All God’s Children Have a Place in the Choir

I’d never heard it before: someone singing the Torah. A woman, no less! I didn’t know chanting existed, had never heard of trope. It was mysterious and beautiful. It was awesome. But this story isn’t really about chanting Torah. It’s about singing at Temple Sinai.

My husband Sherm Edwards and I had joined the synagogue when it became time to give our young children a religious orientation. Years later, with the children launched, we considered joining the choir. For us, it was an empty nest move. It also provided an answer to our lessened sense of connection to the synagogue once our children were no longer “bringing us” there for Religious School. A key to our decision: no audition. While both of us had played instruments as children, neither of us is trained in voice. Not only that, the High Holy Day music fills several binders. It’s daunting. But we were warmly welcomed into the choir, and assured we would eventually get it—after a few years! And so it has proven true. We mostly know the music, six or seven years into it. And I now sit next to that very same “chantress,” Nelly Urbach, whose voice had long ago drawn me in.

Rehearsing with the choir as the holidays approach instills in us a sense of preparing for the Days of Awe. It has increased the spirituality of the season for both of us. Rehearsals are hard work, but we are carried along by a wonderful camaraderie and good laughs. We love hearing the beautiful voices of our fellow choir members. And when I attend services at any other time of the year, I have the pleasure of knowing many more of the songs.

In addition to the High Holy Days, the choir sings at Shabbat Shira and other special events. Recently, we joined choirs from 22 metro area congregations to commemorate Kristallnacht at Strathmore Hall. Singing in the choir at Temple Sinai is one of the best kept secrets. To my mind, it’s the very best way to experience the High Holy Days, and a wonderful way to be part of Temple Sinai.


-Melinda Salzman