Selihot Series: 5781/2020

Ben Adam Mah Lecha Nirdam / Let’s Wake Up! 

This title of a beautiful song for this time of year is our invitation to join Hazzan Ramón and guest leaders each weeknight during the month of Elul at 8 p.m. for a 20-minute dip into Selichot, the prayers of forgiveness.  We will examine individual prayers from the High Holiday liturgy, sample the rich tradition of piyutim/poetry, and enjoy some modern Hebrew songs from Israel.

Dedicated to the Memory of Rabbi Mordejai Edery

Sunday 8/23, 8 PM

Ben adam ma lekha nirdam

בֶּן אָדָם מַה לְּךָ נִרְדָּם

Oh mortal, why are you still asleep,

wake up and call pleadingly

Pour your prayer and ask for forgiveness

from the Master of the Universe

Hazzan Ramón Tasat

Ramón Tasat is the Cantor of Shirat HaNefesh (Song of the Soul), an emerging Jewish congregation in southern Montgomery County, MD. He is also the musical Director of Kolot HaLev, a Jewish Community choir in the Greater Washington area and the past president of Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Ramón has toured Europe with world-renowned Dr. Robert Shaw, and he has participated in international festivals on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to television and radio appearances, Ramón has been the recipient of numerous awards including a National Endowment of the Arts Grant.
Monday 8/24, 8 PM

Adonai be kol shofar

Lucy declares: I truly love the Shofar (ram’s horn) which reverberates in my soul each time I hear it during the High Holiday service. (It’s my favorite part!)

During this session on the 24th,I’ll be reciting a poem, offering some remarks and playing an amazing 12-minute shofar concert that I found on Youtube.

Lucy Steinitz

Lucy Steinitz has been a member of Fabrangen, off and on, since the mid-1970s.  She was Executive Director of Jewish Family Services in Baltimore for 15 years and then moved to Africa to do development work with her family for 17 years.  She returned to the US to work for Catholic Relief Services and recently moved to Silver Spring.
Tuesday 8/25, 8 PM

Adir ve naor / Mi she ‘ana

Like the movie and literary savants of today, the great rabbis and payytanim (liturgical poets) saw themselves in constant reference to a holy canon of texts and stories. They built their prayers out of allusions to these sacred scenes. Beginning and ending with singing, our session will examine how the piyyutim "Adir VeNaor" and "Mi She’Anah" explore many of these scenes and provide connection points for us to grow closer to G-d in our selihot.

Hazzan Matt Austerklein

Matthew Austerklein is the Hazzan of Beth El Congregation in Akron, OH. He is a writer, musician , and scholar focusing on the religious meaning of Jewish musical forms. Hazzan Matt is active in the Cantors Assembly and is the editor of two books, including Ilu Finu: A Cappella for Jewish Prayer (2019 - This winter he completed a research fellowship at Oxford University, studying Ashkenazi cantorial thought in the early modern period. He is married to his clergy (& life) partner, Rabbi Elyssa Joy Austerklein, with two children.
Wednesday 8/26, 8 PM

Ahot Ketana - The Little Sister

"May this old year conclude, with all its curses … let this new year begin, with all its blessings,” proclaims the traditional Rosh Hashanah poem - and this year we can relate to the sentiment perhaps more than ever before. Join Hazzan Natasha Hirschhorn for an informal sharing and discussion of some musical settings of this text from almost 750 years ago, that we still recite each Selihot season.

Hazzan Natasha Hirschhorn

Hazzan Natasha J. Hirschhorn is the author of numerous liturgical and secular compositions and an accomplished performer and recording artist, who has been featured as a singer, pianist, conductor and composer at congregations, music festivals, and in concert halls throughout the country, including Jazz at Lincoln Center; Toronto Jewish Music Festival and the Curtis Institute of Music, among others.  She has served as the Music Director of Congregation Ansche Chesed in New York City since 2004. She is also the founding conductor of the AC Jewish Community Chorus, Shirei Chesed, and the Brooklyn Jewish Community Chorus, Shir Chadash. A native of Ukraine, Natasha has studied musicology, piano, and composition at Moscow’s Gnessin State Musical College (now the Gnessin Russian Academy of Music) and the Kyiv Conservatory. 

Ordained by the Academy for Jewish Religion in 1999, Cantor Hirschhorn has served on the faculty of both the H.L. Miller Cantorial School at the Jewish Theological Seminary and at the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at the Hebrew Union College. She is the Music Director and Conductor of the 

JTS Cantorial School choir and has recently collaborated with the Grammy nominated Western Wind vocal ensemble.
Thursday 8/27, 8 PM

Shema’ Kolenu/Hashivenu

Shema’ Kolenu is a cry from the heart, especially for the most vulnerable among us.  Hashivenu asks to bring us back to the way things were.  How do these poignant verses resonate during the pandemic we're living through?  We'll examine the words as well as several melodies for Shma Koleinu that differ in their attitude and atmosphere.

