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Shabbat Shirah / Tu Bishvat 

01/23/2024 04:56:17 PM


One of my covid hobbies was bird feeding.I actually started sometime before covid when I got a Nyjer seed sock that I hung on the frame of my sukkah. I was so excited to see the birds come and go and eventually I bought a bird feeder... then another and another. During covid I loved sitting at my kitchen window with binoculars and watch the birds. I had no idea what had been living outside my home - sparrows, doves, cardinals, woodpeckers, bright yellow finches. And, of course I never tire of watching the antics of the squirrels and deer who stopped at nothing to get to my feeders. I have finally figured out how to protect my feeders  from the squirrels and deer, but whenever I fill the feeder I scatter some peanuts for the squirrels.   I have never tired of watching them. When I was young, my mother also had us feed the birds - toss out some bread crumbs on shabbat shirah. It is a tradition to feed the birds on (or actually before) this Sabbath. There are many explanations, some stem from the "song at the sea" and other stem from the reading about God's gift of manna which is also read in this parshah. This is the explanation I like the best: 

Rabbi Eliyahu Ki Tov says that the birds receive their reward on Shabbat Shirah for the songs which they utter to God every day, and when we recite our Song, we remember their songs.

It is also a tradition to enhance the service with music on shabbat shirah. The Adath Shalom Adult Singers will be sharing some special settings of our shabbat morning prayers composed by Hazzan Charles Davidson. Hazzan Davidson was one of the first graduates of The Jewish Theological Seminary's Cantors Institute (now the H.L. Miller School). He joined the faculty in 1977 and was a beloved teacher and mentor to the many Conservative Cantors who studied with him (myself included).  He served with distinction as hazzan of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, from 1966 to 2004. Charles Davidson was one of the most frequently commissioned composers by synagogues, cantors, and Jewish organizations, as well as by general secular choruses across America.Davidson’s monumental, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a setting of children’s poetry from the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia (where only 100 of the 15,000 imprisoned children survived), is unquestionably his best known and most celebrated work. 

Hazzan Davidson passed away in November this past year. The pieces that we will sing this shabbat will feature his congregational melodies which adhere to nusach (traditional synagogue musical modes), his love for hassidic music and congregational singing. 

Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784