Prayer and Song Booklet with Guitar Chords for Simchat Shabbat
Created by Yonatan Dotan
For my first semester Merit Scholarship project I wanted to do something that involved music and would be beneficial for Beth El. After talking to Judy Haven and Eadie Tsabari, we decided that it was important to incorporate music into services, and the original idea was to make a booklet of prayers and songs along with the guitar chords so that a song leader could play guitar and lead youth services. Around the same time, Eadie was asked to help lead Simcha Shabbat, a new service done by Sisterhood to try to bring a new twist to Shabbat by incorporating music and different ways to help connect people to prayers and the Torah. Eadie, my mentor for the project, and I decided to make the booklet of prayers and music so that it could be used by whoever was leading the Simcha Shabbat Service.
In preparation for the service and for creating the booklet, Eadie and I met several times to put music to the prayers and to discuss what would be played during the service. There was an assortment of old and new songs that would hopefully help congregants connect to prayer. We had one final rehearsal along with everyone who had a part in the service a few days before Simcha Shabbat. Then, the day of the service I helped to lead by playing guitar along with Eadie and Jill Belmont. There was a big turnout for the service; there were even some people who I had never seen at Beth El before. It’s a good feeling knowing that people want to participate at the synagogue and are willing to try new things. Simcha Shabbat touched many people and there was a great response afterward. Currently the services are scheduled during the first week of each month, and hopefully they will continue to bring more people to Beth El. With this booklet completed it will be easy for a leader to play guitar, sing the prayers and know the order of the service. The booklet includes the order of the Simcha Shabbat service, page numbers of the Sim Shalom siddur and the artists of the newly added songs.
This project has enabled me to combine music, something I have loved to do for a long time, with helping out at the synagogue. I think it is important to connect to Judaism through music, and making this booklet will help many others down the line to either lead Simcha Shabbat services, youth services or any other services with a musical twist. I hope that younger students will also see this as an opportunity for them to step into leadership roles and get involved in any way they can at Beth El.