I’m Billy Kaplan and I wrote “Shabbat Sweet,” a Friday night Sabbath service of ancient Jewish prayers set to original melodies. While these lively, soulful melodies are completely original, I am often told they seem familiar to those who know the traditional prayers.
Some people have said it was the most enjoyable service they ever attended. Others, who as teenagers at Jewish summer camp joyously welcomed Shabbat singing three-part harmony, said “Shabbat Sweet” was the most inspiring service they have attended since camp. Still others have said the service was “exquisite,” “crazy-awesome-amazing,” “very moving,” and “beautiful."
Most people sing along the first time they hear the service.
And now, with your help, I will record these melodies with the Emmy-award-winning producer Steve Rashid and members of the world-famous Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. We are determined that the recording will capture the rich, soaring spirit of the service as I have been sharing it live with congregations for the last two years.
First Recording from the Forthcoming Album
How “Shabbat Sweet” was Formed
About a decade ago, after marriage, kids, and building my own mental health practice as a Clinical Social Worker, I picked up a baritone ukulele after a life-time of singing and playing various instruments. I began to write songs.
Then, a couple of years ago, my daughter, Hannah, was getting ready for her Bat Mitzvah. I drew inspiration from the beauty of her preparations, took a melody and chord progression I’d been playing around with, and wrote a new version of Adon Olam, the final prayer in most Jewish services.
When I had written melodies for most of the Friday night Sabbath service, I met with my dear friends, Rabbi Brant Rosen and Cantor Howard Friedland of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) in Evanston, Illinois. I played them each of the melodies from "Shabbat Sweet" and their reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
With great support from the community I was able to share the service with the incomparable Maxwell Street Klezmer Band on June 3, 2012. I was honestly very nervous to be sharing an original service with my congregation AND to be fronting the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. What chutzpah! But their reactions made it amply clear that I had MOVED them. And deeply.
Shabbat Sweet Live with the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band
The Road to Recording
A few months later a member of the congregation stopped me in the hallway and asked a simple question: “when are you going to record ‘Shabbat Sweet’?” Somewhat flippantly I said, “When I can raise the money to pay for it.” His reaction was interesting: he raised an eyebrow.
Soon after, I got an e-mail from him saying that he and his wife were interested in supporting me to record “Shabbat Sweet” and asking if I would be interested in meeting him to talk more about it. Would I ever!
He was quite serious about supporting the project. First, he introduced me to Steve Rashid, the Emmy-award winning composer, producer and arranger. Then, he and his wife committed $5,000 toward the project.
And those funds allowed me to record the first prayer of the service, Dodi Li, a love song based on the Song of Songs. Click above to listen to it.
And This Brings Me to You!
Please be a part of recording “Shabbat Sweet” in its entirety and bringing these melodies to a wider audience. While I could just fumble my way to recording these prayers in my basement, your commitment to this project will create an enduring recording that many people will be able to embrace and be moved by.
Risks and challenges
I have all of the music written and well rehearsed, and I know that I have an amazing producer and musicians to work with; so I am confident the creative part of the project is well at hand. Time, I fear, is the greatest challenge for this project: I'll be recording it while continuing to be a husband, father, and Clinical Social Worker who works for a living. Of course, if ya'll are VERY generous, I may be able to take some time off to record AND take care of my responsibilities!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)