Avinu Malkeinu -- Our Father, Our King, My Son

These days you can pick your flavor of Avinu Malkeinu. Just see the links below. From Babs to Phish, everyone is singing out "Our Father, Our King."

None of these versions is my favorite.

My favorite, every year, is the version at Neilah, the final service of Yom Kippur. It involves no choirs, no cantorial solos, no complicated arrangements -- just a community pouring out its heart and soul and hunger and weariness together one last time before as the sun sets and the Gates of Repentance swing shut. 

When my son balks at coming to Neilah services, I insist. There is no choice here. Yes, you are a man -- we told you so at your bar mitzvah last year -- but it's my job as a Jewish mother to make sure you stand in the middle of this gathering of Jews and feel the reverberations of this melody. 

See the open aron kodesh with the holy Torah scrolls inside, dressed in white, unchanging from year to year, shul to shul, scroll to scroll. 

Avinu Malkeinu [We are tired]
Avinu Malkeinu [And we are hungry]

Watch the rabbis, tallisim pulled over their heads, lost in the melody, voices strained, calling on the last of their energy to lead the congregation in its plaintive cry.

Avinu Malkeinu [And here we stand]
Chaneinu V'aneinu [Hear our voices]
ki ein banu ma'asim [Rising as one]
Feel the people next to you swaying and shukling back and forth as they sing on key, off key, in a key all their own. Sing. Move. This is a full-body experience. We feel it in our bones, and it's in our kishkes.

Ase imanu tzedakah vachesed [The sun is setting]
Ase imanu tzedakah vachesed [The gates are closing]
vehoshiyeinu [And we are so very hungry]

This song, this tune, this people crying together is written on my soul, and it will be written on yours, young Benjamin -- but only if you are here. Only if you look, listen, and remember. 

Barbara Streisand


Phish Live





Anonymous said...

You're back! (At least I think it's you--are you the same person who used to write this blog, years ago?)

I'm glad you're back!

TheWriter said...

Yes! Same GoldaLeah here. I took down all the old archives (300+ posts) and am starting fresh. :)