Friday, December 2, 2011

Jewish Music Fridays: Shirei Halevi'im

Welcome back to Jewish Music Fridays! This week we're featuring an album that came out a few years ago, but is one of the most unique and beautiful releases I've ever heard.

It's called "Shirei HaLevi'im" and it's by Rabbi Benjy Epstein. Rabbi Epstein is a former sgan mashgiach at YU, and was once the lead singer for a band called Aspaklaria, which was formed during the time he and his friends were undergrads at YU.

This album was another random seforim sale find for me, and I didn't even discover it until the 2010 sale, despite the fact that the album was released in 2009.

The overall structure of the album is as the title implies: the daily perek of tehillim we recite after Shacharis, the very same songs that the Levi'im sang in the Beis Hamikdash. There are a few other perakim thrown in as well, plus an amazing bonus track that is hidden after a gap at the end of "Borchi Nafshi" which features Rabbi Epstein singing R' Shlomo Carlebach's "Ana Bekoach" A Capella - and it's simply gorgeous.

The overall feel of the album is a relaxed, soothing, soul-stirring journey that really speaks to the listener's inner essence. I'm sure that every consumer will be struck by different aspects of the music, but the combination of Rabbi Epstein's soft voice and the masterfully composed accompanying music puts me in a very meditative, positive state of mind/being.

It just so happens that I gave this CD to ASoG while we were dating, and we'd often listen to it on repeat during our car ride back to Washington Heights while there was construction being done on the George Washington Bridge. Traffic can be annoying, especially late night traffic, but with "Shirei HaLevi'im" coming out of the car's speakers, I really didn't mind at all.

Unfortunately, there aren't any real Youtube videos of songs from "Shirei Halevi'im" other than this very short clip from an appearance at the Seforim Sale:

I've never gotten tired of this CD as I have with other albums, but I think it does require a certain mood to listen to it, or a desire to be transported to another realm of spiritual tranquility. There are a few slightly faster songs here, but don't expect anything you could really dance to, which I don't think is a fault whatsoever.

According the Shirei HaLevi'im's Facebook page, there might be new material in the works as of this past September. I really hope Rabbi Epstein and crew will be able to produce and release a second album!

In short, Shirei HaLevi'im is a must-buy, and probably will be one of the most, if not the most unique album in your Jewish Music collection. It's an amazing week-long (and then some) listening experience that will elevate your soul.

Please check it out and support Rabbi Epstein's music!


  1. I love shirei Halevi'im! It is one of my favorite CDs- really beautiful music, and like you said- I also didn't get sick of this album and can listen to it over and over. I didn't know all of the background information about it. Thanks for writing about it.
    I just wanted to add that I am also really enjoying the Jewish Music Fridays series, so keep them coming!

  2. I'm glad there are other Shirei HaLevi'im fans out there! It didn't seem like many people knew about it and I didn't hear anyone talk about it like they have for other CDs.

    Incidentally, Rabbi Epstein emailed me after reading this post!

    I'm glad you're enjoying JMFs. I hope to continue the feature as long as I can. I have a handful of other albums/groups I want to feature, though I would like more unique/non-mainstream Jewish Music to be out there for fans to enjoy. There are so many ways to connect to music in a spiritual and meaningful fashion, and my goal is to give more exposure to groups that can inspire in ways that the typical big-name releases often cannot.

    And thanks for commenting :)

  3. Yeah I haven't met too many other people who have heard of Shirei HaLevi'im either. And I am not sure why, since it is so good! But then again I don't know too many people who are obsessed with Jewish music. That's awesome that Rabbi Epstein emailed you. Tell him to put out more CDs! :)

    I have heard of some of the ones you mentioned (Judablue (which I really like) and The groggers (I'm not as much of a fan)) but I am always on the lookout for new Jewish music to listen to. It seems like we have similar taste so I will have to check out some of the ones you mention that I haven't heard of (Eden and Except Saturday).

  4. I sent him a lengthy reply and I definitely begged him to make more music!

    Definitely check out Eden and Except Saturday! Both are really top notch and are diversifying the more modern rock/alternative/pop rock Jewish Music scene.

    I'm currently obsessed with Eden's EP "Knock at the Door" which is playing non-stop in my car (I wish there were more than 6 songs on it), and Except Saturday has an incredible vocalist and many great Shabbos-related songs. Both are very worthwhile purchases in my opinion.


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