If you weren’t at Temple of Aaron for the first day of Rosh Hashanah services, or if you didn’t stay until the end, you missed a big surprise. Temple of Aaron brought in Nicholas David, Twin Cities native and The Voice third place runner-up, to close out the service.
David played three songs to a surprised, yet captivated audience.
“That was so cool,” said one congregant as he left the synagogue.
That seemed to be the general feeling of the room. It’s not every day that you get a surprise performance from a nationally recognized singer. And it truly was a surprise—Temple of Aaron did not tell their congregants David was set to perform until the moment he took the bima. “It was just time we showed our entire congregation and the Twin Cities that it’s an amazing place to live and experience Judaism,” said Rabbi Jeremy Fine. “I think the vibe at Temple of Aaron this Rosh Hashanah proved that, and Nicholas was an amazing kicker to an unforgettable holiday.”
Temple of Aaron chose a theme of “Shir Chadash,” a new song, for this year’s high holidays. To that end they peppered their service with song quotes, and ended with this surprise performance. As soon as Rabbi Fine announced David to the bima an excited hum, followed by applause, reverberated through the sanctuary—two sounds not normally associated with high holiday services. As David played I was struck by how quiet the sanctuary was, none of the typical feet shuffling, low whispers, etc, that I’m used to; everyone, even if they didn’t approve, was at least paying attention.
A bold choice like this probably had some traditionalists upset, but everyone I talked to had nothing but praise for the idea. One congregant even raved about how great it was to see Temple of Aaron shake up tradition and end services with something fresh and unexpected.
And even though I am not a member of Temple of Aaron, it was still cool to see a famous musician walk on stage wearing a kipah, and play to a packed house on one of the holiest days of the Jewish year.
Needless to say, this was the first time David, who is not Jewish, played a Rosh Hashanah concert. “People think I’m Jewish all the time,” said David. But, he said, “I’m everything.”
He said he’s just a spiritual person, and that comes through in his music. The idea of Rosh Hashanah being about a new year and a new start resonates with him because his music is all about hope and healing. At least that’s what he hopes to accomplish with it.
Unfortunately, out of respect to Rabbi Fine and Temple of Aaron (and the laws of the Jewish people) I wasn’t able to take notes or record our interview, so I’m largely paraphrasing the conversation I had with David after the concert. But David said he loved the experience and was grateful to be asked to be a part of it.
After he finished playing, David stood up and wished his audience a Shana Tova. We’re still only in the first week of this new shana but for everyone at Temple of Aaron on Wednesday afternoon, it’s off to a great start.