Temple Israel’s new CD With One Breath explores the congregation’s cohesiveness in prayer through music.
Photos by Maya Grinboim
In other circumstances, the event might be called a record release party.
This event comes in the form of a festive Shabbat service as Temple Israel introduces a new recording made by the religious staff in collaboration with musical talents based in the United States, Canada and Israel.
With One Breath, featuring traditional Hebrew prayers that are part of Temple Israel services and set to the music of today’s composers, will be performed Friday evening, Nov. 22, just days after the recording is made available Nov. 18 through free web distribution.
Twelve soundtracks are being accompanied by a video of the first track, “Hinei Ma Tov.” Free CDs will be given out to those attending the formal introduction, where vocalists and band members will present live renditions of what they have recorded.
“We have created a celebration of Jewish music that brings together the sounds of Ashkenazic and Sephardic Judaism,” says Cantor Michael Smolash, at the helm of the five-year project as funded by the Gottlieb family in memory of Stephen Gottlieb, who delighted in playing music as well as listening to others.
“One goal was to present the music of Temple Israel and Reform Judaism in a way that would reach out to people’s lives. The second was to introduce new congregants to our music so they can enjoy listening to it and be very comfortable having learned the melodies on their own. The third is to put up new music people haven’t heard.
“I think the few new pieces will be useful to congregations all over the country and will add to the musical life of Reform Judaism,” Smolash said.
This Temple Israel recording, which follows the recordings Kavanat Haruach and We Are One, also will be available at temple-israel.org/album. The digital source also has transliterations, translations and credit listings of participants, who did not have to be together in a single studio to join in the music.
Through technology, the base recording was enhanced with the sounds of distant add-ons, such as a Celtic whistle and oud in Toronto and a dumbek in Tel Aviv.
Ari Posner, who scores award-winning Canadian television series and films, was the recording producer and arranger as well as composer of two pieces, “Barchu” and “Mi Chamocha.”
“I think this recording is an eclectic musical journey, and I hope it will be uplifting to people in a spiritual way but also in an enjoying music kind of way,” says Posner, who has worked on Anne, X Company and Flashpoint as they gained series popularity.
“The text and lyrics come from prayers and liturgy, but I feel the songs stand on their own as just good songs enjoyable to listen to.”
Joining the local musicians is violist and violinist Sonia Lee, who has worked with Josh Groban and Billy Joel. Besides Smolash, vocals are performed by Cantor Neil Michaels, Rabbi Jennifer Lader, stage and recording artist Jacob “Spike” Kraus and Emma Trivax, who sings at services.
“Choneini,” the third track, has to do with the theme of healing. With music composed by Smolash, it has a voiceover reading by Rabbi Paul Yedwab.
The cantor explains the title of the recording has to do with the feeling of cohesiveness pervasive in the congregation as expressed, in part, through music.
“At Temple Israel services, when we’re singing and praying together, there’s something about breath and singing and spirit that really unites us all,” he says. “That was what the recording was getting at — getting everyone to meet together in active prayer, with one breath, as it were.”
With One Breath will be introduced during services at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov.22, at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield. (248) 661-5700. temple-israel.org.