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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln Square Synagogue’

Beauty is as Beauty Does; Saphira Products Promote Pure Israel

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

When she was in 10th grade, Saphira Tessler’s parents took her and her brother to Israel for her father’s sabbatical year. Saphira was not happy.  But within months, Tessler changed her mind — and she changed it so dramatically that her mother gave in and moved to Ranaana so that Saphira could complete 11th and 12th grade in Israel, the land which had become her home.

And that country is so important to Saphira, that by the time she graduated in 2012 from the InterDisciplinary Center in Herzliya, she had already married an Israeli and the two committed to starting a business in the Jewish State, one using not just Dead Sea minerals, but in which every single aspect of Saphira Hair is from Israel – from the bottles in which the products are poured, to the boxes in which they are shipped.  The design, production, materials, employees and packaging are all Israeli.

But simply showing support for the Jewish state is not all that Saphira Hair has going for it – Saphira and her husband Aviad Greenberg spent a year meeting with chemists and visiting factories to find the exact right combination of minerals that would work miracles for the hair that Dead Sea minerals do for the skin.

And beyond having a beautiful product with tasteful but glamorous packaging, the woman behind the soon-to-be empire gives meaning to the cliché “beautiful inside and out.” And she’s got talent to boot!

SAPHIRA’S STORY

Saphira and her older brother, Roniel, grew up in Potomac, Maryland, where their father has been the rabbi of Beth Sholom Synagogue for nearly 30 years.  Her mother, Aviva, co-founded and is the executive director of Operation Embrace, a non-profit which provides services to Israeli victims of terrorism.

Both Saphira’s parents are musical.  Her mother was an opera singer and her father thought he was going to become an actor on Broadway.  Instead, her father met up with Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, formerly of New York City’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, who told Saphira’s father: “no, you’re going to become a rabbi.”

After receiving smicha from Rabbi Yosef B. Soleveichik, Rabbi Tessler later not only was the spiritual leader of Beth Sholom Synagogue in Potomac, but is also currently the president of the International Rabbinic Fellowship of the Rabbinical Council of America.

With music running in her veins, Saphira also was interested in singing.  She applied and was accepted to New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, but deferred for a year while she attended the Lindenbaum Seminary in Jerusalem.  Although Lindenbaum is a studious seminary, Saphira found the time to attend nightly rehearsals and starred in the musical “Rent” in Jerusalem.

By the time Saphira completed her seminary year, she realized she could not return to the States and instead enrolled at the InterDisciplinary Center, majoring in psychology.

While a student at the IDC, Saphira initiated an empowerment program for pre-adolescent girls at Elazraki, a school for disadvantaged children in Netanya.  She later took the same program, called “Strong Women, Strong Girls” to work with girls from privileged backgrounds in schools around Herzliya.

“The girls from privileged backgrounds needed it even more than did the ones who were ‘disadvantaged!’” Saphira told The Jewish Press in interview on Monday, Nov. 4.

Saphira was the president of the IDC’s Hillel, and one of her responsibilities was to run the Shabbat dinners. Some Israeli students who came to the dinners told their friend Aviad about Saphira, and they two finally met.

“I told him I would go out with him, but not to a coffeehouse, as he suggested,” Saphira said about her first date with Aviad. “I told him we had to go to a cabaret, because although I would only date a religious boy, it had to be a boy for whom women singing in public was acceptable.”

Aviad went to the cabaret, passed the “Saphira Test” and they were married in August, 2011.  The two took the money they received as wedding gifts, and invested it all in starting their hair care business.

BUT WHY DEAD SEA PRODUCTS FOR THE HAIR?

Saphira says she was always fascinated by the incredible benefits from the Dead Sea, and she began to wonder whether it would also work to make hair soft and beautiful, just as it does for the skin.  Aviad, whose father is in the hair care business, encouraged his new wife to explore the idea.

‘I’m A Chazzan, But I Don’t Put On A Broadway Show’: An Interview with Lincoln Square Synagogue’s Cantor Sherwood Goffin

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Sherwood Goffin has had a storied career. The cantor of Lincoln Square Synagogue since 1965, Goffin started his musical career as a folk singer. From 1961-1995, Goffin sang on major stages worldwide, recorded six albums, and was known as the “Voice of Soviet Jewry,” singing at all the major Soviet Jewry UN Solidarity Day rallies from 1964-1991.

Today, Goffin is a faculty member at Yeshiva University’s Belz School of Jewish Music, principal of the LSS Feldman Hebrew School, and honorary president of the Belz School-affiliated Cantorial Council of America (CCA) – the only exclusively Orthodox cantorial organization in the world – which will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary with a Shabbos Chazzanus on Memorial Day weekend.

The Jewish Press recently spoke with Cantor Goffin about the CCA and the fascinating history of Jewish liturgical music.

The Jewish Press: What is the CCA’s mission?

Goffin: To educate the Orthodox world on the proper way to daven.

What do you mean by “the proper way to daven”?

There are halachos and traditions that must be maintained.

