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Music at Temple Sinai

Check in for artist spotlights, videos, and song lyrics - curated by Artist in Residence, Dan Yolles.

 After I attended Temple Sinai Preschool, studied in the religious school, became a Bar Mitzvah, and went through confirmation, I never expected to return full circle many years later as your Artist-in-Residence! In fact, music becoming my full-time career was only a dream that I feel deeply blessed I have been able to achieve through my time here. I went to CSU to study music education and after a personal injury I thought that dream was shattered. I left music school worked various jobs in Fort Collins and later moved back to Denver. I felt a shift in my career path direction and obtained my degree in Human Development and Family Relations through CU Denver but was teaching music privately for income. I thought at this point that I would be going into counselling because I wanted to help families facing adversaries.

But music, and specifically Jewish music opportunities kept falling into my lap from teaching in schools and synagogues across the state, to attending conferences and leading Shabbats. I staffed Birthright for many years, bringing a lively and musical Shabbat to the participants on some of the most beautiful places in Israel, as well as pioneered a meditative desert star gaze experience. I have even been blessed with the opportunity to perform my original music at venues and festivals across the country and even in Israel over under the alias Wei-Chi Field.

Once I began attending Jewish musical development conferences like Hava Nashira and Song Leader Bootcamp I not only sharpened my leading and teaching skills but also exposed me to the vast world of Jewish music and befriended the artists that make it. I was humbled and amazed by the sheer talent creativity and musicianship I had discovered. I quickly realized that this is where I belong. Sharing the beauty and magic this music carries, that continues to strengthen my Jewish identity and pride as well as provides infinite avenues to connecting to our liturgy and history brings me wholeness and bliss. I am eager to continue to inspire our community through music and spirituality and share the many flavors of Jewish music with you all!

Jewish Music Spotlight

Joe Buchanan

 

This week’s featured artist hails from Texas and brings a unique twang to Jewish music and prayer, Joe Buchanan. Having discovered Judaism only 6 years ago, Buchanan’s Jewish Americana music has been making its way into communities and camps across the nation in just a few short years.  

Joe was born in Huston and was raised Christian. He spent much of his life on a spiritual journey, hopping from church to church, but not feeling fulfilled or connected. In the 90’s Buchanan worked at a comic shop where he would play on his old guitar and later meet his wife, April. April also attended church as a child, and her mother was Jewish but not observant. She too struggled to fully connect to the church but seemed to have picked up on Joe’s quest for spiritual connection and attended churches around Huston with him. In 1999 they married in a civil ceremony.

In 2011, something shifted in them after visiting the Holocaust museum in D.C. April felt a calling to explore her Jewish heritage and Joe jumped on board. After researching online and adding Jewish symbols and objects to their home, they discovered a synagogue just down the street from their home in Texas to take their Jewish journey to the next level. In 2013 Joe, April and their son converted.

Joe began to find his place in his newly found Jewish community when he started bringing his guitar around the synagogue and was soon urged to attend Song Leader Bootcamp to build his songwriting and Jewish leadership skills. He was so inspired by his experience that he began pouring his heart soul and sound into Jewish liturgy and quickly developed his very own unique service and sound. Buchanan now brings his Shabbat service and workshops to communities across the country.  

Buchanan debuted his first album “Unbroken” in 2016 and features many incredible pieces including Joe’s breathtaking take on “Shalom Aleichem”, “Heneini”, and “Home (Eitz Cayim).” “Home” (lyrics below) is an incredible rendition of Eitz Chayim (Tree of Life) with a beautiful message weaved within it. Upon talking to Joe about this piece, he said “I wrote "Home" to say that no matter if it's your first time here, or you're coming back after a journey away, this is a home that is waiting for you. It's a place all your own, maintained by generations that came before and protected across the ages. The beauty and truth in Judaism brought so much healing for me and I just wanted people to know that it's here for them as well.” 

I look forward to sharing his music with you all and I hope that we can all find our “Home” wherever it may be.

L’Shalom,

Dan Yolles, Artist in Residence


Home (Eitz Chayim) – Joe Buchanan

Come on back, to your Father’s truth 
And return, to the holy root 
Come on back, to the wisdom of home 
And realize that you’re not alone 

Shine your light, like your mother said 
For you were there, when we were led 
There’s a path for us all to see 
Just grab that lamp that’s at your feet 

Eitz Chayim hi, La-macha-zikim bah 
V’tom-cheha me-ushar 

You can hear it, in the breeze 
A story written in the leaves 
Though those branches may wind and weave 
It’s a tree of life, Eytz Chaim 
(Chorus) 
So come inside and find a seat 
We’ll light those lights that usher peace 
You can feel it in your bones 
That growing song that calls you home

Sun, September 15 2019 15 Elul 5779