Pure Joy! – The Hanukkah Simcha Band!

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Today’s WELL column in The New York Times (12/20/16) talks about how running makes the brain work in surprising ways. Similarly, it says that “Playing a musical instrument, for instance, requires refining a variety of fine motor skills, while also engaging memory, attention, forward planning and many other executive functions of the brain. So it’s not surprising that past brain-scanning studies have found that expert musicians tend to have greater coordination between areas of the brain associated with different kinds of thinking, as well as sensory processing and motor control, than do people who have never picked up a bassoon or other instrument.”

The Times article forgot one important thing. Playing a musical instrument is pure joy (and some practice, too). The multi-generational Hanukkah Simcha Band proved this with its glorious sound at our community Hanukkah party on Sunday, Dec. 18. Whether you were playing, singing, dancing or listening to the gorgeous music, it was exhilarating.

IMG_0394Hanukkah is the Festival of Light. The array of Hanukkiyot in the sanctuary certainly brought light and warmth to our community. I think the Simcha Band also radiates light through its music and cooperative spirit.

For this concert, our musicians ranged in age from almost 10 to Hanukkah Simcha Band  2016 470ish. We welcomed new members as musicians and vocalists. Thanks to Alex Lefkowitz, Lily Lucey (our new JLC music teacher), Siona Ely and Rob Brumer for adding their special talents. By the way, did you know that Rob played his great-grandfather’s alto sax? (I’m sure there is a story waiting to be told about that instrument.)

We warmly welcomed Sayydah Garrett on clarinet. She is a Muslim woman, living in Glen Ridge, who heard about the band and Hanukkah Simcha Band  2016 3joined us in the spirit of friendship. We thank Howie Erichson, who at the last minute, substituted on drums for Sam Lasiter (not that anyone can really replace Sam!). From the bottom of our hearts, we thank returning musicians and vocalists: Zeke Snyder, Mike Tizhgarten, Elliot Lasiter, Eli Fellus, Talia Fellus, David Halbfinger, and Andy Silikowitz.

Hanukkah Simcha Band  2016 5We are grateful for the help of Rabbi Greenstein, Marge, Heather, John, Kevin, Sarah Steindel and all the staff and volunteers who make the band happen. As always, a heartfelt YASHER KOACH to Conductor Mark Weinstein. His patience, encouragement and professionalism bring out all the light in the Hanukkah band.

And about that bassoon player mentioned in The New York Times article? We welcome him or her to the Purim Simcha Band.

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Merrill Silver

Merrill Silver

Merrill Silver is a long-time member of Shomrei. She can often be seen at the piano as part of the Simcha Band, a cross-generational musical ensemble she organizes at Shomrei. She and her husband Andy host "Minyan @ Home" the Wednesday night Maariv service at their home. She has tutored many of Shomrei's B'nai Mitzvah kids in leading services and chanting Torah.
Merrill Silver

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