“NONDUAL”— A New Kind of Prayer from the Kirten Rabbi

kirtan rabbi


A New Kind of Prayer

Amos Lassen

I do not usually review CDs but I recently received “Nondual” and think that maybe I should review them all the time—this CD had that effect of me. It is the work of Rabbi Andrew Hahn (Reb Drew) and it combines a variety of tools as it brings Jewish Wisdom to a new place and to “an increasingly global, religious village”. Rabbi Drew has been called

“a Shlomo Carlebach for the twenty-first century and what he does is to bring traditional Jewish liturgy and musical modes into the Kirtan, a popular call-and-response chant technology from India.

Kirtan is also known as Bhajan and is a form of chant developed in India “to heighten participation, communal feeling and communion with the divine”. It uses a formula of singing based on call-and-response. The chant facilitator (here Rabbi Drew) offers something and then the participants return the favor. It is totally participatory and breaks down the barrier between “leader” and “listener.” It is both improvisational and experimental and because of this it is fun for everyone.

Jewish worship has always included chanting and meditation but the way Rabbi Drew presents this introduces both Torah and Jewish philosophy/spirituality. I was stunned by the beauty of what I heard on this CD and after about the second track I found myself responding to the music as I listened. There is a combination here of the intellectual, the spiritual and the musical and as I listened I felt myself drawn back into liturgy in a way that happens when one surrenders himself to what he hears. Liturgy and prayer have always been important to me but I got a totally different sense of it here.

“Nondual” features the traditional Kedushah as well as a reggae version, the Shema, Ahavah Rabah, Yotzer Or, Havayah and others and both the Hebrew and transliterated texts are included. I find myself at a loss for words in trying to describe what we hear and I totally recommend that you listen to the CD.


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