Recently, the Jewish Ledger was kind enough to share the story of a special project I have been working on called “The Shabbat Experience” (“Creating Spiritual Experiences with Music,” Jewish Ledger, Feb. 6, 2015). While I appreciate the coverage, there was a segment in the article about young people and spirituality that inadvertently conveyed the wrong impression.
I am the founder, composer and music director of the New World Chorus and creator of The Shabbat Experience. My passion and all of my projects have had the common theme of bringing people together from diverse backgrounds and faiths through the power of music. In the past four years, I have been fortunate and honored to collaborate with numerous houses of worship, rabbis, cantors, ministers and diverse spiritual leaders who have inspired me, members of the choir and our wonderful community. With their support and guidance I have been able to produce many inspiring community interfaith events. They include: Temple Beth El’s Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Rev. Kate Heichler of Christ the Healer and the Interfaith Council of Southwestern CT, Rev. Dr. Frances Sink of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and Rabbi Jay TelRav of Temple Sinai, who was the first to partner with me in launching The Shabbat Experience.
There was a misunderstanding in the article regarding my views on spirituality. To be clear, I have personally experienced a sense of deep spirituality in ALL of these welcoming and inspiring houses of worship. In creating the Shabbat Experience, it has been my intention to be additive to the sense of community and spirituality that exists. The Shabbat Experience is designed to bring people together from diverse backgrounds to experience the beauty of Shabbat through music and reflection. My hope is that when people attend they experience a profound sense of belonging to community, feel known and cared for and, through these connections, nourish their spiritual selves.
There is no one recipe for spirituality. It abounds within us and around us. How and when we plug into that spirituality is part of each individual’s spiritual journey. The Shabbat Experience is my contribution to the rich array of spiritual options we are all so blessed to have available to us.
Beth Styles, Stamford