I admit I was skeptical – I had initially heard Cantor Helzner propose her “alternative” Shacharit service, to be accompanied by a percussionist, several months ago, and I wasn’t an enthusiastic supporter. Don’t get me wrong – I love to sing, and I love Cantor Helzner’s willingness to introduce and challenge the congregation with new melodies and songs. But I wasn’t sure what to think about drumming on Shabbat morning.
I walked into the service with our 4-year old, who was protesting the change in routine, so we moved up to the second row, right in front of the drummer, Jason Walker, who was so fun to watch, and showed such close attention to the service, and communication with our cantor, Rochelle Helzner. Cantor Helzner was joined vocally by her sister, Cantor Robyn Helzner, which was an added treat.
But the most moving part of the experience was the involvement of our congregants – the singing was joyful, and harmonies bloomed and wove together throughout the morning. The drumming was subtle, but, as I find always to be the case, there is something about a drumbeat that taps into the deepest spiritual chords of our being – so, yes, this was a richer Shacharit service, thanks to the drumming.
I’m looking forward to the future dates of this joyful service, and I plan to attend. Future dates are April 28 and May 12. Come and join the celebration!