A song for this moment comes from a Bat Mitzvah service at Park Avenue Synagogue some years ago. I’ve been listening to it a lot in recent days.


The moment is as sweet as the song is. I love the gentle hand of the cantor (Azi Schwartz) on the back of the young girl (Zoe Cosgrove), who I believe is the rabbi’s daughter. It’s a very singable tune and I really enjoy the call and response nature of the song. The cantor sings:

“Yivarechecha Adonai viyishmirecha” (“May G-d bless you and guard you”), and the congregation is invited to respond with “Kein yahi ratzon” (“May it be His will”).

The cantor then sings,

“Ya’er Adonai panav elecha veechuneka” (“May G‑d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you”) and the congregation, once again, responds with “Kein yahi ratzon.”

The song then goes into a B section with words in English:

“May God bless you and protect you.
May God show you favor and be gracious unto you.
May God show you kindness and grant you peace, and grant you peace.”

Finally we return to the opening tune and one more call and response. The cantor sings,

“Yeesa Adonai panav elecha viyasem lecha shalom” (“May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace”),[1] and one more time the congregation replies with “Kein yahi ratzon.”

This Bat Mitzvah blessing is the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24–26, the blessing Aaron and his sons were to pronounce over Israel:

“The LORD bless you
    and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”

I have found a studio recording of this on an album called L’dor Vador and the individual song can be found here. It’s exciting to see a congregation so alive and their music so important to them that they record it and share it. Because I know this text in Hebrew, I can sing along.

The Bat Mitzvah service wasn’t all serious. The end of the ceremony included this:


I love this because it was clearly a surprise. The cantor appears to be a serious musician who also likes having a good time.

There are two prayers in here. The opening is Ose Shalom

עוֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵינוּ
וְעַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל
וְאִמְרוּ: אָמֵן.

“May the one who creates peace on high bring peace to us and to all Israel. And we say: Amen.”[2] That is followed by Adon Olam.

I don’t speak the language and yet take such delight in this—both the song and the obvious joy in the rabbi’s daughter and the entire congregation. And who doesn’t like taking a song from Hamilton and turning it into a prayer and a moment of celebration with and for a young girl at a milestone.


[1] Transliteration and translation from https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/894583/jewish/The-Priestly-Blessing.htm

[2] Transliteration and translation from https://www.zemirotdatabase.org/view_song.php?id=234






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