A cantorial project started by Rabbi Shmulik Moscowitz after he relocated to Brazil, was originally meant to connect with his former congregants in Flagstaff, AZ. But it quickly started gaining listeners from around the world.
by Tzipora Reitman
Before the pandemic, Steven M. Jacobs, a retired computer studies professor, loved listening to Rabbi Shmulik Moscowitz sing the Shabbat prayers at Chabad of Flagstaff.
Now refraining from in-person shul attendance, Jacobs is learning prayer melodies from Rabbi Moscowitz through an online video resource, Timeless Tunes, available on Chabad.org and on social media.
“Rabbi Shmulik’s Timeless Tunes video series brings me back into the synagogue,” said Jacobs. “It warms my heart with individual prayers, tunes, and explanations, and the words even appear on the screen in transliteration and translation.”
Like Jacobs, the community members and college students at Chabad of Flagstaff, where Moscowitz served as a shliach for four years, loved listening to him sing and were eager to learn the songs themselves. Recognizing that people had difficulty reading Hebrew and keeping up with the prayers, Moscowitz taught a musical “prayer of the month,” which they sang together over and over until everyone really knew it.
Moscowitz had long dreamed of becoming a chazzan. As a child in Chicago, he helped his father lead services at a retirement center shul. As a yeshiva student, he traveled to various Chabad Houses, teaching songs and serving as chazzan for the High Holidays. He also served as a baal menagen in various yeshivos, teaching songs to the students.
At the beginning of Covid, Moscowitz and his family were in Brazil, visiting his wife Yael’s family, the Michaans, who are shluchim in Sao Paulo. “I wanted to find ways to connect with people to bring joy and happiness during this difficult period,” said Moscowitz. He realized that just as people in Flagstaff enjoyed learning the songs of davening, this could benefit Chabad centers, Jewish centers, and people around the world.
And so, Moscowitz harnessed the power of social media by launching Timeless Tunes, expanding his lessons on the melodies of davening to a worldwide audience. He added subtitles with transliteration and translation, and enhanced the videos with accompanying music by Mendy Golomb, a 15-year-old in Sheffield, England, who records the song on his keyboard and then sends it to Moscowitz to record the vocals over it. “I knew most of the tunes, but I had to learn quite a few myself, and I am still learning!” said Mendy.
Now on shlichus in Sao Paulo, where he serves as chazzan and shliach at Bait Centro Judaico, Moscowitz prepares Portuguese subtitles for his local Brazilian audience in addition to English.
“I really like the songs posted by Rabbi Shmulik,” said Paulo Kopelowicz of Brazil. “They are cheerful and inspiring, and the videos teach me how to recite them with joy and bring more intention to my prayers.”
Each week, Moscowitz posts a new Timeless Tune on numerous social media channels, along with a few meaningful explanations about the prayer. The series has a huge following in Brazil, and the series on Chabad.org has also greatly expanded its reach to individuals as far flung as Beijing and Belgium.
Timeless Tunes includes sections for Shabbos davening, High Holiday, Chanukah, and Hallel Series, with the Friday night prayers to launch soon.
Don’t be surprised if you hear a Chassidic niggun while hiking in Arizona. It might be Ivy Kellogg of Flagstaff, who said, “These songs bring peace and joy to my heart while supporting my strength in living the best Jewish life possible. I find myself singing some of these songs when hiking in the forest.”
To watch the Timeless Tunes videos, visit
Or on YouTube:
To help support the project: www.jewishflagstaff.com/timelesstunes
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