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Music at TBT

11/02/2022 02:27:45 PM


Josh Niehaus

In my short time as TBT's Music Director, it has become abundantly clear that music is an integral part of the culture here. One of the first things a person sees as they enter the building is a larger-than-life painting of Rabbi Emeritus Jim Mirel holding his stand-up bass. And if you attended our Simchat Torah event last month, you heard Rabbi Mirel "slap the bass" and rock the social hall with his klezmer ensemble. 

Of course, you can't speak about music at TBT without acknowledging the massive impact that Cantor Emeritus David Serkin-Poole has had on this community. We are so lucky to have Cantor David regularly join us on the bima to elevate our spiritual practices. I feel so fortunate that both emeriti are still actively involved, and I am honored to carry on their legacy as the current temple musician and service leader. 

One of the new initiatives we launched since I started is the Davening Team. The Davening Team is an ever-growing band of musicians who lead services on the second Friday of every month, replete with strings, drums, woodwinds, rich vocal harmonies, and, of course, a bass. They have been instrumental in teaching new melodies to congregants. It has been an absolute joy to play and worship with the Davening Team. 

I have also been working on recording some of the new melodies we sing so that congregants can hear them before attending services. I am excited to share a new recording with you now, entitled Olam Chesed Yibaneh (A World of Love), written by Rabbi Menachem Creditor. The words to the song are simple yet powerful;

Olam Chesed Yibaneh

I will build this world from love

And you must build this world from love

And if we build this world from love

Then God will build this world from love

Rabbi Creditor wrote the song in a time of incredible highs and lows. He and his pregnant wife were living in New York City during 9/11, and a month later, she gave birth to a baby girl. It was a time of collective fear and anger, as well as a time of personal joy and love. He wanted to write a song for his daughter's birth but struggled to find the message and melody. "During an early-autumn stroll down Broadway, the smell and debris of the collapsed towers still somewhat fresh, and his daughter cradled in his arms, the song swelled up inside of him," said Creditor."

The song has become Rabbi Creditor's most famous work. It's filled with equal parts pain and optimism over the world we are striving to build. I have been feeling especially connected to the words of this song/poem/prayer since the birth of my child, Jaylan, six months ago. He is a big ball of love. He greets everyone with a smile and loves hugs and cuddles. He is never skeptical or cynical. He is a world of love. 

So I wanted to record a version of the song that I could share, and I got my wife, Karli, to agree to record it with me! I can't think of a better person to sing these words with than my partner in creation. Please enjoy Olam Chesed Yibaneh by Karli and Josh Niehaus. Listen Here

Fri, December 1 2023 18 Kislev 5784