Blessing: Jewish Chants for Blessing and Healing
by Wendie Bernstein Lash, Redwood City, CA: Wendie Lash, 2007
1 CD, 42 minutes
To order, contact Wendie Bernstein Lash at www.wendielash.com
Reviewed by Karen L. Erlichman
Whether you are new to Jewish sacred chanting or already incorporate it into your spiritual practice, Blessing: Jewish Chants for Blessing and Healing will be a wonderful addition to your repertoire. Wendie Bernstein Lash is a member of Spiritual Directors International and presented a chanting workshop at the Spiritual Directors International annual conference in 2006. Lash offers the listener a graced gift of voice, music, and heart.
Blessing is a self-produced CD containing a selection of ten tracks; some are niggunim (wordless melodic chanting), while others are in simple, easy to follow Hebrew for listeners from any faith tradition. Each track also has one minute of silence at the end, allowing the listener to savor the chant through prayer or meditation.
Chanting niggunim or Hebrew chants offers a direct path into sacred connection for people who are not familiar with or fluent in Hebrew, as well as for Hebrew aficionados. For many, the Hebrew chants are especially mystical because the mind is not distracted by recognizing words in English.
Spiritual directors might find Blessing useful in a number of ways. For instance, if they are interested in incorporating chanting into spiritual direction sessions with individuals or groups, they could play a track (or tracks) from this CD. Or, a spiritual guide might learn a new chant and sing or pray it in person as an opening or closing prayer. In addition, directors and directees might want to purchase this CD and incorporate it into their own spiritual practice at home or in community.
Lash has chosen tracks that reflect particular themes such as presence “Hineini,” peace “Shalom,” healing “El Na Refa Na La,” and others with a universal message in the translation. There is also a niggun that was gifted to Lash one night after she had been reading stories of the Ba’al Shem Tov who was a Jewish mystic and the founder of Chasidism. The niggun is easily adapted for harmony, and can be used as an opening chant for retreats, rituals and workshops.
Blessing is not over-produced; Lash’s voice is clear, earnest, and accessible. When listening to this CD, you will feel as if Lash is sitting right beside you, chanting a capella directly from her heart to yours.
Karen Lee Erlichman, MSS, LCSWis a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in San Francisco, California, USA, where she provides psychotherapy and spiritual direction. Her writing has appeared in Tikkun, and online at interfaithfamily.com. She is the Bay area Director of Jewish Mosaic: the National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity.