Chanting Torah

By Linda Lingle

We always feel a great sense of accomplishment when we achieve something we doubted we could—learning to surf, speak a foreign language, fly an airplane, or master a musical instrument. I decided to learn to chant Torah for the same reason you would learn to do one of the skills listed above—to prove that I could achieve something difficult. For a whole year, I had seen others, week after week, walk to the bimah, stand as the Torah was opened, and chant Hebrew words that matched the English I had read for the parshah that week. Some readers had beautiful voices and great articulation. The better they were, the more I doubted it was something I could ever do because I am nearly tone deaf. And, for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how they knew how to pronounce each word since there are no vowels in the Torah. And what was “trope,” anyway? It all became clear during trope class with Temple President Sandy Armstrong and my fellow students. With support from all of them, what had seemed unknowable just months earlier became another notch on my achievement belt. But this skill gave me so much more than bragging rights—it gave me a connection to my fellow Jews, at Sof Ma’arav, around the world, and throughout all time. The tradition of reading Torah out loud dates back to the time of Moses, who would read the Torah publicly on Shabbat, festivals, and Rosh Chodesh. Being able to chant Torah is more than a mere skill. It is a chance to connect to who you are, where you came from, and what your obligation is in the world.

Upcoming Events
  1. Rosh HaShanah

    September 29 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  2. Rosh HaShanah Services – September 30

    September 30 @ 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
  3. Rosh HaShanah Services – October 1

    October 1 @ 9:00 am - 12:30 pm
  4. Shabbat Shuva Services

    October 5 @ 9:50 am - 12:00 pm
  5. Book Club – 10/6

    October 6
  • Forbidden Fruit, Rosh HaShanah, and Our Climate Crisis
    According to Hasidic traditions, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, from the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, worked in a deeper way than we usually think about it. It’s not just that after the eating of the fruit we humans could distinguish between good and evil. The test […]
  • Modern Jewish Mystical Masters
    This fall, as part of the Me’ah Select program at Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Natan Margalit will teach a class on the thought, practices and lives of some of the most profound and influential Jewish mystics of the modern era. Building on the earlier mystical traditions of heavenly ascents, Zohar, Lurianic Kabbalah, numerology and early […]