The sanctuary in Beth Sholom Congregation in Frederick was the set for a High Holiday-themed music video created by one of the Conservative synagogue’s members.
Juliana Lynch recorded herself singing “Avinu Malkeinu” — “Our Father, Our King” or “Our Parent, Our Sovereign,” a prayer of supplication whose roots are in the talmudic period. The video was uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 25 and it has since been viewed almost 900 times.
Lynch, 22, was studying music education at New York University. When classes went virtual, she moved back home to Frederick. She said the music video was a passion project meant to motivate her to create during the pandemic.
“It’s difficult to keep progressing musically without some end goal in mind. So this was kind of a way to get toward something specific and produce something,” Lynch said. “And I thought this would be a really powerful piece to put out before Yom Kippur and the High Holiday season. And the words felt really appropriate and necessary to do right now.”
Lynch and four friends each recorded their own vocals that were edited together with a piano track played by another friend.
Lynch’s rendition of “Avinu Malkeinu” features the traditional Hebrew words along with four Hebrew lines that she added that relate to the pandemic:
Our Father, Our King,
Remove the plague from your inheritance,
Bring us back in full repentance before you,
Send complete healing to the sick among your people,
Tear up the evil [parts] of our sentence.
Lynch said she spent two hours filming herself in the Beth Sholom sanctuary. She said it was challenging to prop up the camera and she had to do more takes than typical to get the shot right.
Another part of the video has Lynch singing in a wooded area, which was on an overlook off to the side of a highway. To get the shot, she borrowed her younger brother’s drone, which had a camera mounted to it.
Originally, Lynch wanted to include a segment featuring the other singers, but that plan fell through. So a few days before she planned to release the video, she asked her friends, family and congregants to snap pictures or film themselves holding signs featuring their hopes for the new year.
“It was a little bit scary to ask for so much help,” Lynch said. “The signs, in a way, allowed us to put more weight behind the requests, because we actually were hearing even more people’s voices. It ended up becoming very powerful on a community level.”
Rabbi Jordan Hersh described Lynch as someone “who is passionate about singing, and passionate about Judaism. Using her gift, her voice for sacred music, it makes my heart feel good to know that is still something she is doing and, more importantly, that it’s something that she’s sharing with the world.”
He added, “It’s touching, not just because it’s our sanctuary, but just to know that the Jewish community that she was raised in continues to be an integral part of her Jewish life.”
Lynch doesn’t think she’ll make another music video anytime soon. She plans to focus on her studies and enjoy the praise she’s received from the video.
“There’s a lot of positive feedback,” Lynch said. “And I was happy to see that a lot of people stressed gratitude and found it meaningful as a way to kind of experience community prayer in a time where not many of us have access to that. So that alone makes it worthwhile.”