It’s Friday in Israel and, as sun begins to set later this afternoon, more than 1,000 people will gather at the Tel Aviv Port to welcome the Sabbath Bride. It’s the weekly Kabbalat Shabbat service, run by the Tel Aviv-based Beit Tefilah Israel (“House of Israeli Prayer”), an organization which has set for itself the task of building ” an active Jewish community which speaks to the breadth of the secular public.”
Now, the egalitarian, pluralistic Beit Tefilah has released its first CD with music from their popular Friday service by the beach. The CD has 17 songs which are performed by the Beit Tefilah Ensemble, led by Atalya Lavi who participated as a contestant on the ninth season of “Kochav Nolad,” Israel’s version of American Idol.
The CD – called “A Tel Aviv Prayer” – includes both classic Kabbalat Shabbat liturgical works (such as Lecha Dodi and Adon Olam) and music composed to Israeli poetry (for example Haim Bialik’s Shabat HaMalka). There is even a Hebrew version of the Louis Armstrong song “What a Wonderful World” that substitutes for one of the psalms of Kabbalat Shabbat.
Beit Tefilah isn’t the first Israeli congregation to release an album of its music. Jerusalem’s Jewish Renewal community Nava Tehila did that already a few years back and has started work on a second CD.
The new Beit Tefilah CD is for sale online at http://www.btfila.bandcamp.com. If you want to try before you buy, every song is available to stream from the site too.