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Shabbat Morning Services: Shabbat Shuvah (Morning Service honoring Nancy Picus)

Saturday, September 23, 2023 8 Tishrei 5784

9:30 AM - 11:45 AMIn Sanctuary & Livestream on YouTube

Services in person and also streamed on YouTube:

Live Stream via YouTube:

Congregation Brith Shalom Honors Nancy Picus on Shabbat Shuvah
Congregation Brith Shalom will honor Nancy Picus on September 23 at the 9:30 AM Shabbat Shuvah morning service. Picus will be honored for her many volunteer activities in the synagogue and in the Houston Jewish community.

Picus schedules the Shabbat Torah and Haftarah readers, the gabbaim and the service daveners. She began scheduling the Torah readers 14 years ago when she and her family joined the synagogue. She reads Torah herself two to three times a month.

Leyning Torah (chanting from a Torah scroll) is a skill most Jews learn for their bar or bat mitzvah. It often becomes a skill they will never do again-or do only when that same parsha comes around each year.

“It took me numerous tries to get to a skilled level,” Picus said. “I started learning from Cantor Elizabeth  (Liz) Berke.

“I always knew how to read Hebrew but learned the trop from different cantors including Liz, Cantors Sharon Cohn, Robert Gerber and Lance Rhodes. I also learned from books and from being able to pick out the notations on piano. It’s been a project of mine over the years and I’m still learning.

“One of the biggest problems I had was many of the musical notations are not in the key I sing in so I had to learn the trop in my own key.

“What makes the chanting easy is my knowledge of Hebrew. I understand most of what I chant. Anyone who chants regularly, if they understand what they are reading, it makes it easier”.

In the Ashkenazic tradition, there are six different sets of melodies used for different circumstances. They are: Torah trop, High Holiday Torah trop (used on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), Haftarah trop, Megillat Esther trop (used on Purim), Megillat Each trop (used on Tisha B’Av, and Megillah trop (used during Sukkot, Pesach and Shavuot.

Picus added: “The other thing about trop is it is regional. Sephardic trop is different than Yemenite. Ashkenazic is different than both. It’s a fascinating art form”.

CBS Rabbi Ranon Teller praised Picus’ role a a lifelong Jewish leader.                       

“Nancy served as a Jewish leader in her exemplary career career as a Jewish educator. She is still channeling that leadership energy into her volunteerism at Brith Shalom. We are incredibly blessed by her presence”.

In addition to her volunteer work at Brith Shalom. Picus also teaches at the ERJCC and volunteers at Celebration Company and the South Texas Jewish Archives at Rice University. With all that, Picus said she still has time to play with her grandchildren.

“There are many reasons to be an active volunteer. The synagogue gives me a lot and by volunteering, I can give back. I have always felt at home in a synagogue since I was a child. The people who are there Shabbat morning are my extended family.

“People feel honored to read Torah. We have one reader who is fairly new and she gets very excited when I ask her to read. It gives one a chance to participate in something Jews have been doing for centuries. Of course women haven’t leyned Torah for that whole time. But now they are”.

Article written by CBS member and JHV columnist, Aaron Howard.

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Mon, September 25 2023 10 Tishrei 5784