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Bossa Shabbat – A New Sabbath Service in Song

I’d like to bring you up-to-date on what has happened since Bossa Shabbat had its premiere on January 24, 2014:

The Bossa Shabbat Friday night Sabbath service is now available to everyone: cantors, choirs, congregations, singers, and song leaders, as well as jazz and Bossa Nova aficionados—everyone who loves Shabbat music.

The Making of Bossa Shabbat is a 20-minute documentary video that includes musical excerpts, scenes from rehearsals, and interviews with the cantor, our rabbi, and myself. Start with this video for an introduction.

Also accessible through my website is a 56-minute video of the Bossa Shabbat  service. Included are 15 musical settings plus an instrumental overture and a reprise of the closing song, Oseh Shalom.

The video features solos by Cantor Ilene Keys (Candle Lighting Blessing  and her wonderful performance of a new Mi Shebeirach), and Catherine deCuir (Ahavat Olam), as well as a duet, a trio, and choral pieces in unison and in 2 and 3 parts.

(All videos may  be viewed individually via my website or on YouTube.)

The beautiful Temple Sinai sanctuary was packed with almost 600 congregants and friends thanks to many emails, word-of-mouth, a nice article in the  J Weekly, a fun blurb in the San Francisco Chronicle, and other promotional efforts. The videos reflect the congregational participation that can be expected during a unique service such as this. 

Now for the good part!

After much thought as well as discussion with friends and other composers, I decided that the entire service should be accessible to anyone who wants it, and cost should not be a barrier. I never wanted this to be about money. And I did not want a cantor or music director to have to decide which song to acquire because of budget limitations.

Thus, the music for the entire Bossa Shabbat service may be purchased for $36 via

Each song (plus the instrumental Overture) is available for download as a PDF file after the $36 is paid through PayPal. The service may also be purchased as a gift and given to a congregation, choir, or individual. (Don’t be afraid to ask for or give Bossa Shabbat as a gift!)

There are over 100 music PDFs available. Why so many?

I wanted each of the several solo pieces to be available for either Soprano/Tenor or Alto/Bass-Baritone. This required that several of the lead sheets be arranged in two keys to accommodate the different vocal ranges. 

If a jazz combo is being used for accompaniment, lead sheets for C instruments (piano, bass, guitar, flute, trombone), Bb instruments (tenor saxophone, clarinet), and Eb instruments (alto saxophone) are available for all the songs, including those for the two different vocal ranges.

I realized early on that some congregations or choirs or soloists would not have access to or want to use a jazz combo. So I composed a piano accompaniment for each song. These keyboard arrangements are written in a jazz style, and can be played by any good accompanist. Once again, they are available in all the keys necessary. Our Temple Sinai accompanist, George Anton Emblom, has performed several of the pieces at services, and they work very nicely.

A cantor or music director can download as many of the PDFs as he or she needs. Once you have access, you can download them any time. 

It’s in my nature to try to get things right the first time! Thus, from beginning to launch, this project has taken three years.

Website design, videography, YouTube, audio engineering, and editing have been done by professionals. Cantor Keys, the volunteer choir, our choral director, my wife, fellow congregants, musical friends and colleagues, and so many others have been supportive all along the way. I can tell you that we’ve encountered many logistical and technical challenges, but have worked through all of them and are very proud of the results.

Please visit the Bossa Shabbat page on my website to watch the videos and hear all of the music selections from the Bossa Shabbat Friday night Sabbath service.

In addition, you can hear many of my songs and compositions, as well as learn about What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew About Judaism, my 2004 book.

From the website, you can share Bossa Shabbat on your Facebook page and other social media outlets with friends and musicians, choir directors or members of choral ensembles, and  clergy that you know.

Thank you so much!

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