Imagine that you've had a grueling week, and theoretically you know that the Shabbat Spice and Spirit are supposed to revive you and grant you an extra soul.
You know that Bsamim (Spices) is slated to lead Kabbalat Shabbat services and perform at Friday night dinner and you think, very clever; you think, try me!
It’s only minutes until the perfectly blended harmonies, sung with real kavanah, work their magic. Everything else falls away and you float on top, buoyed by sheer and sincere gorgeousness. You wish it would never end. And it doesn’t because a festive dinner follows with traditional and exotic zemirot and serenades of requested melodies (secular, too) at each table-strolling minstrel style.
Shabbat day offers an unforgettable Mussaf. (One congregant remarked: “I love our Chazzan, but imagine being transported like this every Shabbat!”) The congregational Kiddush offers another venue. Again the incredibly talented and charismatic Bsamim singers entertain informally and charm their way into the hearts of young and old alike, who are invited to join them in singing and sing on and on. Once when a hospital visit followed Kiddush, we asked Bsamim if they would mind accompanying us to hospice to visit two very ill patients. They excitedly joined and then sang to the patients in their own Ashkenazic and Sefardic traditions. The visit was almost unbearably sweet for the patients, their family members, for us and for the members of Bsamim, who later thanked us profusely remarking that this experience was definitely one of the high points in their careers.
At the post-Shabbat melava malka, the incredible versatility of Bsamim is apparent as they add instrumental accompaniment to their renditions of soulful and rollicking Simcha melodies, original compositions, American pop tunes and Israeli favorites.
It’s nearly as hard to leave this last appearance of Bsamim as it is to bid Shabbat farewell. You hoped that the Shabbat Spice and Spirit would revive you and temporarily grant you an extra soul. The surprise was that Bsamim has staying power, and the new week continues to sparkle with those memories!
Rabbi Paul and Faye Silton