By Max Zandstein, Class of 2017
For the third year in a row Max Zandstein will perform Kol Nidre on the cello just before the start of the Rutgers Hillel Yom Kippur services. Max is working towards his BSN from the College of Nursing and a minor in music from the Mason Gross School of the Arts.
This evening, right before Yom Kippur begins, the words and tune of Kol Nidre will resonate with listeners. To me, Kol Nidre is a hallmark in Jewish prayer. The words of Kol Nidre, if taken literally, would mean that all my unfulfilled promises which I make this year are regretful and worth abandoning. I choose not to focus on this literal meaning of the words of Kol Nidre and instead listen to the humbling tone of Kol Nidre.
The music of Kol Nidre touches the deepest parts of my soul, the music brings up nostalgic feelings and rings true every year. The melody of Kol Nidre invites me, every-time I hear it, to begin the deep self-reflection thatYom Kippur asks us for; to let go of my expectations and accept and resolve my commitments. The music of Kol Nidre is one that begs for more than just a spoken litany of words. There is a subtle yet very deliberate crescendo as Kol Nidre is repeated a total of three times. When accompanied by music, the prayer is no longer superficial; it is matched with a resonance in a more cerebral realm. It is in that moment that Kol Nidre prepares the mindset of true reflection without judgment. At the beginning of this year I hadn’t thought I’d be where I am. I’m not unhappy with how my goals did not come to fruition – but instead I am elated at how life gave me more to learn.
This will be my third year performing the melody to Kol Nidre for Rutgers Hillel. It is an honor to lead my fellow students into Kol Nidre. In the past, I have played the very commonly known Carlebach nigun, but this year will be different. I will be playing more brooding and dark Louis Lewandowski version. Lewandowski was a Jewish Polish composer who mostly composed synagogal music. At the age of fifteen he became the first Jew to study composition at the Berlin Academy. Before I found the music, I had not yet heard his version. I am really looking forward to sharing this version.
Best wishes for a good year,