This year’s High Holiday theme: Come, Whoever You Are

“Come, come, whoever you are…”

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

As we move deeper into the month of Elul, I want to highlight the first song in the big High Holiday music post I shared a while back: this year’s theme song for the Days of Awe at CBI.

These are words from the Persian poet and Sufi mystic known as Rumi (d. 1273), translated into singable English:

Come, Come, Whoever You Are

Come, come, whoever you are:
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving. 
Come, come, whoever you are:
Ours isn’t a caravan of despair. 

It doesn’t matter if you’ve broken your vows
A thousand times before,
And yet again – come again, come.
And yet again …

Come again, come.

And here are the Hebrew words we’ll sing alongside them:

Bo, bo, mi she’atah
Na va-nad, mitpalleil, ohev la-tze’t
Bo, bo, mi she’atah
Ein zu shayarat yei’ushah

Mah nishtanah shenishb’ru n’darim
Elef pa’amayim lifnei chein,
Im kol zot shuv – bo shuv, bo.
Im kol zot shuv…

Im kol zot shuv, bo.
בּוֹא, בּוֹא, מִי שֶׁאַתָּה:
נָע וָנָד, מִתְּפַּלֵל, אוֹהֵב לָצֵאת.
בּוֹא, בּוֹא, מִי שֶׁאַתָּה:
אִין זוּ שַׁיָירַת יֵיאוּשָׁה.

מַה נִשְׁתַּנָה שֶׁנִשְׁבְּרוּ נְדָרִים
אֶלֶף פַּעֲמַיִם לִפְנֵי כֵן,
עִם כָּל זֹאת שׁוּב – בּוֹא שׁוֻב, בּוֹא.
עִם כָּל זֹאת שׁוּב …

עִם כָּל זֹאת שׁוּב, בּוֹא.

(Translation by Rabbi David Markus.) Here’s the song in English, on YouTube:

“Come, Come, Whoever You Are” on YouTube.

Here’s a simple recording of the Hebrew words:

“Come, Come, Whoever You Are” will be interwoven into our high holidays. It’s the theme on which congregants will speak on erev Rosh Hashanah, and it will inform the themes of my sermons as well.

I introduced the melody during services this past Shabbat, along with excerpts from Psalm 27, the daily psalm for Elul and the high holiday season. We’ll sing it again when I lead Shabbat morning services on September 21, and again at Selichot services that evening (8pm, dessert reception to follow, please join us!) in preparation for singing it together during the Days of Awe.

May these words and this melody uplift our hearts and inspire our spirits as we move deeper into this season of teshuvah, repetance and return.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel


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