June 4, 2012
When I first started visiting Israel, years ago, I would attend Shabbat (Sabbath) services at Heichal Shlomo, the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. I would hear the prayer for the State of Israel read aloud in an oratorical voice. It would also include the Prayer for the Tzhalal (the Israeli Army). I had never heard Avinu Shebashamayim done musically. About 24 years ago, I decided to compose a melody for this prayer in celebration of Israel’s 40th Anniversary. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that this melody would become such a powerful force within the Jewish community, transcending all denominations and all ages, throughout the entire Jewish world.
When we recite this prayer on Shabbat morning, we pray to HaShem that the leaders of our Jewish State should have the courage and strength to protect our homeland and to keep it secure and free of war. Every time we hear the news about a terrorist act and possibility of a neighboring enemy on the verge, I’m sure we all sigh and say to ourselves, I pray to God that Israel stays safe. When I wrote this piece, I sat at the piano, as I always do, trying to really feel the meaning of the words. I wanted to bring the words to life. I wanted to create an all-encompassing spiritual and meaningful experience for the worshipper.
Astonishingly, more than two decades later, I get hundreds of emails (I am not exaggerating … hundreds!) from people all over the world, sending me links to the never-ending videos and recordings of performances of my Avinu Shebashamayim at celebratory events: memorials, family parties, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, concerts, Israeli government events, etc. I have also been sent YouTube links to performances by college a cappella groups, church choirs, cantors, Jewish choirs, entertainers, and even rabbis (Rabbi Wise … we can do a duet). One of the most unique YouTube videos I saw was of the Moscow Jewish Choir (a fantastic group). You must check this out (see video below)!
A dear friend of mine recently called me and said, “You must be raking it in on royalties $$$.” My dear friends, I must share with you … the only royalty I get is through MITZVOT (good deeds) and I kvel from one ear to the other. That’s royalty enough for me.
A very special video of my Avinu Shebashamayim has gone viral on YouTube and is spreading like wildfire on the Internet, throughout the world. It is of the Chief Cantor of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), Ltc Shai Abramson, an extremely talented and wonderful young cantor that I had the pleasure of being in concert with last year in Tel Aviv. It is an amazing video that makes you feel so much. My Avinu was recently performed by the Yuval Choir and Symphony at the Knesset for Yom Hazikaron.
I was recently asked to write a new melody for an “American Idol” type of Cantorial Contest that took place in Israel a short time ago. I wrote a new melody for “SIM SHALOM.” Who knows … maybe 20 years from now I will be getting hundreds of emails with videos that have gone viral for recordings of this melody too. I would be just as proud and I would kvel. I am truly touched, honored, and extremely proud that my music is spiritually enriching the Jewish world!
See you in Shul.
Cantor Sol Zim
Here is IDF Cantor Shai Abramson singing Sol Zim’s Avinu Shebashamayim:
Moscow Jewish Choir:
Ekaterinburg, Independence day of Russia, 12.8.08, Avinu Shebashamayim by Sol Zim, Arr. R. Shumaher, solo G. Beshitaishvily;
Yom Hazikaron 2012: Avinu Shebashamayim and HaTikvah as background
Yom Hazikaron is Israel’s official memorial day, officially known as Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day. It honors the memory of 22,867 soldiers killed in the line of duty and 3,971 civilian victims of terror. National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel’s top leadership and military personnel. The day opens with a siren the preceding evening at 8:00 pm, given that in the Hebrew calendar system, the day begins at sunset. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything (including driving, which stops highways) and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect. Many religious Jews say prayers for the souls of the fallen soldiers at this time. The official ceremony to mark the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall, and the flag of Israel is lowered to half-staff.
A two-minute siren is heard at 11:00 the following morning, which marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at each cemetery where soldiers are buried. The day officially draws to a close between 7 and 8 p.m. in the official ceremony of Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) on Mount Herzl, when the flag of Israel is returned to full staff.
God in heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel,
bless the State of Israel,
the first flowering of our redemption.
Shield it with Your love, spread over it Your canopy of peace;
provide light and truth to its leaders,
and direct them with Your good counsel.
Strengthen the hands of those who defend our Holy land,
deliver them and crown their efforts with triumph.
Bless our land with peace, O God,
and its inhabitants with lasting joy, and let us say, Amen.
Avinu Shebashamayim tzur yisrael v’goalo
bareich et m’dinat Yisrael reishit tzmi’chat g’ulateinu.
Hagein aleha b’evrat chasdecha
ufros aleha sukkat sh’lomecha;
ush’lach orcha vaamitcha l’rosheha sareha v’yoatzeha,
v’takneim b’eitza tova milfanecha.
Chazeik et y’dei m’ginei eretz kadsheinu,
v’hanchileim Eloheinu y’shuah, v’ateret nitzchon t’atreim