Beth El to host two special events this May

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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — In May, Congregation Beth El of South Orange will hold two special events to which the public is invited.

Beth El is thrilled to have Joey Weisenberg, creative director of Mechon Hadar’s Center for Jewish Communal Music, in residence for a Shabbat, May 19 and 20, focusing on the intersection of music, spirituality and prayer. Weisenberg will speak and lead communal singing and ruach in services and over meals throughout Shabbat! No instruments will be used during Shabbat.

On Friday, May 19, at services at 6:15 p.m., Weisenberg will ease celebrants into Shabbat with niggunim — wordless melodies — and soulful Kabbalat Shabbat services. Dinner follows at 7:30; RSVP for Shabbat dinner at this link. At 8:30 p.m., he will explore the “Transformation of a Niggun,” focusing on beautiful old melodies as well as his own compositions.

On Saturday, May 20, Torah Talk will begin at 8:45 p.m., during which Weisenberg will explore Torah and Talmudic sources of singing, followed by services beginning at 9:30 a.m. During services, at approximately 11 a.m., he will discuss “The Architecture of Listening,” exploring the interaction between physical space and spiritual music. He will then lead a spirited Musaf, in which all the Beth El children are invited to participate. This will be followed by a congregational kiddush at noon. At 1:30 p.m., Weisenberg will lead “Building Singing Communities,” a discussion of strategies for bringing people together to make music a lasting and joy-filled force in Jewish life.

On Sunday, May 21, at 7 p.m., Beth El will present the Rabbi Jehiel Orenstein Memorial Lecture. The guest speaker will be Norman Cohen, a highly regarded scholar, teacher and lecturer, and professor emeritus of midrash and former dean of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. His topic will be “The Challenge of Hineini in our Lives: Responding to those we Love.” A dessert reception will follow the lecture. The program is a gift of the Orenstein family in memory of Beth El’s rabbi emeritus.