Todah VeZimrah is an experiment in tefillah at Congregation Shaarei Tefillah in Newton, Massachusetts. Our aim is to forge a new (or maybe an old?) kind of tefillah that combines a commitment to the traditional siddur and nusach with a passionate engagement in communal singing. The sound of tefillah includes not only song but also silence; we strive to create an atmosphere that is free of small talk and chatter, making space for meditation and contemplation, and for a Shabbat spirit unmarred by the noise of the working week.
The guiding principles of our effort are: (a) to bring to the tefillah the hiddur mitzvah of beautiful music, sung unhurriedly and with the same attention to detail and quality that we value in other aspects of Jewish life, and of contemplative silence; (b) to encourage full participation in communal singing by men and women; (c) to revive the tradition of the chorshul—artistic solo and choral singing, but adapted to the principle of total involvement of the Kahal; (d) to provide an opportunity for all to experience the inspiring power of singing in harmony; (e) to establish an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming.
We meet on Friday nights monthly, in the Social Hall, to sing a kabbalat shabbat based on new arrangements of the Carlebach melodies, and a ma’ariv embellished with settings by Lewandowski. We welcome the participation of all, whether members of Shaarei Tefillah or not.