Rabbi Gilah Langner

Gilah Langner serves as rabbi of Shirat HaNefesh in Chevy Chase MD, and of Kol Ami in Arlington VA.
Sunday 8/30, 8 PM

Adon haSelihot

Adon haSelihot is probably the most famous and expected liturgical poem in Sephardic communities. Such is its power that it has become an essencial in any night of selihot.

Moriah Ferrús
Barcelona, Spain

Moriah Ferrús holds a Bachelor Degree in Hebrew Philology and PhD Candidate in History of Art and Musicology with the research project "The Liturgical and Musical Legacy of the Scuola Catalana of Rome 1532-1908".

She is the Founder and President of the Nova Escola Catalana, Association for the Preservation of Catalan Jewish Legacy and Former Director of Education and Liturgy of Atid Jewish Community of Catalonia.

Moriah Ferrús lives in Barcelona, Spain
Monday 8/31, 8 PM

‘Al Kol Ele - N. Shemer

Shlomi Shabat

"Al Kol Eleh" by Naoemi Shemer. 

Let's discover "all these things" in our life for which, with gratitude, we ask Divine protection and Blessings in this upcoming year. We will dive into the meaning of this beloved song, and we will use its poetry to find our own words, as we prepare to pray in our current pandemic times.

Evelyn Goldfinger
Miami FL

Evelyn Goldfinger is a performer, playwright, and educator. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Evelyn created Torahtron, a professional Jewish educational theatre ensemble that engages audiences through meaningful and fun shows and videos. Evelyn serves as a Cantorial Soloist in Beth Torah in North Miami and as Guest Cantorial Soloist in Temple Beth Israel for the High Holidays.
Tuesday 9/1, 8 PM

Shomer Israel

The discussion will focus on what it means to be a remnant and whether and how the description fits.

Darius Sivin

Dr. Darius Sivin is an occupational health and safety professional for the United Auto Workers and a member of Shirat Hanefesh and other DC Jewish Communities. He has taught at Shirat, Fabrangen Havurah, Fabrangen Cheder, the Jewish Study Center and the National Havurah Committee Summer Institute and Chesapeake retreat.
Wednesday 9/2, 8 PM


Within these two connected piyutim we'll find hints of the beliefs of our earliest ancestors as well as a special plea to G-d that relies on the merits of those same ancestors.

And then - a quick visit to the Book of Job and its answer to the perennial question of why the righteous suffer.


Rabbi Bob Saks

Bob Saks, a retired Conservative ordained Reform rabbi, is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Bet Mispachah in Washington DC, which he happily served as rabbi for 19 years, while also serving as the Assoc. Rabbi of the Columbia Jewish Cong.
Thursday 9/3, 8 PM

Yoga for Teshuva

Yoga for Teshuva taps the techniques of hatha yoga, a physical improvement system designed for spiritual growth, to enhance our efforts at taking stock and making inner change. To get ready, gather an exercise mat, two yoga blankets or thick towels, and a yoga block (or rough equivalent, such as a shoebox). 

For your comfort, avoid a large meal for an hour prior to yoga practice. Wear light, comfortable clothes that allow movement and remove your shoes. 

Finally, and most important, think about a character trait you would like to cultivate at this season of repentance. This will be your private focus for our practice.


Paula Aman

Paula Amann is a Jewish journalist turned medical research writer. She has practiced yoga for over 20 years and is in the final months of a year-long yoga teacher training with Circle Yoga, in Washington, D.C.
Sunday 9/6, 8 PM

El Melekh yoshev ‘al kise rahamim

Hazzan Elías Rosemberg
Boston MA

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Cantor Elias Rosemberg is a graduate of the Cantorial School Bet Asaf, at The Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano.
Since 2007 Cantor Rosemberg is the Hazzan of Temple Emanuel in Newton.
Cantor Rosemberg is the New England Region Chair for the Cantors Assembly.
He’s the president of the AJL (Asamblea de jazanim Lationamericanos).
Elias is past president of the New England Board of Cantors and a cantorial coach at Hebrew College in Boston, MA.
In 2016, he was the recipient of Masorti Olami’s Hiddur Mitzvah award, the first cantor from Latin America to receive this honor.
Monday 9/7, 8 PM

Elohe ‘Oz ‘Et sha’are ratzon

Yehi Ratzon Blessing for the New Year

Kol shanah Nisan Friedman-Amos Barzel MP3

How do we welcome Rosh haShana,

What are our questions, our dreams for the New Year? May we find Teshuvah, the answers to our quests.

