Centennial Song: “Adonai Oz”
Introduced at our Centennial Spring Concert “Oz V’Shalom: Give Us Strength; Bring Us Peace,” on Sunday, March 23, 2014, featuring the song’s composer, Oran Eldor, and talented members of Agudas Achim including: AAC’s own Hazzan Elisheva Dienstfrey; Hazzan Matthew Klein (who grew up at AAC); Ein Lanu Z’man (the AAC Band), Shir Tze’ir (AAC High School A Cappella); The AAC Sisterhood Ensemble and the Children of Agudas Achim Congregation.
יְהוָה–עֹז, לְעַמּוֹ יִתֵּן; יְהוָה, יְבָרֵךְ אֶת-עַמּוֹ בַשָּׁלוֹם
ADONAI oz l’amo yitein, ADONAI y’vareich et amo vashalom
The LORD will give strength unto God’s people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.
About the Text
This text, originally from Psalm 29:11, is found in two different places in our liturgy – 1) In Psalm 29 which is recited on Friday night during Kabbalat Shabbat and also on Shabbat morning during the Torah Service and 2) at the very end of Birkat Hamazon, the set of blessings following a meal. Through this verse we emphasize God’s strength (oz) and God’s power to bring peace (shalom). Rabbi Ellen Frenkel in My People’s Prayer Book, Volume 4: Seder K’riat Hatorah (The Torah Service), suggests that “in praising God’s strength, we pray that God will grant us the same, ‘[God] will give strength to his people’ – a kind of divine quid pro quo.”
These words are a constant reminder of our recognition of God’s strength coupled with our faith in God to fulfill our eternal desire for peace.
How Did We Choose this Text?
When we brought the various texts from which to choose for our Centennial song to the congregation it was the words of this text that seemed to speak directly to the purpose of this piece – to communicate the essence of Agudas Achim. Those who connected with this text mentioned they felt a sense of God’s strength and the blessings of peace whenever they were praying, crying, celebrating with the Agudas Achim community. Additionally, the blessing offered at the end of the text gave us an opportunity not only to create a theme-song for the congregation, but an opportunity to bless the congregation every time it is sung.
For those reasons, and more, Rabbi Moline and Hazzan Dienstfrey (with the help of all of you) decided upon those words from Psalm 29, formally uttered on Shabbat evening and morning, during the blessing after we partake of bread, and now, any time we choose to celebrate the congregation.