Throughout all his years at Valley Beth Shalom, Rabbi Schulweis has sought to realize his vision of the synagogue as a locus of Jewish creativity and artistic expression. He continues to demonstrate a deep commitment to broaden the place of the arts in Jewish life, and most particularly, in the life of the synagogue.
The vision for the Creative Arts Program is to deepen our religious experience and memorialize our ritual by enriching it with visual arts, performing arts, music, and literature. The program encourages artists in all media to share their gifts with the synagogue community, as a model of the value of the arts. Composers, musicians, poets, dancers, dramatists, painters, sculptors and artisans have been enlisted to deepen and share their vision with the synagogue and with the greater community in which we live.
In this quotation, Rabbi Schulweis emphasized the intertwining between the cultural and ritual fabrics of Judaism: “The word for song in Hebrew is shirah, which means poetry and, according to the mystical tradition of Gematria, shirah has a numerical equivalence of 415. Tefillah, which means prayer in Hebrew, also has a numerical equivalent of 415. To sing is to pray, and to pray is to sing. As the poet sang: ‘God made the world with rhythm and rhyme, the very soul of song is woven into the skein of life.’ ” Much of the original poetry written by Rabbi Schulweis can be found in the Online Library in this web site under the keyword “poetry,” some of it combined with the music of Aminadav Aloni.
|Click on picture to play||VBS was the formative home for Aminadav Aloni and his creation of a great archive of Jewish music for solo voice, choir,and orchestra. Ami was recognized as a gifted composer with whom VBS was blessed with a 30 year association. With the encouragement of Rabbi Schulweis, a distinct liturgical voice was fashioned for the congregation. Aloni’s works, some in collaboration with Rabbi Schulweis, have spread worldwide, increasing awareness, pride and consciousness of the beauty of Jewish music and its power to enhance the religious experience. The Aminadav Aloni Music Foundation has been established to gather and publish the vast treasure of Ami’s repertoire. Many of these compositions can be heard on www.alonimusic.org.|
|Another example of the dedication of Rabbi Schulweis to the infusion of Jewish music with ritual and to music as a true form of expression of Judaic life is the widely acclaimed Valley Beth Shalom Congregational Choir. It is one of the premier congregational choirs in the western U.S. and provides an opportunity for the community to experience contemporary synagogue music and to hear the great master works of the past.|
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|Rabbi Schulweis’s leadership has encouraged the community to support many initiatives that raise awareness of all forms of Judaic art and foster the creation and expansion of new programs, compositions, and musical groups. A prominent example of this accomplishment has been realized by The Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles, www.jewishmusicla.org which originated at VBS. Rabbi Schulweis has been an active Advisory Board member since its inception. Established in 1982 by a grant from the Board of Directors of VBS, it is the only organization of its kind in the United States and has drawn a wide spectrum of artists to compose new Jewish music and has sponsored many performances in greater Los Angeles, some in conjunction with churches and other institutions.|