We all know the power of an old song to trigger vivid memories that seem to transport us back in time and space. A song blends many different notes together to create the perfect harmony. Similarly, it is a song that changed everything for me and my three brothers, creating lasting memories as I joined with three special sisters. It was a moving song that my sisters shared with me on our family Whatsapp Chat that evoked precious memories of my past and touched my soul once again.
I remembered when I was in grade 11, we were joined by High Schools from around the world at our Annual Convention in Brooklyn, NY. During the memorable weekend, each school presented their talents. The Montreal Beth Rivkah School was known for having the most beautiful choir every year, and Racheli and Ziva Katzenberg were among the choir heads and lyric-writers of the songs. That year they had planned a special song about Modesty, called “Three Malachim Came”, which was inspired by a discussion with their mother, several weeks before she passed away. The sisters did not attend that year’s Convention, due to her untimely passing. But before the Montreal choir sang, they opened with a dedication to Bracha Chaya Katzenberg o”bm and I was moved to tears.
After hearing so much about the girls at the performance, I assumed that their widowed father was probably a wonderful person. As a result, I suggested to my mother to consider meeting their father from Montreal. This idea took off and thank G-d, they got married less than a year later.
We became a blended family and I was welcomed into a world of song and harmony. Their Shir Hamaalos melody, sung every Shabbat in the family’s traditional tune, was the highlight at the conclusion of every meal, with each sister singing a beautiful harmony accompanied by our Daddy, an expert Chazzan. My new family taught me the incredible power of song to uplift the heart and soul in every life situation.
My sister, Racheli and I spent three amazing summers together, singing with Jewish girls at CGI Colorado, CGI Rochester and CGI Kharkov, Ukraine. Of course, Racheli always led the stunning camp choirs. We also began our teaching career together, as grade 6 teachers in Beth Rivkah Montreal, and used song to teach many lessons to our Bat Mitzvah aged students. Our lives blended together in so many ways as friends, counselors, teachers and of course sisters.
Twenty years later, we all have children Thank G-d and we are living in all different parts of the world. Daddy and my three sisters spent Pesach together for the first time in many years. Daddy wrote on our family Whatsapp chat: “Singing together once again was very emotional and brought tears to our eyes. It brought back thoughts of not only our lives together but also what is was like in my parent’s house and even thoughts of what it must have been like in my grandparents’ house who all sang these same Jewish songs going back many generations.”
Since I couldn’t spend Pesach with them, I requested that they record the Shir Hamaalot song. G-d Bless Daddy and my singing sisters for recording this musical masterpiece and preserving this for generations. Listening to the Shir Hamaalot again flooded our hearts and minds with so many wonderful memories and reminded me to Thank G-d for blending our families together in harmony.
Women and girls, please tune in to hear the Katzenberg SistersShir Hamaalot Acapella song on Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 8:00 PM ET at our monthly Jewish Girls Unite Virtual Chodesh Iyar Celebration. Connect to role models of our past and present. Unite with Jewish sisters from around the world. We can’t wait to greet you!