Oseh Shalom: The Week's End - February 2, 2024
Feb 2nd 2024

Last Shabbat, in celebration of Shabbat Shirah, we sang. All weekend, we sang. We sang Friday night at Kabbalat Shabbat with Cantor Sidney and the HarmonEzers. We also sang Friday night at dinner with Cantor Audrey joining as a special guest. We sang Shabbat morning, again, with Cantor Sidney and the HarmonEzers. And….Saturday evening, 160 of us joined together, in the chapel, to sing for a full 90 minutes.

This was our Shabbat Shirah song circle, created and celebrated in collaboration with our colleagues and neighbours from Holy Blossom. The set up was concentric circles, with the musical leadership sitting in a fairly tight inner circle, and all the rest of the circles radiating outwards. There were 100 electric candles set up all around the room and in the hallway leading towards it. We have fairly bright white lights in the chapel specifically so that people can see their siddurim. For this event, we turned off those lights, choosing just the simple ones from the chandelier above, and put the words on screens around the room, so that people could see them from wherever they were sitting. We had text in Hebrew (with nekudot) and transliteration. It was exciting to see this room set up and used this way.

Partway through the evening, we offered an Oseh Shalom medley. Cantor David Rosen and Cantorial Soloist Lindi Rivers from Holy Blossom opened the medley with a duet of an unfamiliar Debbie Friedman tune. It was a treat to just sit back and listen to their beautiful voices.

The second song began with the Ukelele strum and angelic voice of Beth Tzedec member Shira Bodnar playing the most familiar of Debbie Friedman’s Oseh Shalom melodies. Most people here haven’t heard Shira sing so it was an amazing surprise and gift for all present.

Next, Cantor Sidney took us into the Nurit Hirsh melody for Oseh Shalom. This is the one that is most commonly sung in Ashkenazi spaces, all the time, but often at the end of the Amidah or Kaddish.

Lastly, I brought in the up-tempo fun of the Oseh Shalom written by Yoel Sykes and Nava Tehilah from Israel. Having travelled through the colours and feelings of the medley to this point, when we arrived at the full-swing singing of the niggun part of the song, there was a joyous release, people standing and singing in full voice. Oseh Shalom Bimromav, may the one who makes peace on high, oseh shalom aleynu, make peace for us, v’al kol Yisrael, for all Israel – v’al kol yoshvei tevel - and for all beings who dwell on this earth.

Truly, may it be so.

I have included links below to three of the songs sung in the medley, as well as to the award-winning original melody that I wrote with Jaffa Road. As you prepare for Shabbat this week, why not pause to listen to these melodies, allowing the prayer to become a call to action for the Divine, the maker of peace, and for us - those created in the Divine image?

Shabbat Shalom,