Produced by Will Robertson and Beth Schafer
This album would not be possible without the generosity of dear friends
Executive Producers: Rabbi Amy Perlin, Helaine Blum, Rabbi Brad Levenberg, Rabbi Ron Segal
Benefactors: Dr. Daren and Amanda Becker, Stephen and Candy Berman, Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz, Dr. Robert Kramer, Lewis and Ellen Krinsky, Fr. Dr. Vincent Manalo, Heidi Ortmeyer, Dr. Robert and Joanne Palumbo, Rabbi Jack and Audrey Romberg, Rabbi Sam Shabman, Julie Silver
It was a rainy day in the fall of 2015. I sat in a dark room. Months before I had left my home and crumbling marriage of 23 years, my pulpit of 14 years, my musical partners of 20 years and even my beloved children (for what would be a temporary, year-long situation). I moved to a new city, took a new pulpit and lived alone for the first time since college. And shortly after, I came out as a gay woman to my family, friends and community. In that moment in that dark space, I was profoundly alone, sad and scared; afraid that I had made a monumental mistake. I left a trail of hurt and loss in the wake of my move and could barely look at myself in a mirror. My freedom was someone else’s sadness.
A few years prior I had fallen into a deep depression--this was my attempt to crawl out of it and yet, taking these measures to change my life for the better left me in a similar darkness-just with new surroundings. Throughout my life I had always aspired to be a healer and yet in trying to heal myself, I injured others and was devastated.
Through all the upheaval I assumed that God hated me as much as I hated myself. In my self-disappointment, we had become somewhat estranged. But that day I forced myself to pray. Often, my prayer from the depths of sadness has been, “God, what am I supposed to learn from this?” but that prayer yielded no answer. And so, after crying what seemed like a bucket of tears, I tried a simpler approach and asked, “God, do you love me?” For a very long time, I sat in silence until an unbelievable answer came to me that I wasn’t expecting. It was, “Welcome back.” I began to write and what came out of that dark day was a song entitled, God Was In This Place, based on Jacob’s struggling encounter with God in his dreams. I too struggled and awoke with a revelation not unlike Jacob’s. God had always been with me, but “I, I did not know.”
That song ignited the writing muse that had alluded me during those years of depression. I had not released an album since 2009. Maybe this was the beginning of something. Next came songs about honesty, redemption and forgiveness. And then my new congregation, Temple Sinai in Atlanta, asked me to write a song to honor their 50th anniversary. I was also turning 50. One of my rabbis, Ron Segal, suggested a text by the late Rav Kook, “Hayashan Yitchadesh, v’he’chadash yitkadesh-Let the old become new and the new be made holy.” As I wrote my congregation’s new anthem, I realized that I was writing one for myself as well. That song gave me confidence to write about burning social justice issues of the day and to broaden the styles of my writing and guitar playing. Almost four years later, I am happy to release this collection entitled, Renewed. I am truly grateful for having reached this moment and to be able to share it with you. Thank you so, so much for listening.