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“The Angels Are Singing More Love” – Shabbat AM, even in hard times

The text from Naomi said “check the news.” Instantly my heart drops to my stomach – that’s never a good sign. My mind starts racing, spinning all different kinds of horror stories, but even still I was completely unprepared for what awaited me. 130 innocent lives murdered on the streets of Paris, out for a fun Friday night just like the one I had planned. My heart, already raw from the 224 brought down on the Russian airplane and the 43 bombed in Beirut, snapped. I went through the motions of my Friday night plans but was never truly present – shaken, distant, down and confused, I felt a kind of deep heavy sadness wrapped around me that was new and unfamiliar.

I wondered, selfishly, whether anyone would want to come to Shabbat AM the next morning, our first of the season. Even I felt reluctant – Shabbat AM is joyous and fun, buzzing with the energy of excited kids running around and making art, home baked treats, coffee, and singing. That’s just not how I felt. I worried about being inauthentic and betraying my sorrow.

©jenniferleephotography-20151114_labshulshabbat-042But I came, as did so many others both new and familiar. And as Naomi softly began worship with a classic Quaker Hymn, something inside me started to shift.

More love, more love
The heavens are calling
The angels are singing
O Zion, more love, more love

Such simple words, so hard to envision, so necessary to do – now more than ever.

One by one the room began to sing. Each new voice was one more small crack in the bitter callous that had formed around me last night. Each new voice told me that I didn’t have to abandon my sadness, fear, anger, and powerlessness at the door, but rather bring them with me, singing not in spite of them but because of them.

Truly, there is a deep and mysterious power in music. On Saturday, in the face of all the hate that people are trying to create in this world, I really do believe that we tipped back the scale with a little bit more love. I am not “better,” by any means. I’ve had to fight back tears the entire time writing this. But all this week after obsessively checking my New York Times app for the 10th time that day, I just hum to myself, “more love, more love, more love…” Hopefully, someone or something out there is listening.

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Big thanks to Michael Dorf at City Winery for hosting us, Naomi Less our ritual leader, and our amazing ritual musicians Daniel Ori, Katie Down, and Shoshana Jedwab, and our Mavens Naamah Imir Harris and Shoshana Jedwab. And thanks, as always, to Lab/Shul-er Jennifer Lee for the beautiful photos. More coming soon! You can check out her work here: JenniferLeePhotography.com

With love,
Ezra Bookman
Program Associate