The spiritual power of music is well-recognized. On Friday afternoons in Israel, some supermarkets are filled with the sounds of Sabbath songs, and in the home, children and mothers sometimes sing songs as they get ready for their day of rest.
A cantorial soloist and music director at Congregation Kol Ami in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, Rebecca Schwartz unites her congregants through the medium of music. Her services aim to reach the soul and elevate the prayer experience. As the title of this album, P’tach Libi (Open My Heart) illustrates, Rebecca invites individuals to seek God through song, and to be amenable to opening their hearts to the spiritual.
Her liturgical songs, like “Mizmor Shir”, combine the best of the styles which this virtuoso has perfected, her cantorial voice accompanying a folksy instrumental ensemble. “Tzadik Katamar” is a slow-paced ballad, a simple guitar underpinning her cantor’s serenade.
Not only does Rebecca inspire on the bimah (prayer platform), but she tutors and sings for children, having acted as a director of song for the Ramah Day Camp in her hometown for several summers. Her guitar stylings, blended with the Jewish traditions and words of worship, have inspired children and brought happiness to many. Her impact on the children and the wider Jewish community has been noted by the directors of Ramah, Brian Mitchell and Greg Kellner. “It all is really a tribute to Rebecca and her steadfastness over the years… that there are so many who want to be song leaders and have that opportunity to lead others in Jewish music and worship.”
Rebecca’s influence does not stop there. In 2008 she was given the place of honor at the First International Jewish Music Competition, hosted by the 14th International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam. At the end of a star studded line-up, she was asked to gather all the artists and close the festival with a “Shehecheyanu” prayer.
The music CD Open My Heart contains a wealth of songs to listen to during preparations for Sabbath, or anytime during the week. The variation in the styles and types of music provides a fantastic combination for a diverse experience in song. While the songs are sung predominantly in Hebrew, a few are sung in English, as well.
In addition to the award-winning Open Your Heart, which took second place for Best Jewish Album in the 2009 Just Plain Folks Awards, Schwartz has produced three previous albums. Two of Rebecca’s other albums are recordings of her beloved congregation and are a testimony to the powers of prayer.
The musical stylings of Rebecca Schwartz will captivate you and bring you back to the halls of prayer. Let her haunting voice transport you and inspire you, while bringing you peace and gladness.