The modern idea is: If a guy knows two Carlebach niggunim, he’s a chazzan and can do whatever he wants. But imagine if a guy got up on Kol Nidrei night and, instead of singing the traditional tune, sang the latest Carlebach melody. How would you feel? It would destroy your entire kavanah, and that is assur. The Shulchan Aruch rules that one cannot change a community’s customs, even its melodies, because the people will become confused and upset.

Most people know better when it comes to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but the same halacha also applies to the shalosh regalim, Shabbos, even weekdays.

But is there really one “proper” way to daven? Aren’t there many different variations of traditional tunes among different communities?

Yes, there are variations. But, as you go up in kedushah – from weekday to Shabbos to shalosh regalim – there are more and more things that are fixed. In Ne’ilah on Yom Kippur almost every paragraph has to be done a certain way.

Are you talking about specific tunes or something else?

We have seven modes of music. Modes are like colors or textures, and every single paragraph of tefillah has its own musical mode. Each mode gives a certain feeling and aura. For example, you can’t do Kaddish before Mussaf in minor; it has to be in major.

If you know how to daven properly, you raise the level of the tzibbur’s kavanah. I tell all my students that the kavanah of your tzibbur rests on your shoulders.

Where did today’s tunes for davening come from?

From the Maharil, Rabbi Jacob Moelin (1365-1427), who was the chief rabbi of the Rhineland, where the majority of Jews lived at that time.

He was concerned that the melodies of the Troubadours, Minnesingers and jongleurs – early European folk singers – were infiltrating into shuls and that chazzanim were copying church melodies. He was afraid that a whole tradition that went back to the Beis HaMikdash was getting lost. So he took it upon himself to standardize the nusach, and we follow it to this day. (If you look at Hilchos Tefillah in the Shulchan Aruch, you will see the Rema constantly citing the Maharil.)

The Maharil took this matter very seriously.

Yes. One of the Maharil’s students records that the Maharil once went to another city or country and changed the nusach. The local people said to him, “Rabbeinu, we don’t do it this way here,” but he didn’t listen. Two months later he went home and found that his daughter had died while he was away. According to the Maharil, his daughter’s death was punishment for changing the nusach in that city. That’s how strongly he felt about it.

You said earlier that the Maharil believed traditional Jewish music to have originated in the Beis HaMikdash. But wouldn’t the music in the Beis HaMikdash have sounded more Middle Eastern?

Yes, but it became Europeanized. Did you ever play telephone when you were a kid? You line up ten kids, whisper something in the first kid’s ear, and it comes out different the other end. But there’s a chain that connects them. The Maharil was trying to maintain that chain.

I should add that among the musical modes we use in davening is Freygish – the Arabic Hijaz – which you don’t find it in any Western mode in the world. It’s Oriental [which demonstrates a linkage to our Middle Eastern roots].

How do Sephardim daven today? Do they also use different musical modes for different paragraphs?

No. They have one mode for each Shabbos, depending on the parshah. If the parshah is sad, it’s a sad mode; if the parshah is happy, it’s a happy mode.

So whose tradition is more accurate: ours or theirs?

Probably theirs. For instance, the Yemenites were shut away for 15 centuries and were forbidden by their rulers from having any communication with the outside world. So they really kept their minhagim [faithfully], and they claim their niggunim go back to the Beis HaMikdash. Now we can’t prove that, but it’s interesting: The Gregorian melodies of the Catholic Church – standardized between the years 400 and 600 – were also reputed to have come from the Temple in Jerusalem, and Professor Avraham Tzvi Idelsohn, the great Jewish ethnomusicologist [died 1938], found in quite a number of places that Yemenite melodies and Gregorian chants were almost note for note the same.

Switching topics slightly, what do you say to those Orthodox Jews who dislike chazzanus because they view it as a performance rather than tefillah?

Look, I’m a chazzan, but I don’t put on a Broadway show. I don’t repeat words and I don’t sing long cantorial recitatives. That world has gone. Even the most professional chazzanim today don’t do more than one or two long pieces on a Shabbos. When I was a kid, Moshe Koussevitzky did maybe 12 or 15.

What changed?

The chazzan is a reflection of his shul. Koussevitzky davened until 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon because that’s what his congregants wanted. It developed in Europe when the Jews couldn’t go to the opera. So they brought the opera into their shuls by asking their chazzanim to expand and become more elaborate. But that world has gone.

Is that good or bad?

I don’t know. But the most important thing is the nusach – the proper way to daven – not the cantorial recitatives.

Why, then, is the CCA holding a Shabbos Chazzanus on Memorial Day weekend?

The chazzanim are going to reflect the CCA’s philosophy; they will daven properly. People will certainly hear chazzanus, and there is a grand concert Sunday evening, but the davening won’t be overly repetitious or over the top.

The rest of the convention – Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday – is dedicated to education about nussach ha’tefillah and sessions on congregational singing, the future of the chazzan, and other matters.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/im-a-chazzan-but-i-dont-put-on-a-broadway-show-an-interview-with-lincoln-square-synagogues-cantor-sherwood-goffin/2010/04/28/

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