In holidays, music, videos


From Cantor Benjamin Maissner.

Dear Friends,

Just as we bid farewell to the last hot days of summer, the intense and sacred season of High Holy Days is upon us.

Soon the buzz of renewal, hopes and aspirations for a better future occupy our minds. This season is about reflection inwardly into our own selves trying to figure out what and how we did in the year that passed. We try to make sense of the past for ourselves in order to accomplish and build a better future. We ask for health and happiness for our loved ones and for ourselves.

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But equally intense is our communal reflection during these Days of Awe, “Yamim Noraim”. Here we gather on mass as a congregation, coming together in prayer, being together feeling the sacred moments of T’filah, yearning for a better and stronger future for our immediate community and our people wherever they are. Our communal feelings rise and galvanize with the haunting sounds of the shofar as young and old anticipate its blast to reach into the high heavens pleading on our behalf. Watching the young children’s eyes and ears perk as the shofar blast cuts through the thin atmosphere bursting into song Areshet Sefateinu, “May the uttering of our lips find favor before you” lifts our hearts even if we don’t understand each word of our endless rich liturgy.

To that end my friends, you all know that it is the music and the haunting melodies which help us lift our spirits. For centuries, in fact since the middle ages, as early as the eleventh through the fourteenth century these melodies have been cherished by our people as they were codified and made sacred all through our history. These melodies are our closest friends as they reoccur year after year, season after season. These melodies sooth our souls and make our task for inner reflection and prayer that much easier. I have had the privilege to record many of these melodies on CDs which are all available at the Judaica Shop of our Temple.

“Days of Awe” and “Rosh Hashanah” are two CDs that represent the music of our High Holy Days. For over more than three decades now, I have been privileged to witness the growth, comfort level and maturity of our congregation, namely “you”, my congregants, with our heritage and musical tradition.

You simply have no idea nor can I express it in simple words what a thrill it is for me, your “Shalich Tzibur”, your Hazzan, to experience the vibes and radiance of a thousand voices in harmony and in unison singing and praying. To me and many others our High Holy Day services have become a religious drama of the highest order. With the help of our musical forces, namely our choirs, Temple Singers, Nadia Adler and David Warrack, our accompanists, the High Holy Days are like a healing potion.

As we look ahead with hopes for renewal and healing and hopes to moving forward in spiritual and physical health, let me assure you, that I together with my esteemed colleagues will do our utmost to ease that task. When we sing together our beloved “Shehecheyanu”, our thanks to the almighty for sustaining us up to this moment, it is my hope that we feel once again a strong bond of a healthy community and the glory of the ethos of Holy Blossom Temple.

It is with warmest blessings that my wife, Hope, and I wish you all a healthy and happy L’Shanah Tova.


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