demand that we create. 

We are inspired after having heard remarkable political and moral leaders speak of the pressing issues of our times. 

We are energized.  We are hopeful.  And as an entire conference, we are ready to work. 

Parshat Va'eira For the Cantors of 2017

What a week to be gathering together here.  Many of us have spent the last few months in fear and anxiety – checking our news feeds every few minutes looking both to confirm our fears and somehow find hope that something incredible might still happen to save us from… well, everything.

It is completely overwhelming and can even be debilitating.

I know that I have lost hours of productive work time because moving my focus away from all of “it” can prove to be impossible.

Shana Tova U'Metuka!

In the midst of all of the preparations for the High Holiday season, I am always grateful that I chose to become a cantor so many years ago. What an important role we all play on behalf of our People and the larger community. We are extremely blessed.

At the American Conference of Cantors, we are also gearing up for an exciting new year, chock full of support for our members, new programming opportunities and exciting communications initiatives.

Remembering Elie Wiesel Through His Love of Music

As we remember Elie Wiesel – memorializing one of our century’s greatest Jewish thinkers and humanitarians whom President Obama called “the conscience of the world” – we pay tribute to one of the most prominent Holocaust survivors whose message of “never forget” goes beyond the Jewish community alone.

Instead, this Nobel Peace laureate who mingled with dignitaries, world and religious leaders and the rest of us, tirelessly reminded us of our moral obligation to fight bigotry, oppression and inhumanity in any form.

My First High Holy Days as an Ordained Cantor

In my cantorate (young that it is, as I am just in my third month of my first job), I am committed to giving my congregation an eclectic mix of congregational favorites right alongside the latest and greatest works being composed by the hottest Jewish composers out there.  Music which features the prayers in our liturgy infused with English poetic texts speaks to me, and I find it easy to pray with them and to communicate this kind of prayer to my congregation. One of my favorite composers of this style is Cantor Jonathan Comisar.

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