Episcopal Choir Sings God’s Praises on Jewish High Holy Days

Image above: Members of the Trinity Memorial (Binghamton) Church Choir are pictured  with Rabbi Barbara Goldman Wartell and Cantorial Soloist Sarit Katzew of Temple Concord, Binghamton. The picture was taken following Rosh Hashanah services on Thursday, September 21, 2017.


Photo and text by Jeff Fellows of Trinity Memorial Church

For thirteen years now,  ten to twelve members of the Choir of Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Binghamton have been singing Gods’ praises with their neighbors at Temple Concord (Reformed). The Temple has asked members of the choir to sing for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. John Isengerg, Organist at All Saints Episcopal Church in Johnson City, serves as the Director and accompanist.


Most of the music is in Hebrew, and is led by a Cantor and the choir. You might recognize some of the service elements–we celebrate them the same way in our own Episcopal service. Some of the prayers are the same, word for word.  The Torah is lifted and carried in and amongst the congregation before it is read, just as we take the Gospel out to our congregation for reading.  Members share the peace (Shalom) of God in the same manner as we do. Before the sermon, they sing the Yih’yu L’Ratson: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto Thee Oh, Lord” (from Psalm 19, KJV).  God is Present!

The music for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebration, is very moving and uplifting and the shofar is sounded at the morning service.  Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, starts with the “Kol Nidre,” a prayer of reconciliation and forgiveness. Introduced by the Cantor, it is repeated with the Choir with a Cello accompaniment and followed by the inauguration of the Day of Atonement.  The Kol Nidre is an emotional song that brings tears to the eyes of many as they open their hearts and souls in the vulnerability required for the Day of Atonement.

Experiencing these services each year is something the choir members look forward to.  They have built a strong bond with Temple Concord’s congregation.  Temple Concord is one of six congregations that regularly host Trinity’s Canteen Meal served at noon every single Sunday.  It seems that God has brought us together for a reason.  Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melech haolam, which translates to: Blessed are You, LORD, our God, Sovereign of the Universe.

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