When I look back on the past week, two sounds resonate in my head. The first, of course, was the final shofar blast at the end of Yom Kippur (more on that in a moment). The other was the sound of tefillah in the Middle School this past Friday.

Now, normally tefillah is filled with sounds. After all, we do a significant amount of our davening out loud. This particular Friday morning was different. New melodies were introduced and the level of our ruach was enhanced by our two guests who are up-and-coming musicians and educators from the Conservative Movement. Josh Warshawsky and Daniel Novick are products of the Conservative Movement in Chicago and Northern Virginia, both serving as international officers in United Synagogue Youth in 2008. Josh is a senior at the Joint Program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, an alum of the Nativ program in Israel, and during the summers  is the Rosh Musikah at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. Daniel is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and was the co-creator of “Shaharit Live!,” an unique tefillah experience for USY combining music and multimedia that has been utilized in Conservative Movement institutions around the country. Last Friday, was the first of the monthly visits that Josh and Daniel will be making to lead the Middle School in tefillah once a month and spend some time with students in our Upper School.

Daniel and Josh were a hit with the Middle School. Students were singing (some even dancing) as we davened our way through Shaharit. It was truly an inspirational experience and one that we hope will add to all of our future tefillot together. For taste of the sound created, click here.

The final shofar blast on Yom Kippur took on more meaning for me this year, perhaps because of the way my thoughts were primed for the holiday through the high school’s Yom Kippur workshops. After first period tefillah, the high school students broke into smaller groups to focus on one of many topics to help engage more fully in Yom Kippur. The topics ran the gambit from the practical, A Yom Kippur Survival Guide, to the more weighty, Would You Forgive a Nazi?. In each session, students explored, debated, and questioned the practices and themes of Yom Kippur. Kol HaKavod to Rabbi Josh and the faculty for organizing this experience.

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