[by Dr. Lee Shai Weissbach, Special to Community]
Keneseth Israel Congregation will host Joey Weisenberg, creative director of the Hadar Center for Communal Jewish Music, as its musician-in-residence, made possible by The Dave and Reva Waldman Kahn Fund for Jewish Learning, in a program called “Building Singing Communities” over the weekend of December 13 and 14.
Aside from directing the Hadar Center, Weisenberg is also the ba’al t’filah (prayer leader) of the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn, a performer who has mastered the mandolin, the guitar, and several other instruments, and the author of a book titled Building Singing Communities.
In recent years, Weisenberg has become a leading composer and performer of Jewish spiritual music. His works often reflect the Jewish singing tradition of nigunim, wordless melodies that seek to elevate the soul and bring spiritual fulfillment. He has performed and led workshops all over the world, always aiming to involve people of all ages and backgrounds in singing together.
“I can honestly say,” Weisenberg has written, “that some of my proudest musical moments have come in the company of amateur singers who are pouring their hearts out in communal song.”
While in Louisville, Weisenberg will be involved in a variety of activities. On Friday, December 13, beginning at 5:45 p.m., he will guide those present in a preparation for Shabbat using nigunim and he will then lead a Kabbalat Shabbat service that will be musical and spiritually uplifting. The Kabbalat Shabbat service will be followed by a ma’ariv service led by Cantor Sharon Hordes and then a traditional Shabbat dinner. At 8:30 p.m., following dinner, he will present a program in which he will discuss his extensive experience with nigunim and with prayer, and he will teach participants how to explore the soul of any melody.
During Shabbat morning services, which begin at 9:30, Weisenberg will speak on the relationship between cantorial music, Hasidic melodies and spontaneous communal choir, and he will then lead the morning’s concluding service.
A kiddush lunch will follow with mincha service at 12:30, and after that, at 1 p.m., Weisenberg will lead a session based on ideas from his recently released book Building Singing Communities. Participants will sing, discuss and even do some percussion.
The Washington Post has called Joey Weisenberg “a leading innovator in Jewish music” and his visit to Louisville certainly holds promise to be both entertaining and spiritually rewarding.
All events during the musician-in-residence weekend will take place at the Keneseth Israel synagogue on Taylorsville Road. The weekend’s events are free and open to the public, except for the Shabbat dinner, for which the charge is $16 for members, $18 for non-members, and $13 for children under 13. Vegetarian option available at $2 less per person. Reservations and payment for the Shabbat dinner are due by Tuesday, December 10. For more information, call the synagogue office at 459-2780.