February 2007

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Shine On by Harold Messinger and Friends
News and Opinion

Shine On -- Harold Messinger and Friends

-- Stephen Asbel

Harold Messinger makes his recording debut with Shine On, his first collection of Jewish liturgical pieces with unique new musical interpretations. Messinger wears many musical hats. He is a music instructor and song leader at both Camp Ramah in the Poconos and Perelman Jewish Day School in suburban Philadelphia, a cantorial student at Gratz College, and he is the Shaliach Tzibur at Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania. Now, in this recently released CD recorded in 2006, Messinger has created a wonderful musical collection that blends the old and the new.

While the melodies are modern, the art of musical reinterpretation of Jewish liturgy is centuries-old, with each community combining the ancient texts with musical traditions that blend elements of local culture with traditional musical lines. Messinger creates a delightful musical sound that is a product of the Jewish experience in America and musical elements such as rock, folk, and even a bit of gospel, which can be heard with Middle Eastern musical elements at the end of the track “Oseh Shalom.”

On the track “Hallelu,” an adaptation of Psalm 150, the melody is based upon a Sufi chant. Perhaps for students of Middle Eastern Jewish history, it will recall Avraham Maimonides and Obadyah Maimonides, the son and grandson of the Rambam, who were part of a community of religious Jews in Egypt who were also practicing Sufis. The melody sweeps the listener along and could easily be adapted for congregational singing of Psalm 150 in its entirety in a synagogue service.

Looking for a creative way to wake the kids for school? Try playing “Modeh Ani,” a whimsical version of the prayer said upon awakening, done Texas-style.

The CD concludes with a fun rendition of “Yismechu” from the Shabbat Musaf Amidah done to a tune whose origin is not precisely known, other than it has been passed down through the years at Camp Ramah.

Shine On has plenty to offer as pleasant listening in the car or on the iPod with some tasty ideas for enlivening synagogue services. Enjoy! Shine On is available for purchase online at cdbaby.com .

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