Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Sunday, 16 December 2007

And the girl dancing by the pole is there to help you concentrate

Somewhere along the line, lots of Jews forgot the purpose of davening. The purpose of davening is not to have fun, feel alive or get a spiritual kick. The purpose of davening is to personally connect to God, share your innermost feelings with Him, address Him with fitting praises, and request your needs of the King of the Universe. With the proliferation of learning minyans, new age minyans, and outreach minyans, the idea that davening is a social activity that needs to interest participants seems to have replaced this simple idea. Hence, this article about the new "minyan" at the JTS which incorporates muscial instruments and contemporary tunes.

Now I will admit that I am guilty at times of using contemporary tunes when leading services. Shalom Chanoch's songs have been a big inspiration for me during Shabbos davening and I can make "A Horse with No Name" by America fit the Shabbos Shacharis Kedushah. However, I would maintain there is a great difference between the occasional use of a contemporary tune and making those tunes, along with inappropriate muscial accompaniment, the focus of the prayer service. What's more, one must be very careful before tampering with the format of the prayers which help Jews from all over the world find common ground together. Thus this mystifiying piece from the article:

There are some staples, such as the recitation of Shema during the morning prayer session. But Shema might involve the prelude of a song called "Waves" that Yoni learned at a Rainbow Gathering in Israel or a rendition of Bob Marley's "One Love." From Marley the music may range from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to the Grateful Dead, to gospel.

I never felt guilty about doing Adon Olam to the theme from Star Wars but I wonder if the JTS will now bring in the Boston Pops to get it right for their "service".

1 comment:

Davey Rosen said...

Thank you for taking the time to think about our minyan. I think it is important to note that the music is not the focus of the service; the music facilitates the davening. In no way do we claim that Jamdavening is superior to traditional forms of davening. It is another way to connect; a means for bringing community together in communication with the Eternal.
Keep on rockin in the free world,
Davey Rosen
Student
Davidson School at JTS