Monday, June 25, 2007

Shabbat Mincha How-To

Musical Note
Cantor Sherwood Goffin

Nusach Guidelines for Mincha Shabbat

The general rule for Mincha all year around - even for Yomim Noroim - is that, until after Kedusha, the nusach is Weekdays. The one exception is Mincha for Shabbat. Ashrei and Uva L'Tzion and the first Kaddish are chanted in the "Shabbat mincha style", even though there is evidence that this was not the original West European minhag. Nevertheless, as Jews with an East European tradition, we do it that way.

After the Torah reading, one should switch back to Weekday style, even for the second Kaddish before the Amida. Unfortunately, most Baalei Tefilla feel uncomfortable doing that since the congregation will most probably "expect" the special "Mincha tune" there.

The Repetition of the Amida until after Kedusha is definitely in the "Weekday" mode, and only at Yimloch switches back to the Shabbat Mincha melody. Here, one alternative minhag arose- that of the Chassidim- who were afraid that they would not be able to return to the Mincha tune after Kedusha, and therefore they recited the mincha tune from the beginning of the Amida's repetition. One should avoid that, if possible, especially here at LSS.

Finally, the Kaddish after the Amida MUST be sung in the Weekday mode. To use the Mincha tune here is definitely incorrect according to all minhagim.

I hope this clarifies this issue. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me any time.

Daven well and sing along!

(c) 2007 Sherwood Goffin and Lincoln Square Synagogue

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Musical Note - Shelach

MUSICAL NOTE By Cantor Sherwood Goffin
Lulay Soros'cho

This powerful melody, which I will be singing today for Mimkomo and Hu Elokenu of the Shabbat Musaf, has a bit of LSS history in it. It was composed by our late neighbor Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (1925-1994), who revolutionized contemporary Jewish music by composing melodies that were generally simple, yet eminently singable. And most important to those of us who sing and listen to these melodies, they had a special quality that tugged at our heartstrings and reached into the very depths of our soul. The words for this niggun are: "Were the Torah not my delight, I would have perished in my affliction".

In March 1965, when I first came to LSS for my interview for the position of Chazzan, Rabbi Riskin surprisingly suggested that I bring along my guitar (?!!?). After I had sung a bit of Hin'ni from the High Holiday service, he announced to the committee that I would be singing some nigunim with my guitar to show another side of my abilities - an asset rare among chazzanim of that time, for sure! I remember singing "The Little Bird" and then, one of RR's favorite nigunim, "Lulay Soros'cho". Well, rather than offending the committee, my guitar playing actually seems to have impressed them enough so that I was eventually chosen as the first (and only!) Chazzan of this unique shul. This niggun, therefore, holds a special place in my heart. Besides its powerful melody, it was one of the factors that brought me here to serve with honor as your Sh'liach Tzibbur - your representative before the Al-mighty for the past forty two years, Ken Yirbu (May They Increase)!

Daven well and sing along!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Princeton Reunions

Back from my 20th Reunion at Good Old P.U.

My big conversation-starter line this year: "If you watch House for the establishing shots, you just might be a Princetonian."

A good time had, much beer and soda drunk, much exercise had walking from the tent to the kosher dining hall to the old eating club and back, several times a day.

Many connections reestablished and reconfirmed. Reunions, after the first few years of "look what a great job I have, what a great {business,law,medical} school I'm attending, etc.," becomes about creating and retaining connections with people. Shared experience gives a strong base for continuing friendships.

See my piece about the Fifteenth Reunion here.