Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Guest Post: Kosher Gospel
While I was watching gospel videos the other day, I could not help but to be struck by the verve, vitality and vigor with which the singers and their parishioners encouraged one another one to reach crescendos of spirituality. Their outpouring of emotionality was stirring even from the barrier of my computer screen.
Was it the awesome voices, the rousing choir, the energized music or all of them combined? Or was it the experience of coming together for the sole purpose of prayer, without a predetermined text or a G-d given mandate to attend?
Whatever the cause, the collective result of a congregation engaged in their mission of praising the L-rd and electrifying one another was, as an observer an honest and pure experience.
Is that what it was like for us with the Leviim and Pirchei Kehuna? Was that akin to the atmosphere that we sing about in Mareh Kohen on Yom Kippur? The question of where did we lose it or why did we lose it interests me less, but more of why have we not brought some of it back. I do not see an openly emotional prayer session being dependant on bringing sacrifices or being housed on har habyit. Is our yearning for uplifting prayer experiences why we have seen a proliferation of Carlebach minyanim around the modern Orthodox world?
My purpose at this time is not to propose alternatives, though I have some up my sleeve, but rather to present the thought that within the realm of our daily or Shabbat minyanim, there is a way to rise above the monotony of the experience that plagues most of our kehillat and to activate a more meaningful, uplifting, non kitschy service that will have us leaving our shuls inspired, uplifted and fulfilled. Why have we not pursued it?
Avi Silverman holds a BA from Yeshiva University in Psychology and Speech and Drama, an MS from The City College of New York in School Psychology and has Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshiva University. In his professional career, Avi has worked as an Upper School administrator and Retreat Center Director in America, and at Bar Ilan University and various elementary and high schools in Israel. Currently, Avi is the Advisor for Education and Communities at Nefesh B'Nefesh and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh with his wife and six children.