At TBZ, we enliven our Jewish spiritual life with song. We sing with passion and confidence, savoring the meaning and the spiritual grammar of the words. When entering our sanctuary during services, you’ll be among people enthusiastically singing out loud in Hebrew with ease and with comfort — and yet most of us are not Hebrew speakers! Our T’filot (prayers) and Shirim (songs with words) are sung in Hebrew, although at times we alternate between Hebrew and English. At TBZ, our prayers and singing are infused with Kavanah (intention), and one need not understand all the Hebrew words in a prayer or song to have a deep and transformative experience. If we can not or do not wish to read the words in the prayer book, we are encouraged to read the words on our heart. As a means of deepening our prayer and our learning experience, we are encouraged to study Hebrew.
At TBZ, we believe, like the founders of Hasidism, that through singing Niggunim (wordless melodies) we can lift our soul to higher dimensions of spiritual experience. Yet the role of praying and singing with words is important. Each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a mystical meaning and is part of the structure of the universe. Our Kabbalist sages teach us that when we pray, we offer words and letters to G!d which are then reshuffled to harmonize and resonate with the cosmic structure of the universe. This is part of the process of Tikkun Olam (the repair of the world).
At TBZ, singing with words is also important as a link to our ancestral liturgy. Our prayer book is a vast depository replete with sacred text and liturgical poems from over two thousand years of Jewish history. The prayer book, developed during the rabbinic period in the early centuries of the Common Era, has been expanded through the ages to express the praise, longing, pleading, gratitude, love and beliefs of all the generations from which we are descended. Whether or not we know our history, when we sing the words in our prayer books, we are connecting to our past and to our roots. We make it easier for our community to connect with our past by providing accessible and relevant translations in our prayer book and especially the translations in our Kabbalat Shabbat Prayer Book: Your Presence Fills Creation and High Holy Days Prayer Book. We also offer Hebrew transliteration to many important prayers and poems.
Our singing is not exclusive to our sanctuary. We love to sing on all occasions. Each time we sit together to eat at TBZ, during our Shabbatonim (Shabbat Retreats) and our periodic Shabbat dinners, we sing Zmirot (Shabbat table songs) throughout the meal, filling our community hall with music, with joy and laughter.