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or Shalom is thriving!

11/10/2022 09:36:58 AM


Rabbi Chaya Gusfield

When I started working with Or Shalom in October, I was impressed by so much of this community’s resiliency, warmth, and commitment. In a short period of time, I have met many of you and heard your hopes and dreams, your grief, and your visions for how the Or Shalom community will be energized in our new building. I need to say, I feel we are thriving now. The building is just icing on the challah! (Is that a thing?)

Over the next few months, I will reflect back to you the various ways I feel we are thriving. But this month, I want to focus on one of our best-kept secrets: the Ensemble. Do you all recognize how fortunate we are to have this incredible music ensemble? I have worked with musicians (instrumentalists and singers) with various titles in the past. Cantors, choirs, cantorial soloists, Musical Prayer Leaders, a chazzanut group, drummers, guitarists, and pianists. Some were good, some great, but it was always a collaboration between the rabbi’s and musicians’ visions. And there were lots of rehearsals. I grew accustomed to either working a cappella or working with one singer/guitarist at a time with lots of practice sessions.

I have never worked with professionals like our ensemble. Guitar, cello, bass, percussion, clarinet, voice. The sound they create is life-giving, uplifting, surreal, fun, and prayerful. They understand that although I can sing, I don’t always start on the same key or know where to find the key they give me. They have been forgiving and very supportive, helping to develop a system that works so all of us will not just shine, but serve the community well. We all want the same thing: to guide our community in prayer. But they do it with such grace.

I can’t tell you how lucky I am to work with such great people and my only prayer and hope is that they feel as held by the rest of us as they hold and guide us every night they join.

We are meeting in person for services at least twice a month. Whenever we do, some part of the ensemble blesses us with their gifts. Please come and join us. You won’t be sorry you did.

Please feel free to contact me at I work half-time, but will be happy to get back to you as soon as I can. I want to get to know as many members and families as I can.

Artwork by Rabbi Chaya Gusfield

Wed, February 8 2023 17 Shevat 5783