Songs for the soul Nov. 15-16
Music to the core of the soul, music from the core of our community’s souls will be heard and felt when Congregation Anshai Torah welcomes Joey Weisenberg as its Artist-in-Residence the weekend of Nov. 15.
Weisenberg will lead pre-Shabbat singing beginning at 6:15 p.m. Friday night, followed by Kabbalat Shabbat services at 6:30 and a Shabbat dinner with singing and learning at 7:30. On Saturday, the music will continue to flow as Weisenberg participates in Shabbat morning services and during the Kiddush lunch.
“Joey is one of the leaders using music and niggunim [wordless melodies] to enhance our spiritual connection to tefillah,” said Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Michael Kushnick. “His work helps communities to transform themselves. Regardless of whether someone knows the words, or their meaning, or not — whether you read Hebrew or not — I assure you the joy of participating in spiritually moving services.”
Weisenberg is the founder and co-director of the Rising Song Institute and is the author of “Building Singing Communities” and “The Torah of Music,” winner of a 2017 National Jewish Book Award. A singer and composer who plays the guitar, mandolin, bass, drums and more he has taught and led prayer at the Hadar Institute for more than a decade. Weisenberg has performed and recorded internationally with dozens of bands, in a wide variety of musical styles, composing new niggunim that have moved and inspired Jews around the world. His seventh album with the Hadar Ensemble, “Songs of Ascent,” was recently released.
Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Rising Song Institute is affiliated with the Hadar Institute, whose mission is to empower Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah, avodah (work), and chesed (charity). A perfect match, the Rising Song Institute cultivates Jewish spiritual life by engaging people around the world through communal singing, immersive study, and experimental music-making.
“I’ve come to love and cherish the sound of people singing together, the sound of voices trained and untrained,” said Weisenberg. “My great-grandmother, Sadie Hawtof Ettenheim, was from Waco and I’m coming to Texas loaded with stories of family. I invite everyone to join us with open hearts that are ready to sing. Every voice counts and the voice of each neshamah, each soul, will rise.”
A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one of the four children of Nancy Ettenheim and Bob Weisenberg, he was most influenced by his grandfather, Milton Ettenheim. “My grandfather belonged to all nine synagogues in Milwaukee — from Reform to Chassidish — and he taught me that there is something to love and respect from everyone,” Joey Weisenberg said.
A family man, he has been married for 15 years to Molly Weingrod. The father of four found his love of music early on. Raised at Congregation Beth Israel, it was Cantor Carey Cohen and later Rabbi Michel Twerski who stirred Weisenberg’s own soul, embedding in him what it means to bring Torah and music together.
“Joey’s visit is going to elevate our neshamas, our souls, as we come to pray, to learn and to grow together,” said Rabbi Kushnick. “It’s going to be a very special weekend.”
RSVPs for Friday night can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 972-473-7718. Adults are $20/CAT members, $25/non-members and $10 for children ages 4 to 10 with a household maximum of $54.
— Submitted by