Or Zarua (Max Janowski): Beverley Chiat and the Temple Israel Singers (Live Video 2013)

~~”Or Zarua LaTzadik Ul’Yishrei Lev Simcha.”

~~”Light is sown for the righteous, and for the upright of heart, gladness,”

Beverley Chiat (Soprano

Vocal Trio: Thesele Kemane, Beverley Chiat, Katherine Moon, Leanne Jacobson & Albert Combrink (Piano)
(Arranged by Albert Combrink, Sung in Hebrew)

(This setting is an extract from Psalm 97, Verses 11 & 12)

We bless the candles.  We wait for the curtains of the Ark to be pulled open to reveal the richly decorated Torah Scrolls. There is electricity in the air. Then a chord rings out. A stark and statuesque open 5th, no third to make it Major or Minor. From behind the piano I smile as Max Janowsky greets the congregation on this evening service of Kol Nidre, which, along with it’s companion Yom Kipur the next morning, is probably the most intense spiritual day of the Jewish Calender. We are in for a long day. Jewish days start at nightfall and last until the next sunset. By the time the sun dips tomorrow evening, we will have taken in Kol Nidre, Yom Kippur and the Neilah service – more than 9 hours at the Synagogue which includes a nil-by-mouth fast. Atoning for one’s sins is a serious business, not to be taken lightly or in a hurry.

And yet, we start with a smile. We start with hope. We start with Janowsky’s signature leap of faith, from the Dominant to the Tonic. The opening Hebrew word Or (“Light”) is repeated three times. An invitation to the Almighty to shine Holy Light into our hearts, as well as the congregation having the opportunity to open their eyes, ears and hearts.

Max Janowsky (1912–1991)

Max Janowsky (1912–1991)

A straight forward Ternary Form, the soloist is echoed by the piano/organ. Choir joins in the B section with soloist, chorus and accompaniment echoing each other in the style of a procession entering the Temple. Once everyone is miraculously gathered in their places, the prayer turns from the community back to the individual and their conversation with the Almighty.  Three times again the Cantor repeats the Or (“Light”) and we end on the Jewish version of the Tierce de Picardi, undeniably in the major. We might be atoning from a place of darkness, but the music has definitely brought us into a Place Of Light.