Like a Braided Candle: Songs for Havdalah
Havdalah (literally 'separation') is the name given the ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of the new week. The ceremony is performed using a cup of wine, sweet spices, and a braided candle with multiple wicks. Havdalah has been called one of the most beautiful and inspiring of all Jewish rituals. Some view the many strands of the braided candle as representing the many types of Jews in the world, each of whom is part of a people that is strongest when it's parts are woven together in harmony. This debut CD marks the culmination of more than three years of work. It was inspired by a tradition established by my paternal grandmother. Every Saturday evening after Sabbath each of her children and grandchildren would call her to wish her (in Yiddish) a 'gute voch und a gezunte voch und a mazeldiche voch und a parnosehdiche voch und a hatzlachadiche voch' -- a good week, and a healthy week, a lucky week, a successful week' and to hear her wish us the same in return. The fifth song on this CD sets these wishes to music in her memory. While there are many CD's of Sabbath music, this is the only available collection (to my knowledge)devoted entirely to the music of havdalah. It contains songs from the Sephardic and Ashkenazic traditions, in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Ladino. Each song presents a different facet of a rich and enduring liturgical and musical culture. Gail Javitt got her start performing Jewish music when, as a young child her parents made her stand up on a chair at a synagogue luncheon and sing the Shabbat zemer 'Ki Eshmera Shabbat.' Despite this inauspicious start, Gail went on to sing for many years in the Ramaz lower school and upper school choirs and later, with the Zamir Chorale of Boston. She has studied voice for two decades, most recently with fabulous vocal coach Cate Frazier-Neely.