38. Angela Buchdahl
The crowds of 600-plus at Central Synagogue’s Friday night services in Manhattan are credited in some measure to the voice and presence of its cantor of five years, Angela Buchdahl, who is also an ordained rabbi. She was the first Asian-American member of the Jewish clergy and the first woman to become both a cantor and a rabbi. Emblematic of the changing face of Judaism, Buchdahl was featured in last year’s PBS film, 18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre, and has been invited by HUC, JTS, and Wexner to lecture on how to recharge services. She is part of a select rabbinic leadership team, led by Jonah Pesner (#25), that is setting the agenda for community organizing in the Reform movement. (NEW)
A number of years ago I was leaving the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., when my attention was wrested by a video testimonial on a large screen on the wall. A survivor was testifying to his story.
He told of how his work detail in a Nazi labor camp was exhausted before Yom Kippur day, the holiest day in Judaism. Suddenly the lights went out in the mine they were working in, the guards were forced to call a break, and the inmates saw it as a heavenly sign.
First one, then another began singing the Kol Nidre, the prayer that begins the Yom Kippur observance. Some knew the words, many hummed haltingly, but all chanted in unison.
“How,” I asked myself, “did one prayer, the Kol Nidre, become so important to one people, the Jews?”
Finding the answer led to "18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre," a documentary that premiered on public television in the fall of 2010 to very positive reviews, including those on this page.
It aired in 37 markets, among them New York City, where it was a pledge special, as well as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, Baltimore, Miami, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and Denver.
Overall, it reached literally across the country, from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Juneau, Alaska.
Most important, in California it was viewed approvingly by the daughter of the survivor in that Holocaust Museum video. "It is an incredibly moving piece," she said. "It is a story I wish all students were required to see at school. I know my dad would have loved it."
–Allen Oren, producer and director of “18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre”
Other remarks of approval about “18 Voices Sing Kol Nidre”
Cantor Angela Warnick Buchdahl chants the Kol Nidre as the Senior Cantor at Central Synagogue in New York City.
the information below is only excerpts from the Central Synagogue's blog, linked at
Central Synagogue's Civil Rights Journey
SUNDAY, APRIL 10, 2011
After just returning from our trip, it is important to look at the goals we had going into it and then to reflect on the degree to which those goals were reached. We at Central Synagogue believe that some of the best learning for teenagers is experiential. As was mentioned a number of times throughout our journey, it is possible to learn a great deal about a topic from text books, articles and videos. However, to stand in the places where history happened, and to speak to those who were involved, escalates the experience to an entirely different level. We also believe that the South is a setting in which experiential education can take place in a way that it will serve to deepen or increase one's Jewish identity at home. And lastly, we strive to create a sense of community where students are able to develop deep connections with their peers, teachers and clergy members. In all of these cases, as shown by the students' reflections throughout the trip, we consider this trip to have been a great success.
The students walked away having a newfound understanding of Judaism's value of standing up for those living embittered lives. In our wrap-up session, Billy expressed to the group the fact that the world is constantly changing. He challenged them to put themselves in the middle of change — "will you be one of the ones to watch change happen, or will you be a piece of the puzzle that will work to make the change happen." (see link to video below)
Judging by the response, we are confident in saying that our 25 participants will be (continue to be) powerful agents of change and justice. Speaking for all of the adults on the trip, we could not have been more proud of the maturity and critical thinking that we witnessed while traveling together on this very special journey.
Reverend Woods in Birmingham, Alabama
Their words will express the information they learned, the emotions they felt, and the different type of connection that was present.
Enjoy the gifts that they received today:
Today when we talked to Rev. Wood, he put me in his shoes and brought me back to 1963 when dogs were nagging at black men’s shirts and when firemen sprayed water at them just because they were protesting for their rights. Walking in the park brought me back to their time and imagining all the hate going on. While singing I got goose bumps and every time I think about the hate and the cruelty, I may feel a tear coming down my cheek. Today I’m thankful for experiencing all that I did and listening to two real victims of the movement. When I leave tomorrow, I will remember the spirit and history of Rev. Wood and the power and message in his voice.
|Synagogue in Selma|
|Group shot on the steps of a community church in Selma|
|Civil Rights Freedom wall|
|Martin Luther King, Jr. statue. Ms. Bland said she didn't like how it said "I had a dream" — it should read "I have a dream."|
|Our group preparing to walk over the Edmund Pettus bridge, just as Ms. Bland did in her youth.|
|Our Shabbat morning service after walking over the bridge|