About Larry Lesser
I’m a father, husband, son, and brother, and an award-winning songwriter/poet/educator/author who synthesized decades of my eclectic Jewish journey (https://larrylesser.com/judaism) into a new multi-genre trove of 24 highly original non-liturgical non-denominational songs, https://larrylesser.com/sparks/, including “Seven Circles.” The album’s deep, diverse, and accessible approach has been recognized in the Jewish education world (e.g., its environmental song “Rowboat” is featured in the fall 2020 issue of NewCAJE’s journal, The Jewish Educator) as well as in the secular music world as a 2021 New Mexico Music Awards Finalist for Album of the Year as well as for 3 other categories: Best Humorous Song, Best Bluegrass Song, and Best Religious Song. The album has also had NPR station interviews, known airplay of 11 different songs, and critical praise across streams from Jewish and music communities. The album was one of the achievements that led to my being recognized as a 2021 Hadar Jewish Wisdom Fellow. A former Houston Jewish day school teacher, I became a professor based in El Paso where I give classes and concerts (sometimes combined!) at campus, congregational and community events. Tapping my education/outreach skillset and varied Jewish experiences, I enjoy writing and performing songs to connect with any audience.
About Seven Circles
Having taught and thought a lot about mathematics and its connections to Judaism (https://larrylesser.com/judaism/), I wrote this song sparked by poetic reflections on the number 7 in Judaism and how it symbolizes wholeness or completion. I wrote and performed (guitars, vocals, organ, percussion) the song on my album SPARKS (https://larrylesser.com/sparks), a Finalist for Album of the Year in the 2021 New Mexico Music Awards. The song’s bridge (“Seven times the Earth will turn to bring a day of peace; seven times around the sun brings year of release”) explicitly invokes shmita and its parallel with Shabbat. The song’s verses depict four more examples of “seven circles” in Judaism: Joshua’s men circling the walls at Jericho, the seven hakafot of Simchat Torah, a bride circling a groom under the chuppah, and the tefillin strap circling one’s non-dominant arm. Beyond the striking effect of encountering so many instances of the seven circles motif, there is also a unifying theme that these circles take down walls, whether literal walls of Jericho or figurative walls we must transcend to seek deeper self and meaning during marriage, during prayer, or during a time of rest. Breaking down walls can also symbolize barriers we must transcend to cultivate a more sane, sustainable vision (economically, ecologically, and socially) for living for the good of ourselves, our family, our community, our country, and our planet.
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