Thank you so much for your interest in this musical journey. I’m so grateful you’ve visited this site, and I’d love to tell you a little bit more about why we’re making this album, and what we hope to do with it once it’s released.
Our Journey to Making This Album:
As too many families have come to learn, getting pregnant isn’t easy. After years without success, Sherri and I turned to IVF, which is not an easy journey. There are lots of doctor’s visits, too many medications and injections, most of which aren’t covered by insurance, and a great deal of uncertainty around whether it will even work. The first two rounds didn’t take. The third round did. We were overjoyed.
There aren’t many resources for Jewish families going through the IVF process. One book that we really like is Fertility Journeys: A Jewish Healing Guide, published by Mayyim Hayyim Living Waters Community Mikveh (available here). They have biblical verses for different parts of the IVF journey, and melodies came to me for a few of the melodies in the book, one for each of the IVF cycles we did. One melody speaks about God guarding us from all harm – that came to me the morning Shemaryah’s embryo was implanted in Sherri. We sang it in the fertility clinic and every night as he grew inside her.
Unfortunately, our hopes of bringing Shemaryah into our home were not to be. After his stillbirth, we spent Shabbat with him in the hospital before the burial. A few of the melodies came from that period of immense despair, the rest in the weeks and months of our year of mourning.
Gam Ki Elech, the title track, is from the 23rd Psalm. “Even though I walk in the valley of deepest darkness, I fear no harm, for You are with me.” This melody arrived just a few days before Shemaryah’s death – it felt like a gift from God, telling me that even though what was to come would be awful, I would get through it. I wasn’t alone in my pain, and God was with me, holding me, carrying me, sharing in my tears. (Thankfully, many friends and loved ones were too).
The final melody came recently on my father’s yahrtzeit, the anniversary of his death. Perhaps Shemaryah and my Abba were working together to send it my way. The morning prayer service says that God has heard our cries. If that’s true, then how tightly do I need to carry them? Can I let go of some of the heartache and pain if I know I’ve been heard by the Holy One? Maybe so.
Our Love Continues:
As you can imagine, it’s been incredibly challenging to navigate the wellsprings of grief during our mourning journey. Like every parent, we had high hopes for the pregnancy and for what our life would be like with a baby in our home. As we’ve come to learn, we are far from alone – 1 in 4 pregnancies does not lead to a healthy child.
Sherri and I were so moved that many of our friends reached out to us to offer their support. They shared their stories of pregnancy and child loss with us, and almost everyone we spoke to noted the lack of conversation in the Jewish community around infertility and child loss. We knew that we needed a group where Jewish parents could connect, learn, and heal from the losses they’ve experienced. Together with friends, we created the Our Love Continues Facebook group. It’s a private, confidential space for Jewish parents who’ve experienced miscarriage, end of a wanted pregnancy, stillbirth, or the death of a child at any age. If you belong in the group, we’d be honored to have you with us. You can find it at Facebook.com/groups/OurLoveContinues – please note that in order to maintain a safe, supportive, and confidential community, answering the screening questions in full is required to enter.
Honoring Shemaryah Zichri:
The group is a beautiful community, and we wanted additional ways to remember Shemaryah and find our way through our grief. We started a Wednesday morning minyan on zoom. Every Wednesday at 8:30 am Eastern we gather with friends for a morning service. It’s been lovely to have Shemaryah’s Minyan holding us and others in our grief. We welcome guests at any time. If you’d like the zoom link to attend, please be in touch!
We also dedicated a music box at Beth Am, our synagogue, which is filled with drums and percussion instruments. We had hoped Shemaryah would grow up in the Beth Am community. We’re so glad that we could have Shemaryah’s memory kept alive at Beth Am, and delighted that the youth of Beth Am are making music with the instruments we donated in his memory.
Sherri and I each decided to take on a project during our year of mourning. Sherri made a beautiful mosaic which lives behind our Shabbat candles.
As you can see, we also filled Sheamryah’s yizkor candle with kid-themed beads, and we light a Shabbat candle for Shemaryah every Friday night too. We bless him, and we hope that he can feel our blessings and our love.
I decided that my project would be to make this album. I feel strongly that these melodies have been sent to us by Shemaryah, and each time I share them with others, I feel connected to him, and to the love and music he brought Sherri and I.
My dad loved Jewish music. I grew up listening to an eclectic mix of Jewish music along with gospel, and rock and roll. I started drum lessons when I was 8, and was in my first klezmer band when I was 13. I’ve been drumming and making music with many fabulous Jewish musicians for 30 years now. I’m especially grateful for my time learning and playing with Nava Tehila, Rabbi Shefa Gold, Kirtan Rabbi and many others in Renewal circles, Joey Weisenberg and the Columbia University Klezmer Band, Chana Rothman and other fabulous Teva musicians, Uncle Ira’s Hebrew Washboard Ensemble at Beth Am, and everyone I’ve played and prayed with over the years. I’m so grateful to have found the world of Jewish music. It moves my soul like nothing else.
I’ve drummed on a few albums before, but never made my own. It’s a lot of work to navigate the process, and I’m grateful that I found Zach Mayer to produce it, and wonderful friends to play on the album. Slowly but surely, the album is coming to light. With your help, we’ll be able to share these melodies with all who need to hear them.
Why We Need Your Support:
Unfortunately, making an album isn’t easy or cheap. In order to launch the album, we need money for the recording engineer, editing, mixing, mastering, album artwork, printing CDs, and of course for the musicians and producer for the rehearsals, recording sessions, and the concert. God-willing, the album will be released on Sunday, January 21st, 2024 with a concert here in Baltimore. Details are still being finalized – we will certainly keep you posted!
Even More in The Works:
Friends have told us that the melodies on the album are so precious and a beautiful vehicle to help others process and move through their own grief and loss. I am creating a workshop to help others find light even amidst the pain of loss. We all need spaces to support us when we’re dealing with life’s challenges, yet too few spaces exist for us to do so. The workshop will debut this summer at the ALEPH Kallah, and I hope to bring it to as many communities as possible. My Dad, Rabbi Mel Glazer, specialized in grief and mourning, and he used to say that loss is our greatest teacher, if we are willing to learn from it. I hope the workshop will allow others to learn and heal from and through their grief, just as we have.
In time, I also hope to create a kids book around grief and mourning. Where does the love we have for our departed relatives and friends go? Can we still connect with them? How do we carry them with us? How do we heal our wounded hearts? I’ve learned a lot through this journey, and Shemaryah and the Scoop family of holy pelicans have much to share. Perhaps this will be done in time for Shemaryah’s 3rd yahrtzeit in 2025.
In the meantime, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share this music with you. Your support will enable me to share this music with the world and bring healing to so many. There are many opportunities to give – please choose whatever is most appropriate, and if I can come to your community for a concert or Shabbaton, I’d be delighted to do so.
Thank you so much for your kindness and generosity. It’s incredibly meaningful to have supporters with me on the journey to making this album a reality. It means more than I can possibly put into words.
I look forward to making this album. Thank you for allowing me the gift of doing so.
May all of us who mourn find peace.