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Cantor Ben Ellerin's blog

Hashkiveinu & Putting 5777 to Rest

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 12:00am -- Cantor Ben Ellerin

The weeks leading into our High Holiday season this year seem unprecedented, in many ways.  The New York Times recently ran an article that quoted science fiction writer, John Scalzi, who said, “[It] feels like the End Times are getting in a few dress rehearsals right about now.”[1]  Forces of nature have brought devastating hurricanes, wildfires, tremendous earthquakes, and a solar eclipse, while human tragedy looms in the form of nuclear threats, violent hate-filled protests, the continued refugee crisis, terrorist attacks, and

Who Put the Hallel in Hal’luyah?

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 12:00am -- Cantor Ben Ellerin

In the 2002 movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” Gus Portokalos is an affable Greek immigrant father who constantly shares his pride in Greek culture with everyone around him.  He says to his daughter and her friends, “Give me a word, any word - and I show you how the root of that word is Greek.” Well, allow me to kvell over the Hebrew in a word we all know, “hal’luyah.”  This colloquial word of celebration is derived from the root “halal” [הלל][1] meaning to praise.  In the second-person plural imperative form, the word is “h

The Psalms of Kabbalat Shabbat

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 12:00am -- Cantor Ben Ellerin

Expulsion from Spain was tremendously traumatic for the generation of Jews that lived in the late 15th century and the painful memory of being forced from their homes continued to haunt Jews for centuries.  Indeed, Jews had lived there for a thousand years.  The Jews of Spain and Portugal were integrated in the society in a seemingly inexorable way.  The expulsion from Spain was as traumatic as the destruction the temple was perhaps for Jews in the first century.  Certainly, seeking some divine involvement in their lives, the Sephardic Jews must have in part assumed it w

The Psalms of Kabbalat Shabbat

Tue, 02/28/2017 - 12:00am -- Cantor Ben Ellerin

Expulsion from Spain was tremendously traumatic for the generation of Jews that lived in the late 15th century and the painful memory of being forced from their homes continued to haunt Jews for centuries.  Indeed, Jews had lived there for a thousand years.  The Jews of Spain and Portugal were integrated in the society in a seemingly inexorable way.  The expulsion from Spain was as traumatic as the destruction the temple was perhaps for Jews in the first century.  Certainly, seeking some divine involvement in their lives, the Sephardic Jews must have in part assumed it w

Rainbows

Wed, 11/30/2016 - 12:00am -- Cantor Ben Ellerin

At the end of this week’s parahsah, or torah portion, God promises Noah that the world will never again be destroyed like it was in the flood.  And as a sign of God’s promise, as a sign of that brit, God creates rainbows as a reminder that God still remembers and still keep that promise.

Praying Together

Thu, 09/29/2016 - 10:08am -- Cantor Ben Ellerin

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the intervening days are known collectively as the “Days of Awe.”  There is a lot to find awe inspiring - the emphasis on deep personal introspection, the call to reach out and ask for forgiveness from those we may have wronged, and the beautiful words of our tradition.

In honor of Rabbi Jaech’s 10 year anniversary gala

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 12:00am -- Cantor Ben Ellerin

I am honored to present the lyrics to a few of the musical parodies that were featured during the course of the evening.  My hope is that everyone can continue to feel the joy and excitement we all felt that evening as we honored Rabbi’s amazing leadership and service to our community.  All lyrics are made in jest and no friendships were harmed in the making of these parodies.  Please enjoy!

 

Something Happened on the way to Villa Barone

Something familiar, something peculiar

Something for Jews and Goys: a gala tonight

Passover Reflections

Thu, 04/28/2016 - 8:55am -- Cantor Ben Ellerin

Even before I became a cantor, I always loved Passover seders.  It was a time for great food, being together with family, and it was a time for singing.  I didn’t have an especially musical family but I have really fond memories of singing the Four Questions and how together we tried to remember how the words and music fit together for Chad Gadya and Dayeinu.&nbsp

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