Posts Tagged ‘worship’

So, now that High Holidays are officially over, with the completion of Simchat Torah, I really didn’t want to let much time go by without talking about what an incredible experience I had at Temple Beth David, in Palm Beach Gardens.

I must start off by saying thanks to Cantor Ann Turnoff, for recommending me to Rose, the Education Director, at TBD.  Rose is just amazing.  She was so happy, upbeat, and positive, every single time I spoke to her.  I know she is a busy woman – but she always had time for me, and greeted me with a big smile – even over the phone!  The pleasure I received from my HH experience was a direct result of Rose’s passion and enthusiasm, as well as Rabbi Michael Singer, and Cantor Jennifer Kanarek.

First – I was pretty much given carte blance, to create a service that would be fun, upbeat, and engaging.  This was something I’ve been doing for 10 years, but, definitely not for a Conservative synagogue.  I was caught in a conflict between trying to keep my nusach “correct” and making it FUN.  And, even when I thought I had the last draft finished, Rose said – make it a little MORE fun!

So – I cut loose, and created a service that would engage my littlest congregants, as well as the parents.  It was so much fun!  On Rosh Hashanah, the kids acted out the story of Creation.  For the Hakafah, they had about 40 small Torahs, and all of my kids paraded around the room singing and dancing.

On Yom Kippur, we acted out the story of Jonah and the Whale.  We asked questions, and talked about forgiveness, appreciation, and making new promises for the coming year.  In all, I did 5 services, and while I’m still recovering from mental exhaustion, it was the most amazing experience of my life.

I cannot forget to thank Rabbi Singer and his wife and children, for inviting me to their home for both Erev Rosh Hashanah, as well as RH afternoon, on the 2nd day.  Their home was lovely, and it felt so good to be invited, and cared about by them.  Rose invited me to her daughter’s home on Erev Yom Kippur – and that was amazing, too.  Her daughter cooks the BEST challah I have ever tasted!  Her family was lovely, and again, they treated me so well – I felt like this was my family, too!

I also want to say thank you to the many TBD congregants who made me feel like I was at home.  On the second day of RH, after my service was finished, I went in to the main sanctuary, to listen to Rabbi’s sermon (which was also amazing) and they offered me an aliyah!!  That was so nice, and I am so appreciative to each and every one of the members and staff at TBD for including me.  I think the families really appreciated having a venue where they could worship with their children, and I think it’s so important for children to watch their parents worship as well.  Otherwise – how else will they learn?

I am hoping that TBD will become a home away from home for me.  I want to work with them, to help increase their family participation, and attract members with fun and exciting ways to worship.  If watching Rabbi Singer and Rose in action are any indication – we’ll be soaring to new heights, in 5769.

L’Shanah Tovah to everyone at TBD!  Thank you for making my High Holidays such a special experience!


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Wow, 8 days with no posts – I know, pretty unacceptable in the blogging world, but until they manufacture a 25th hour to the day, there has just been no way!

I just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year, and convey my intention for you to bring everything you dream of into your lives this year.  For the first time ever, in my life, I am really living my dream, and so it is more important for me than ever to continue to take inventory of what I have accomplished, succeeded and failed at, and what I want to do better.

I also wanted to stress that we cannot ask for anything at all, if we have not appreciated yet what we have in the present.  I know it may sound hokey, but, it seems that every time I write about my appreciations for what has come into my life, more just comes in!  And it seems that when I focus on what I don’t have that I want, more of what I don’t want comes in its place.  So, once again – keep thanking whoever you want to thank for what you have.  Don’t forget to be thankful for crazy things like tires on your car, and elevators, and hair color in a bottle.  It’s the little things that make our lives interesting!

This year, I am asking God to help me find more ways to be a better, deeper, more productive person.  I can’t expect anything more to come to me, without finding more ways to give.  I’ve written about it before, but I really would like to become more involved in a charity that is meaningful in my life, and that I can make a difference in.  I’m not sure what that is, but I intend to find it this year.

I’m incredibly excited (but a little nervous) about my Family Service at Temple Beth David in WPB.  I’m so lucky to have found this amazing little Conservative synagogue up there with the coolest Rock and Roll Rabbi (Rabbi Michael Singer), the sweetest little Cantor (Cantor Jennifer Kanarek), and the most amazing Education Director (Rose Rosenkrantz) I have ever met.  They are warm, loving, supportive, empowering, and creative.  They have welcomed me into their world, and I cannot wait to be a part of it.  They have been so generous to me already, by offering my family space in the services, and inviting me to dinner on Erev RH.  I can’t wait to celebrate with them, and bring a warm, loving, exciting presence to their Family Service.

So, over the next few days, I will be vocalizing, practicing my guitar and warming up my fingers, meditating and getting focused for the upcoming services.  Of course, I still have a new Sunday School program starting up this weekend, and weddings to write and plan, but, there just won’t be much spare time, so I may not be back until after RH.

