We are getting closer to INTO THE NIGHT, the 14th Street Y’s contemporary spin on Tikkun Leil Shavuot, taking place on May 19th. To explore one of the evening’s themes, “Soulfood: More Soul Than Food,” we are excited to highlight Rabbi Eva Sax-Bolder of the Shul of New York, who is hosting one of our most popular events of the night-long celebration, The Art of Jewish Chanting. We connected with Rabbi Eva to get her perspective on INTO THE NIGHT, Downtown Jewish Life, and her journey with spiritual Judaism.
Downtown Jewish Life: Can you give me some background on your organization and your Tikkun program?
Rabbi Eva: As the Rabbi of The Shul of New York, a downtown community of Jewish spiritual seekers, I am excited to once again be involved in the 14th St Y Tikkun. Our Shul is an inclusive, open, musical and spiritual community that prides itself on welcoming all who walk through our doors from A-Z: Atheists to Zoroastrians.
One of the spiritual tools I have shared with my community is the Art of Jewish Chanting. Together where we unlock the gifts and mysteries of our sacred Jewish texts through music, silence and intentions. It is our desire to share this practice with others on this night of Shavuot and begin to cultivate a Downtown Jewish Chanting Community in the coming year.
Downtown Jewish Life: You will be exploring a “path through the wilderness” to receive Torah. What does a “path through the wilderness” mean to you?
Rabbi Eva: Our daily lives are filled with so many twists and turns, as only I imagine our ancestors experienced, all too well, on their Exodus journey. On this Tikkun Leil Shavuot, we imagine that we, too, arrive at Sinai to receive the message that will guide our pathway to the Divine and light the way to freedom from our wilderness.
The wilderness is that place of our vulnerability, of curiosity, of surprises, of being open to receiving the gifts of Torah. By cultivating awareness of our perceptions and reactions, we are better able to open our hearts and listen deeply to the messages of our personal narratives, which I call the Torah of our Heart.
Downtown Jewish Life: What can people expect when they attend your session?
Rabbi Eva: The participants will experience Jewish chanting as a spiritual and meditative practice. We use the words of our sacred texts to transform our prayers. During our session we offer kavannot, intentions, for each chant. These intentions help to heal the spirit, transform the mind and deepen love by bridging our inner life and our external expression. In our chanting circle, we will read a short Hebrew phrase, unpack the meaning and explore it in an embodied way the power of chant can through singing followed by the silence. When we chant in community, we elevate our experience of the Divine.
Downtown Jewish Life: Do participants need to be fluent in, or familiar with, Hebrew in order to participate?
Rabbi Eva: The participants do not need to know Hebrew. Chant sheets with translations and transliterations will be available to guide the evening’s practice. The only requisite is to bring an open heart!
Downtown Jewish Life: Historically, your session is one of the more popular events of the night. Why do you think it is so popular?
Rabbi Eva: During this auspicious night of Shavuot, we have the opportunity to pause and reflect on the meaning of our life’s journey through chant and silence. There is something magical about a community of people chanting together. As the group becomes more comfortable with the format of repeating phrases through simple melodies, harmonies begin to emerge. In my years of leading chanting circles, I am always touched and humbled by how chanting opens the heart and soul for not only the individual, but also for those seeking to connect in community.
Downtown Jewish Life: Why is the Shul of New York involved with Tikkun?
Rabbi Eva: As a member of Downtown Jewish Life, The Shul of NY is excited to be an emerging face of “Spiritual Judaism” in the area. We believe that we have something unique to offer and can share with the 14th St Y community. You can learn more about us on our website.
Downtown Jewish Life presents INTO THE NIGHT: a contemporary spin on Tikkun Leil Shavuot
Hosted by The 14th Street Y on Saturday, May 19, 2018 | 6:00 PM & into the night
Join more than 20 downtown community partners for the fifth-annual night-time journey through conversation, culture, and ritual.