Hazzan Tasat

Tuesday 9/8, 8 PM

Hamevorakh Irak

Hamevorakh is an ancient prayer sung by many communities of Sefaradim and Oriental Jews on the first day of Rosh Hashanah.

The text weaves mystical and liturgical elements into a whole fabric worthy of study; it is a meditation on creation.

Hazzan Michael Kasper
Nyack, NY

Cantorial Ordination, Academy for Jewish Religion; M.A. in Jewish Studies, Gratz College; B.S. in Dance Education, George Washington University; M.S.W. in Clinical Social Work, NYU; Psychoanalytic Certification from the New York Center for Psychoanalytic Training

Hazzan Michael Kasper holds a Private practice in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. Michael taught in Hunter College's Post Master's Program in Clinical Social Work for ten years.
Michael is also a past winner of a National Society of Arts and Letters Choreographer's Competition.

Director and choreographer of the Michael Kasper Dance Company for more than ten years.

Author of the paper, "The Language of Love" which is published in the book, Controversies On Countertransference.

At the Academy for Jewish Religion, Hazzan Kasper is the Dean of Cantorial Studies and Director of Student Life and Placement as well as a Full-Time Senior Lecturer.
Wednesday 9/9, 8 PM

Ten Lihyot - Miki Gavrielov

We will consider a popular song by one of Israel's premier veteran songwriters, Miki Gavrielov. This song does not purport to be a “S’lihah” but we can learn much by considering it from that angle. Is this what a modern s’lihah would look like?


Rabbi David Greenstein

David Greenstein serves as rabbi of Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair, NJ. He has taught in the US and Israel in rabbinical schools and other places of Torah study. He is the author of Roads to Utopia: The Walking Stories of the Zohar (Stanford, 2014). His art work can be viewed at
Thursday 9/10, 8 PM

A. Pen - A. Argov
Selihot - Leah Goldberg

Gideon Amir

Gideon Amir was born in Holland to holocaust survivors who went to Israel in 1947.

He grew up in Jerusalem and received a Bachelor‘s degree in Mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a master’s degree in Computer Science from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rechovot.While he worked for different organizations first as a computer engineer and then as a manager, he also continuously taught computer science topics at various institutions. In May 2001, he received a master’s degree (with honors) at Baltimore Hebrew University and completed further studies.

He re-directed his passion for teaching from computer science to the teaching of Jewish and Bible subjects at various adult education programs like the Haberman Institute for Jewish Studies and Osher (Johns Hopkins University). He also teaches in synagogues, churches, and other organizations.
Sat. Sep 12 8.30PM

Selihot Ashkenaz

Rabbi Langner & Hazzan Tasat

Sunday 9/13, 8 PM


Dancing with Darkekha

"Grant relief to the driven leaf."

Some of us feel like dust and ashes and this (partial) piyyut offers us compassion.

Please join us in movement and singing.

Bracha Laster

Bracha (Barbara) Laster is a gardener, researcher, author, and teacher.

For 20 years, she was a reading teacher in rural Florida, the Appalachian region of Ohio, a small town in Massachusetts, and multiple secondary schools in Virginia.

As a Professor of Education for several decades, she has primarily taught teachers to become reading specialists and served educators in multiple countries.

She has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters, but family, friends, and her beloved Fabrangen community are her primary focus.
Monday 9/14, 8 PM

HaAderet ve haEmuna

Ha-aderet ve ha emunah leads us to a sense of awe before the Eternal Life-Force in the universe, by praising with love and admiration the wonder of the Universe and of Life itself.
Written somewhere around the year 1,000 between Northern Italy and Germany, it was set to many tunes, as it was embraced in both Sephardic and Ashkenazi traditions. The tune we'll learn is an adapted Yemenite melody.

Rabbi Ariel Edery

Rabbi Ariel Edery, who received a few guitar lessons from Hazan Tasat back in 1977, learned the beauty of Piyut by singing them at his father's - Rabbi Mordechai Edery - synagogue.
Graduated from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and ordained Rabbi at Hebrew Union College, served in communities in Argentina, Mexico, Spain, and now in North Carolina. While serving Beth Shalom congregation for 16 years, he also teaches Rabbinic students at the new Reform Rabbinic School for Latin-America, is active in community organizing for social justice, and enjoys Jewish music and poetry in his free time.
Tuesday 9/15, 8 PM

Ki ha adam etz ha sade - N. Zakh – Sh. Hanokh

Ki ha adam etz ha sade, “humans are like the tree in a field”, from Deuteronomy 20:19 inspired the modern day Hebrew poet, Natan Zakhk to search for the meaning of this verse.  He wrote a poem about it and Shalom Hanoch put the words to music.  We will hear the moving music and sing together as we discover why the poem is so relevant for us today.

Poem and words, attached.

