Judah Lifschitz
A Washington DC Trial Lawyer

Tefilah Mehalev – Prayer From the Heart

Next week Jews around the globe will observe Rosh Hashana and inaugurate  5781 on the Jewish calendar. This year, as in every year, Rosh Hashana, the Ten Days of Repentance which culminate with Yom Kippur will be a period of reflection, introspection, repentance, and prayer. We will pray for ourselves, our families, our communities, the Jewish People, and for all of mankind. We will beseech the Almighty for a year of health, happiness, prosperity, and peace. And we will surely pray for an end to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But this year there will be one major difference from years past. Thousands of people will be unable to attend services in their synagogues because of that invisible, deadly enemy haunting the four corners of the globe – the Corona virus. It is difficult to imagine the enormous sense of loss which will be felt by those who cannot go to shul (the synagogue) to daven (pray) – especially this year.

Ever sine I was six years old I have participated in services on the High Holidays. As a child, I was fortunate to be selected as a choir boy in a cantor’s choir. There I learned the nusach, the liturgy, through which the holiday prayers have been transmitted for ages. As an adult, I have been privileged, though unworthy, for many years to serve as a Baal Tefilah (a non-professional cantor) and in this role lead the services on behalf of my community and advocate on their behalf before the Almighty.

This year I will again serve in this role, but under pandemic restrictions – an outdoor venue, a limited number of masked, socially distanced congregants, and a truncated and shortened service. I am lucky. I will be there. I will be in the synagogue praying with my fellow congregants. But many others will not be as fortunate. They will not be in shul. How upsetting and depressing that will surely be for them.

Several weeks ago the rabbi of my synagogue approached me and asked if I would “make a tape” of the yom tov davening, selections from the prayer services, so that those who can not attend will at least be able before the start of the holidays to have a taste of the traditional melodies and prayer service. Though I am far from a professional cantor or singer, I agreed to try in the hopes of brightening the spirits of those who cannot attend services.

The result of my modest efforts is a recording which I have named Tefilah Mehalev – Prayer from the Heart. It can be found at www.yomtovnusach.com .

It is my fervent hope and prayer that all who may listen to this humble recording will be inspired and moved and their spirits uplifted.

May we all be blessed with a Shana Tova Umetuka – a Sweet New Year.

About the Author
By profession I am a Washington DC trial attorney. I have written several books including a biography of the Klausenbereger Rebbe. I am also the author of several blogs including Saying Kaddish and a Corona Virus blog.
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