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This Shabbat, we again read a double portion, Tazria/M’tzora.

We are introduced to the very complex and difficult concept in the religious life of Bnai Yisrael/Children of Israel: ritual purity and impurity. These categories are strange for us as 21st century Jews. There are very traditional members of the Jewish community who still observe Jewish law meticulously in order to avoid leaving the condition of ritual purity, becoming impure, and then going through the legal requirements needed to return to a status of ritual purity. Immersion in a Mikvah/ritual bath is sometimes required to return to the status of ritual purity. “For Jews in the Torah, ritual impurity is of concern because it is understood to undermine G-d’s presence in the community.” (URJ Torah, page 750). For members of our community, these issues are much less relevant. 

We learn in this portion about the Mitzvah of circumcising male children eight days after birth. This Mitzvah is observed by Jews the world over to this day.

The second portion, M’tzora, teaches us about an infectious skin disease that might be leprosy. If a member of the community becomes infected, he must be exiled from the community for a specified number of days, until he heals. The infected individual goes to the Kohen/priest, who performs a purification ritual enabling the afflicted person to rejoin the community. The home of the infected person must also be purified.


After five months of intense rehearsal, we are ready to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel at Verizon Hall, Wednesday, April 26th, at 8 pm. In addition to our 25 talented and beloved Shir KI singers and professional quartet, we are joined by more than 40 singers from congregations of the Old York Road corridor, making a fantastic group of 60 men and women who rehearsed weekly at KI since mid-December. We shall be joined by choirs from Main Line Reform Temple, Chester County, Lawrenceville, Voorhees, and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Fifteen Reform and Conservative Cantors are also singing with us, bringing our strong vocal forces to 175 singers.

We shall welcome the Israeli superstar, Noa, and her music director, Gil Dor. In 1998, Noa was the major star at our community’s Israel 50 celebration in the Wells Fargo Center, and her music inspired all of us! I am so proud that we are bringing her back for the 75th celebration. Noa will sing the first half of the concert with her music director, Gil Dor. The choirs will ascend the Verizon stage during intermission. The combined choirs will sing an exciting program of Israeli songs written during the past seven decades. The songs represent musical styles reflective of Israeli evolving cultural history. Each song relates to events from Israel’s history, both sad and triumphant.

Gil Dor, Noa’s music director, prepared a special arrangement for us of Noa’s major hit, Keren Or/Mizmor Layla. We shall sing this great song together with Noa as our finale!

Rabbi Ben David, senior Rabbi of KI, will begin the program with words of Torah and welcome.

We live during a very miraculous time! Despite major wars, drastic political struggles, ominous threats from neighboring Arab countries, and constant armed interventions from those who want to see Israel’s destruction, we have lived to witness the growth of a strong Israel, capable of defending herself and insuring her own future! Israel has become a world center for high tech innovation. Whenever we travel to Israel, we immerse ourselves in the history of our people from Biblical times to the present!

For more than fifty years, I have been teaching the music of the State of Israel to children, teenagers, and adults.  Both the lyrics and music of Israeli song repertoire are sources for learning Israeli history. Songs connect us to wars, to the eternal search for peace, to belief in Almighty G-d, emotions, geography, historical sites, and so much more! I am always so moved by songs written by secular composers expressing faith in G-d’s protection of the Jewish people. I refer to these songs as secular prayers.

In our program, we shall sing a few of the important songs from the last 75 years.

“Around the Campfire” is a medley of three songs, Finjan, Zemer Lach, and Rad Halaila. These songs evoke early memories of sitting around the campfire, dancing the hora, and wearing Kova Tembel hats.

Yerushalayim Shel Zahav/Jerusalem of Gold was written by the great Naomi Shemer in 1967 just before the outbreak of the Six Day War. It was selected as the most important Israeli song during the Israel 50 festivities.

Hallelujah was the Israeli entry in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1979, expressing eternal optimism in the future, under G-d’s protection.

Noladti Lashalom/I Was Born to Peace celebrated the signing of the Camp David Accords.

The musical styles of these songs are so drastically different! But they are united by the Hebrew language and the optimism they project for the future that we all need and pray for right now!

Please join us for an unforgettable evening of Israeli songs this coming Wednesday evening, April 26, Verizon Hall, at 8 pm, as welcome Noa back to Philadelphia.

For ticket orders, contact the Verizon Hall box office by phone or on their website. Enter OYRK15 at checkout for 15% discount.

We look forward to singing for you as we celebrate Israel 75 together!

Shabbat Shalom U’m’vorach!