A few weeks later, I got a letter in the mail from Israel. It was a thank-you note from Lesley Sachs, a co-founder of WoW. I saved it and it's in my desk as I type.
A few months later, I struck up a Facebook "friendship" with Rachel Cohen Jeshrun, another WoW board member who had heard the CD and enjoyed it.
Over the next six months or so, we'd "like" an occasional post or PM each other about something or other.
Then, several weeks ago, Rachel contacted me and asked if I might like to compose a new setting for the words from the Priestly Blessing, something "upbeat and singable," for the women to sing at their next Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) gathering at the Kotel. I was very surprised, and honored, and although I had no idea what I was getting into or even if they're like what I came up with, I agreed to give it my best shot. Rachel gave me some parameters, helped me get clear on a couple of the finer points of Israeli Hebrew pronunciation, and turned me loose. I told her I'd try to have something in a couple of weeks, right after I came back from a family gathering.
I came home, got to work, and within two days of my arriving home, I had something. Rachel and I emailed back and forth to iron out a couple more Hebrew deatils, and recorded the final result and sent it off.
She wrote back saying she liked it and that she could teach it to the women in advance of Rosh Chodesh Elul. I offered to write an actual lead sheet when I had a little more time.Z
The deal was that, because the Priestly Blessing sung by women was causing such a stir at the Kotel, Wow decided to keep it under wraps until the day of the service -- so I could not tell anyone what I'd written or for whom. I understood and honored their request by not divulging details.
Meanwhile, I decided to skip a local show last night (Sorry, Shondes, you're awesome but money's been tight and you weren't going to start playing till after 10:00 pm and then, well, this thing came up) so I could stay home and sit glued to my computer feed.
I watched the entire service, with countless buffering interruptions and hecklers blowing whistles and yelling and banging on wood tables and everything else. I knew where in the service my song would be used and called my partner in to watch and listen with me. We watched, we stared at each other with amazed smiles on our faces, and then gulped and watched a little more together. Sweetie went back to what she was doing and I stayed and watched the whole service.
It was Saturday night in Portland, Sunday morning in Jerusalem, and my music had gone to Israel faster than the speed of light and had just been sung there.
It was surreal.
I was not prepared for the response in my head and heart as I watched.
For the first time in my life, I had found a truly compelling reason to go to Israel, as a Jew and as a woman.
I still have my doubts about ever being able to go, but that didn't matter in the moment.
What mattered was that I had a surprisingly emotional response to what I saw.
I just really wanted to go there and daven (pray) with them.
Even now I can't exactly articulate why, but i think that's okay.
As soon as the livestream was over, I posted the link to my Facebook feed and finally told my friends what I'd written and why. II also posted a link to my demo of the song over at my Reverb page.
It was late, so I went to bed.
This morning, my computer feed blew up.
I was touched by the response from so many in the Jewish web-i-verse, from many people I've never met in person. People thanked me and told me how glad they were that I had done this thing.
Tonight, twenty-four hours later, I am sort of overwhelmed.
Nothing else I've done as a Jewish musician has felt quite like this, has made such a deep impact. And for that, i am the most grateful of all. I am told that Women of the Wall plans to use my music again at future gatherings. I am honored and so glad to lend my name and my music in support of their work. I am grateful that I have a gift I can use like this when it means something real.
And I look forward to a time when Israel will really and truly welcome ALL Jews equally and without condition.
Ken y'hi ratzon -- may it be so.