During the time of the first temple, the Levites were responsible for providing music during services. This represents the documented beginning of music in our tradition. Today, we weave music and song into all aspects of Judaism. We celebrate Shabbat and holidays with music and lyrics, twirl groggers on Purim, sing songs of sadness and solace at funerals, and many of our contemporary pop songs are based on themes and words of Torah.
We strive to grow menschen—good people who care about others, the world, social issues and those who are marginalized. From the time they remember, we share the stories of our people. The wonderful folktales passed down through the ages, the parables, midrashim and stories of our ancestors. We share the lessons and stories from the Torah, weaving together a rich fabric of identity, culture, tradition and ritual. These stories are full of music and rhythm, taking on the ebb and flow of our daily lives, adapting to each new generation and mode of communication—and yet, at their core, they remain the same.
As we light the Friday night candles and sing the brocha together or spin the dreidel humming “I have a little dreidel” or even hear the tune of Chag Purim in our head while eating a hamantaschen, we are adapting to the rhythm of our people. Taking time out for reflection on the weekend and slowing down acknowledges the time old message to rest on Shabbat. Igniting the lessons of our tradition in our younger generation allows our soul to dance to the beat of our tradition as we celebrate the future of Judaism. _
Sue Penn, the Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, is known for being an innovative and creative educator. Sue sits on the National Board of the Reconstructionist Educators of North America and believes in personalizing every child’s education since no two children are the same.