Kadima/Kedem – Looking Forward and Looking Back
Cantor Juval Porat
“Kadima” is a word Rabbi Alyson, Rabbi Jonathan and I have been toying with, while trying to come up with a theme to describe the congregational year ahead. Translated as “forward,” the word kadima also contains within itself the root letters kuf, dalet and mem, spelling “kedem,” translated as “before” or “ago.” And so, the coming year might be experienced by looking ahead, courageously moving forward (kadima) in exploration of what could be, while also holding hands with history (kedem) and its lessons.
Glancing back, it’s been only a couple of weeks ago since Rabbi Lisa and I led our last Friday night service together. The blessing I offered to Tracy and Lisa at this service, right before sharing Naomi Less’s setting of the liturgy from the Hashkiveinu Prayer – still ring true to me and I hope to carry its content in this year ahead:
יהושע בן פרחיה אומר עשה לך רב וקנה לך חבר והוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות.
“Yehoshua ben Perachyah said: Make for yourself a teacher; acquire for yourself a friend; and judge every person on the positive side.” (Avot 1:6)
To paraphrase Yehoshua ben Perachyah: Make yourself a rabbi and a lezbtzn, acquire for yourself two profound friendships, be co-clergy with the rabbi for about a decade and pay close attention to the imprint both leave on your heart – to see the beauty, hope, comfort, excitement, compassion and positive sides that reside within each person.
I’ve learned so much, I’ve felt seen and heard by you so much – you’ve modeled for me the artful balance of strength and humility, the silent and not so silent ways to inform one’s goals and values in this world. While I aspire to bring people closer to God through music, you bring people closer to God through your teachings, humanity, acts of kindness and passion. I’m forever grateful to you and I love you.
We’ve said it many times, and in case you needed a reminder, Rabbi Lisa and Lezbtzn Tracy are not disappearing, they’re going out to begin a new chapter and will return back as clergy and clergy adjacent emerita, but it is this change of status that I think makes us all take stock of all the ways you’ve touched us and impacted our lives for the better. The liturgy of Hashkiveinu expresses the hope for their protection as they go out, as well as their safe return. It asks for abundant life and peace wherever one may find oneself and it conjures up the often-used image of a canopy of peace spread over the one that travels.
With your permission, I’d like to dedicate this prayer to you, Lisa and Tracy, and if you so desire, imagine our voices as the fabric woven into a canopy of peace to guide you and protect you as you go out and as you return.”
Naomi Less’ setting for the Hashkiveinu Prayer was introduced to me at the annual ACC (American Conference of Cantors) – GTM (Guild of Temple Musicians) convention, which took place in Atlanta this year. Thank you for being open to the new melodies I am so excited to share with you every time I return from conventions. There are many more where they came from and yet this year especially, at a time of great change and excitement, but also anxiety and uncertainty, I’m given the opportunity once more to balance out the new and the familiar.
Speaking of new melodies, it is thanks to Davi Cheng, who shared a document of words to describe Lisa and Tracy written by members of the congregation in honor of Lisa and Tracy’s 10th anniversary at BCC, that I was able to write “For The Better” – a song to honor all for which Lisa and Tracy stand. The accompanying video was beautifully edited by Pam Postrel and in case you didn’t attend the very successful (enormous thanks to all who contributed to its success) Visions Awards brunch this year and would like to check out the video, you can do so, by clicking this link.
And now, looking ahead – I’m excited and grateful and humbled, and admittedly a little nervous too, to step into this new era in BCC’s life with Rabbi Alyson as my clergy partner. I’ve been already blessed to be on the receiving end of her warmth, insight, wisdom, gentleness and sensitivity and I think we both look forward to exploring making new out of the old, revisiting the old and making new out of that which hasn’t been tried before. We’ve been brainstorming on ways to observe Tish’a B’Av, S’lichot, a break-the-fast and more, and we’re looking forward to sharing all of it with you in community as the months unfold.
We are working on getting the full High Holiday schedule up as soon as possible and I invite you to check BCC’s website and social media frequently for updates.
For now, please mark your calendar for our weekly High Holiday preparation classes starting September 3rd (the first week of the month of Elul) at 7:15 pm at BCC and going on for four weeks. My course will be on Tuesday, September 10, 7:15-9:00 pm at BCC, entitled “Et Ratzon – A time of Divine Favor,
Finding propitiousness in Jewish tradition.” Stay tuned for the subjects and facilitators of other classes.
Choir rehearsal is beginning as well. If you’re curious about the choir, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. For full rehearsal schedule please check out (please link towards a post on the website with the choir rehearsal dates).
As always, I look forward to being in community with you all and look forward to deepening my relationship with you in prayer, celebration, music, contemplation and meeting. May we go from strength to strength.
This article was taken from G’vanim Issue 47 vol 6, July/August 2019 Check out the full issue