Kol Haneshama T’halel Yah! Let every soul praise God!
I love this psalm because it lists all of the various synagogue instruments we use to pray and bless God: horns, harps, timbrels, lutes, cymbals, dancing, and pipes.
If only each of us could play each of these instruments as our vehicle for connecting to God.
Taking a closer at the text, we realize that there is no singular way to reach God. Those of us who are able may choose to express ourselves physically through instruments or dance, or song. However, this is not where the text ends.
Neshama, “soul” also means “breath”! Playing all of these instruments, or expressing ourselves through dance or song is lovely, but concluding the list of instruments with neshama-breath helps us understand that to connect to God, we only need to access our breath.
Our breath becomes a holy instrument: Let all that breathes praise God!
In this instance, something that seems insurmountable or exclusive becomes simple and inclusive. We all can reach the divine. Everyone should be able to access God!!
If only it were this easy for everyone to use their breath to access God and pray with their community.
The many sounds of chanting, prayer music, instruments and surrounding atmospheres in a synagogue can be visually overwhelming, too loud, or distracting for someone with different needs. This prevents many in our community who have a disability or different need, and their families, from participating fully in Jewish sacred life.
Access became just a little bit easier for us at Temple Emanu-El.
I am proud and thrilled to announce that the Jewish Abilities Alliance has awarded our Inclusion Awareness committee a grant to enable congregants or members of the Greater Atlanta Jewish community with special or different needs and abilities pray and partake in Jewish sacred life.
We are creating a sensory sensitive space in the current cry room. We will outfit this space with a variety of adaptive tools that support Jewish prayer and communal life for people with a diverse range of needs, demographics, and ages.The unique location attached to our sanctuary will further facilitate a wholly inclusive community.
In addition to deepening connections with those in our synagogue community, we will collaborate with various organizations that serve our special needs communities in Metro Atlanta.
It is our vision to continue to be a sacred place for anyone who wishes to engage in Jewish prayer and Jewish life.
May we all use our breath to praise God!