The Land of Enchantment


That’s the motto that greets you on the welcome sign on I-25 and I suppose it’s fitting. Within hours of crossing that boundary I was in an adobe synagogue in Albuquerque chanting with 20 women.

Yes, I was chanting. I was holding a video camera at the same time, but the women were loud and I joined in almost without realizing it. When, at the end, they joined hands in a circle to thank each other for the evening, they reached out and drew me in.

Rabbi Shefa Gold, who leads the monthly chant circle at Nahalot Shalom, was described to me as the country’s leading practitioner of Jewish chanting. Gold was too modest to confirm the accuracy of that designation, but it’s fairly clear there’s no real competitor for the title. Chanting may not yet have taken off as the next fad in Jewish spirituality, but those who are leading such groups across the country have most likely studied with her.

The video is still a few days off. If you can’t wait, there are some MP3s of Gold’s stuff on her website. 

Recommended from JTA