In the meantime, L’shanah Tova.  May God inscribe you in the Book of Life.  May you achieve everything you dream of, and may you be blessed with a good year, an abundant year, a year of peace, and a year of blessings.


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Jackie Olenick, Leon’s wife (and my all time favorite Judaic artist on earth) put this beautiful invitation together.  Seats can be reserved with your $72 donation through Paypal – to debbi@mypersonalcantor.com
Please call me at 954-646-1326 if you have questions.
High Holiday Invite

High Holiday Invite

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Tonight, Leon & Jackie and I joined Karen Modell from The Friends Meeting House in Lake Worth for dinner, and a tour of the house.  It is a quaint house right off 10th Ave N & I-95, and it is the perfect space for our High Holiday service.

We are going to hold a full service, including Erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah morning, Erev Yom Kippur, Yom Kippur, N’Eilah, and a light break fast – all for the amazingly reasonable price of $72 per person, not including donations.  Leon is a wonderful Rabbi who cuts through all of the ego stuff, and gets right down to the meaning of worship.  Have you grown tired of condescending Rabbis who yell at you on the pulpit?  Are you over the fashion show that makes you feel like you’re wearing last years sale items?  Have you felt like your worship experience is parallel to a used car sales pitch?

We won’t have any of that.  Not if we can help it.  We don’t care what you wear.  We don’t care what you have (or don’t have)  We really mean that.  The only thing that is limited is space, so it’s first come first serve.  We do have to pay for the house, for advertising, and for the food items for break-fast, so of course, donations are gratefully accepted, but not required.  If you want a loving, warm, and spiritual place to pray, this is it!  We don’t even care if you speak Hebrew.  Come and sit for an hour – and just contemplate the year you left behind, and the year you wish to have for yourself.  That’s all that is required.

I’m so excited to do something with meaning.  Yes, I loved the experience of standing in front of my congregation in years past, especially my solos and my 20 seconds of fame, but this is so much more worthwhile.  Even if there are 20 people in our congregation, if those 20 people are praying their kishkes out, then it was worth the trip!

So, I’m putting it out there, and I have full intention of filling the room with passionate, spiritual folks like me, who just want to get a little closer to Hashem this month.  Won’t you join me?

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Well, it looks like we are getting closer to a plan, and while tomorrow should finalize the plans, I am so excited, I wanted to put out the word right away.  Hopefully, I won’t jinx anything!

Rabbi Leon Olenick and I are going to offer a free High Holiday service in Lake Worth.  We both agree that today’s unaffiliated community wants something that is unrestrictive, open, welcoming, warm, and friendly.   We have decided to create a space that matches that exact description.  This is NOT your grandfather’s High Holiday service!  Be prepared!  We want to bring the unaffiliated community in Palm Beach County an opportunity to worship, daven, reflect, and pray without feeling judged, compared, or measured in any way.  (Hmmm, sounds kind of good to me – I have yet to find that anywhere down here, so I’m pretty excited!)

I recently put a survey out on the internet, asking people “Do you consider yourself to lean towards being more religious – or spiritual in your worship practices”.  Do you know that so far, I am up to 120 responses, and 98% of them say they are more spiritual than they are religious.  I take this to mean that we want more of a connection, and a pathway to communicating with G-d, rather than a dogmatic approach to fearing him.  Wouldn’t we all want more of a relationship with G-d, if we could imagine having a mutually rewarding experience?  Well, this is what I intend to create in my service.  G-d should be SO easy to reach, and sometimes, I feel our Jewish religious services make people feel less and less connected, rather than more.  If G-d were easily accessible, we would all be latching on!

Well, please consider joining me, for our High Holiday service.  I believe we are going to be holding our service at the Friends Meeting House, at 823 N. A Street, in Lake Worth.  We only have 85 spots total, and several people have already committed, so please let me know if you are interested in attending.  I promise, it will be worth the price!  🙂

Shalom, and L’shanah Tovah,

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“With Intention” recently posted an article about Jewish community…

This is a question I come up against daily. My reply is below

You have a great point, and one that I write about frequently.

I thoroughly believe that at one point, synagogues were vital to perpetuating Jewish continuity in the U.S. Today, however, I believe and experience daily that Jews are growing ever more dissatisfied with that experience, but developing their own ways to create the community experience.

We also need to ask – what defines community? Is it the number of people? Does it matter where they go? What do they go for? And if they can find “it”, isn’t that their community?

Technology allows us to be more creative than ever to finding our “communities”. I have a group of people I worship with on Fridays, and a whole other group for Saturday. There are those I find my intellectual equals, others I find are my social companions.

Community…What is it?

Just being together – wherever we are, whatever we are doing. If we’re being Jewish, in a group more than ourselves, it can be defined as community.

The really important factor here is…BE Jewish.

Cantor Debbi Ballard

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