"Listen, My People"

As CBST considered how to honor Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum’s 32 years of service and leadership, Music Director Joyce Rosenzweig and Cantor Sam Rosen had the idea to commission a new piece of music.

They engaged Jonathan Comisar, a renowned composer and cantor, who has composed for orchestra, chamber music, and chorus for Jewish communities across North America.

His composition, “Listen, My People” for cantor, choir, piano, and oboe, is a truly glorious work. It sets excerpts of Rabbi Kleinbaum’s drashot from over the years, as well as new text written by Comisar himself and inspired by Rabbi Kleinbaum’s teachings. It is a profound and compelling composition.

We offer gratitude to the CBST Community Chorus whose brilliant performance of this piece is a shining example of the power of choral singing. Many thanks to Ellen Gruber, whose magnificent oboe playing filled the space with beauty. And to composer, pianist, and dear friend, Jonathan Comisar, whose magnificent gifts brought a deeply moving gift to Rabbi Kleinbaum and the world. 

“Listen”, My People.” Music and lyrics by Jonathan Comisar, including drashot text by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum.

Choir: The CBST Community Chorus

Piano: Jonathan Comisar

Oboe: Ellen Gruber

We are endlessly grateful to Dr. Rosanne Leipzig and Ora Chaikin, whose generous donation made this commission possible. 


Enjoy the lyrics to “Listen, My People”


Listen, My People

Music: Jonathan Comisar
Text: Quotations from Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, with original lyrics by Jonathan Comisar
Made possible by the CBST Board, supported by Dr. Rosanne Leipzig and Ora Chaikin
in Honor of Rabbi Kleinbaum’s 32 Years

Tov l’hodot L’adonai (It is good to give thanks to the Eternal),
Singing praises to God under a New York sky.
Justice, justice you shall pursue. Make it holy and make it new.
Enlarge the tent, invite them in.
Bless the coming out, bless those who begin.
Listen, my people, “Sh’ma Yisrael.”
Remember, my people, we blazed a new trail.
We followed a vision, we made it our own.
The stone rejected became a cornerstone,
We mourned and we danced, facing the unknown.
Listen, my people, “Sh’ma Yisrael.”
In a world that is broken, how will we prevail?
Wrestling the darkness, surrounded by night, but finding our courage, our soul, and our might.
We were born for this moment to reach for the light.
Listen, my people, “Sh’ma Yisrael.”
Listen for the oboe; try something new.
It’s okay to make a fool of yourself, that’s how we learn.
I don’t separate social justice from spirituality – they are one.
In those years, when young gay men were dying,
There was always Shabbat – Shabbat on Bethune Street.
And no matter our grief, we prayed, we sang, we danced.
The miracle of Chanukah is that somebody had the chutzpah to light the oil.
We have to learn to hold more than one truth in one hand.
Be the reason people believe in the goodness of humanity.
Joy is an act of political and spiritual resistance.
Joy is an act of political and spiritual resistance.
Joy! Yes, joy!
Listen, my people, “Sh’ma Yisrael.”
Listen, my people, the work is not done.
Redemption will come from the gifts of each one.
Now look what we’ve built; now look deep within.
Our blessings abound, our hope will resound.
Let a new generation begin!


For more wonderful settings, be in community with CBST at Kabbalat Shabbat services, Fridays at 6:30 p.m. ET, in person or livestreaming on CBST’s website at cbst.org/livestream. All are welcome. 

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