This beautiful composition combines wisdom and ethereal sensuality. The lyrics encourage gratitude for the miracle of the human body’s workings, but beyond that, for the mysteries and pleasures our bodies make possible! The music is danceable, tranceable, great for establishing an atmosphere of wonder and delight. Also, love Shoshana’s warm, rich singing.
Dear Shoshana and All, Thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart for creating this work of beauty and love BaSheim HaShechinah. It inspires me and fills me with positive energy. Kol Hakavod and please do keep the creations coming! Bichvod/ with Respect, Cantor Mike Zoosman
Favorite track: Openings.
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When I wrote my song, “Openings,” I set out to reimagine the Asher Yatzar, Judaism’s traditional blessing over excretion (the Jewish “bathroom blessing”) in body-positive ways. In “Openings,” I expand the scope of wonder at the human form and allude to female bodies that are excluded from positive witness in the patriarchal liturgy. “Openings” directs praise to the Shechinah- the Immanent Divine Life-Force present in our intricate body functions. “Openings,” a joyous, dance-ready tune, celebrates a Creatrix who heals the human body and sustains its “chambers of wonder” that “open and close” with marvelous rhythmic complexity and coordination.
Beautifully produced by Daniel Ori, “Openings” was recorded in the summer of 2019. I am releasing “Openings” over a year later, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in which infected people across the globe are struggling for health and breath. It is a time when authorities decide when to “open up,” or close down, their communities in order to mitigate the virus’ spread. Some are healing from the virus, while others are losing their lives to it.
Our premodern ancestors were painfully aware of the insecurity of life. It is my prayer that people be healed quickly and completely from coronavirus and every plague of body, mind, and spirit, and that our species behave with respect for our planet's real limitations and sacred rhythms.
I dedicate “Openings” to my deceased mother, Ruth Tappis Jedwab, who contracted the poliovirus at age 11 before a vaccine was invented. My mother spent her tender adolescence in a children’s polio hospital, and later gave birth to me, parented me the best way she could, and now loves me in dizzy and divine ways from the Other Side.
“Openings” celebrates the temporary housing that is the human body. I am releasing “Openings” on the Sukkot harvest holiday. During this super earthy week-long festival, celebrants dwell in flimsy shacks that are deliberately open to the elements, and practice plant and dance rituals that signal the need for the skies to open with life-giving rain for the new agricultural year.
I release “Openings” with gratitude to the individuals who serve in the medical community and to all who sustain them and us at this time.
I am grateful to producer Daniel Ori for his exquisite taste, imagination, production skills, and enormous patience with me. I am thankful to Rabbi Shir Yaakov for his cover design and help with this release. I thank artist Rosalia Simunovic for the powerful image of the open pregnant body and exposed fetus that fills the eye before my song fills the ear.
“Openings” would never have been conceived had it not been for those who came to my drum circles over the years. Drumming together, we experienced the natural rhythms of the body and entrained with one another and with the generous and wild cosmos. We played in the miracle of the pulse of life that the Asher Yatzar blessing and “Openings” celebrate.
I am grateful to all who have prayed, sung, and danced to “Openings” before it was recorded, and who included “Openings” in their healing practices.
I praise Spirit for practicing this song through me.
May we all know a refuah shleimah—a complete healing of body, mind, and spirit soon.
I bless Shechinah for creating my body,
I bless Shechinah for my beautiful form
With passageways and organs working together,
Chambers of wonder that open and close
I bless Shechinah for the wisdom inside me,
I bless Shechinah for my skin, flesh, and bone
I’m an animal creature of hunger and kindness,
A puzzle of pieces, fragile and strong
But if one of them should fail, I cannot stand before You,
Shechinah You’re my healer, the Life Force that I know
In my heart beating, lungs breathing, muscles reaching, excreting,
pleasure-seeking, deep feeling, body in rhythm, singing Your song
I am an invested cantor through the Jewish Theological Seminary. I find this music, like Siddur haKohanot itself, to be nothing less than ground-breaking (no pun intended, given Earth-centered worship)...and powerfully inspired. A must-have for any lover of Jewish music or seeker of spiritual inspiration. cantormikezoos