A thirst for true niggunim

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

In my opinion, the roof of the Binyanei HaUma Convention Center in Jerusalem nearly blew off last night from the incredible energy generated inside. The occasion was a women's event I was privileged to host as part of Tzama, an annual Chasidic music festival.

Yuval Dayan chose to sing "Vezkeini Legadel" (May I merit to raise [wise children]), from the prayer said over the lighting of the Shabbat candles. "I thought about the millions of women who always whisper these words, but perhaps the time has also come to sing them loudly together.," Yuval said, and 1,500 women and girls in the audience sang/prayed with her that they would have the privilege of raising children who would light up the world.

Singer Nechami Ruben is a mother of three who lost her husband Yehuda in the Meron tragedy. She related that since she became a widow it is sometimes difficult for her to speak, but to sing is easier for her. Speaking sometimes weighs her down, while a niggun (Chasidic tune) gives her strength.

I was especially moved by song writer and singer Ruhama Ben Yosef's songs without words. Sometimes speaking is not necessary. The melody rises above confining words and enters straight into the soul.

And Leah Shabbat related how faith was always there, in all her songs: "Just Because of the Spirit," "A Piece of Heaven," "The Song that will Bring You Love," and others. She was visibly moved to sing ancient Chasidic songs for the first time and asked humbly for the crowd's assistance. Yet she actually did not need any help as she gave memorable and soulful renditions of King David's words from the book of Psalms.

I understood from this evening that songs are not merely a playlist of arbitrary background music, since they enter deep into each of our souls. Tonight, through the tears as well as dancing of the audience, I saw what a positive influence they can have.

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