Roanne Pitluk

Roanne Pitluk is an active member of Shirat HaNefesh and participates with her choir Kolot HaLev, the Jewish Community Choir of the Greater Washington area.  She is married to Dr. Ramón Tasat, has two grown children and three grandchildren.  Roanne has an accounting practice in Silver Spring Maryland.
Wednesday 9/16, 8 PM

Agadelkha - R. Abraham Ibn ‘Ezra

The great Bible commentator and poet Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra wrote Agadelkha. The terse poetry of this piyut, with not a word wasted, helps us to contemplate the nature of the Divine – to know before Whom we stand.


George Franklin

George Franklin, a native of the Washington, DC area, is a retired accountant and has been a member of Shirat HaNefesh since 2011. George enjoys text study and participating in leading Shabbat and holiday services. He and his wife Sandi, also a DC native, make their home in Rockville, MD.
Thursday 9/17, 8 PM

Ptah Lanu Sha’ar

R. Tasat

Timhal Li

'Omer Adam
Yom Kippur is coming to an end, the sha’re shamayim, the gates of heaven are closing.
Join me as we hear beautiful melodies that capture our last attempt for teshuvah.

Hazzan Tasat

Friday 9/18
6.30 PM

‘Erev Rosh haShana

Rabbi Langner & Hazzan Tasat

Monday 9/21, 8 PM

Ana bekorenu

Aside from looking at the interesting references that the payyatan (author of the piyyut) has chosen from the Tanach, we will explore the two main concepts of God's hearing our prayers and God's forgiveness that are its essence. What do these concepts mean and how might we experience them in our lives?

Rabbi Gerry Serotta

Rabbi Gerry Serotta is Executive Director Emeritus of the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington following upon his recent retirement. He served at various colleges as a Jewish Campus Chaplain for 28 years and as congregational Rabbi including Shirat HaNefesh in Chevy Chase, MD. for 14 years.

He was the co-founder of Clergy Beyond Borders and of a number of Jewish social justice organizations including New Jewish Agenda, and Rabbis for Human Rights, North America.
Tuesday 9/22, 8PM

Mishehu E. Manor-Matti Caspi

On this autumn Day of Awe, we'll reaffirm the continuity of Life beyond falling leaves and shorter days with two classic Israeli hymns: the intimate "Mishehu" (Someone) and the joyous and even defiant "Hai" (I'm Still Alive!) sung by 600 Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

Hai - Avraham Toledano and Uri Kariv 

Nan Wellins

Nan Wellins is a writer, editor, Hebrew translator, and former mezzo with the Israel National Choir and the Israel Opera. She directs foundation relations and communications for the Israel Scholarship Education Foundation (ISEF) and loves helping Israelis from marginalized communities be the first in their families to earn degrees.
She joined Shirat HaNefesh in 2008 and served six years on its board, including stints as chair and vice-chair. Mom to new college grad Ari, she lives in Silver Spring with husband Michael, dog Tara, and Rico the cat, who often attends Shirat HaNefesh Zooms. 
Wednesday 9/23, 8 PM

laBerit haBet
Ki hineh ka homer

In the Yom Kippur ‘Arvit service, immediately before we recite the selihot prayers, we recite this remarkable piyyut.  Its words speak to me as they reflect our partnership with G-d and our potential for creativity with a number of artistic materials.  

At the same time, the text reminds us of our vulnerability,  to recall our covenant and not to heed the accuser.

In this session, we will explore the contrasting themes of this rich piyyut.

Rhonda Weiss

Rhonda Weiss grew up in Philadelphia where she attended college and law school at the University of Pennsylvania.She relocated to the Washington, DC area in 1980 to work as an attorney with the Federal government where she is still employed.

Rhonda, who has been blind from birth, was one of the first blind children to be taught Braille in the Philadelphia public schools outside of a residential setting. She learned to read Hebrew Braille when she was nine years old. Rhonda is intensely devoted to our liturgy and its music, and is an active member of the Fabrangen Havurah, where she is a service leader for both Shabbat and high holiday services. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and has two adult children.
Thursday 9/24, 8 PM

Yafutzu oyvekha - Rome

Yafútzu oyevekha holds a strange story similar to that of the Ashkenazi text of Kol Nidre.

This liturgical hymn, sung at the conclusion of the Yom Kippur, has been blessed with a solemn and touching melody, one of the most beautiful pieces of music in the Roman Jewish tradition.

Hazzan Tasat

Sunday 9/27, 6:30 PM

‘Erev Yom Kippur

Join me to sing some of the most iconic selihot during the night of Kol Nidre.

Hazzan Tasat

Monday 9/28 4:15 PM

Yom Kippur Afternoon-Selihot Review

A review of our Selihot season with comments from many of the contributors.

Hazzan Tasat