At Or Zarua, our prayer services and Torah reading are led by a variety of
congregants across a spectrum of musical abilities. Sufficient motivation,
desire and competence to help conduct our lay-led services, rather than any
specific level of musical talent, are the criteria of our service leadership.
Nevertheless, we are continuously striving to enhance the musicality and
spirituality of our already wonderful participatory services. We aspire to
cultivate as many capable service leaders as possible, but also to inspire their
fellow congregants to experience the religious and aesthetic satisfaction that
attends musically pleasing tefilah (prayer).
Toward the ends of ever greater ruah (spirit) and kavvanah (focus) in our
tefilah, we have endeavored to imbue our prayer services with increasing musical
richness and diversity, by employing a broad range of liturgical melodies and
styles. Over the past several years, Joey Weisenberg -- Or Zarua's 2010-11
musician-in-residence -- has led a series of singing modules dedicated to
particular components of the Shabbat and holiday liturgy, including the Kabbalat
Shabbat, Musaf and Hallel services. Through our music sessions, Joey has taught
us both old and new nigunim that have been incorporated into our prayer
services. Those spirited melodies have enriched and enlivened our tefilah from
week to week, and are now emblems of our heightened ruah. For those congregants
who prefer the polish of a trained voice, we have enjoyed the beautiful singing
of our cantorial intern, Jonathan Angress, who this year has led services on a
Beyond tefilah, enthusiastic singing has been a hallmark of our communal
Shabbat meals, when zemirot bring together the voices of adults and children.
Or Zarua's own homegrown klezmer band similarly lends liveliness and joy to
various communal events. We also have sought to bring cutting-edge Jewish music
into our midst through periodic concerts in our acoustically favored sanctuary,
including recent events featuring Chaim Dovid's rousing neo-Carlebach tunes,
Weisenberg's meditative and variegated nigunim, and Angress's medieval-style
The enjoyment of music and singing at Or Zarua is recurring and pervasive --
please join us as we "sing a new song to the Lord" throughout the year.