A Niggun Can Be a Ladder to the Heavens

February 22, 2022

“A Niggun can be a ladder to the heavens.” If you’d been at Mirowitz yesterday, you’d know that this quote by Rabbi Kalonymous Kalmish Shapira is true. Your children danced, designed and sang to the repeated melody of a niggun, a uniquely Jewish wordless melody that gets progressively louder as it is repeated, raising our spirituality and connection to the heavens.

It was Carol Rubin Day, our annual day of Jewish music, study, and the arts. Every year, we embrace the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the study of Jewish content, and to create a deeper connection to it through the arts.

It’s a powerfully effective format that celebrates the life work of Carol Rubin, our beloved former Director of Jewish Life, who is passionate about engaging in the creative process to help students relate to abstract concepts, to one another and to our tradition. Morah Carol joined us to kick off the day with a story and discussion.

The day was highlighted by a Niggun workshop with guest artist, Eitan Kantor. Eitan is an exquisite Jewish musician, an accomplished composer, an expert in the history of Jewish music, and (this makes us rather proud) an alum of our school.

Using the image on our t-shirts, students considered niggun as a ladder to reach for holiness, for bettering ourselves and for reaching toward our dreams.

As the melodies rose deeper and stronger, students closed their eyes and used it as an opportunity to focus on what really matters to them. They reflected on how music can be used to change your mood, temperament and focus.

Throughout the day, students engaged in a variety of artistic expressions including creating sculpture representing the ABCBA ladder of niggun and in Judaic studies using paper, natural materials and glue. K-3 students danced traditional Yiddish dance movements to a niggun that the school studied yesterday. Students were artists, drawing, assembling collages and painting to explore the emotional content of niggun. First graders even outlined bodies, listened to a niggun and drew colors within the body to represent how they personally felt the niggun in their bodies.

The gifts of a Mirowitz childhood are profound. Where else would you have the opportunity to climb the ladder of this Jewish genre of music, and experience the way it carries us upwards toward holiness.

May your Shabbat be a ladder to the heavens.

Shabbat Shalom,

Morah Cheryl and Reb Scott