About the Alter Rebbe’s song “Keli Atah” & my sister Esty (Rubin) Cohen obm.
Tonight, after first two days of the Sukkot holiday, we hosted the annual communal Musical Night in the Sukkah in memory of my sister Esty (Rubin) Cohen, whose yartzeit is just after this holiday ends.
This annual event is very dear to my parents, Rabbi Yisrael and Rochel Rubin, who do this event each year for the community in memory of Esty. It’s a special communal time each year. And the Chassidic melodies are beautifully played by very talented local musicians, Laura Melnicoff on cello, Josh Sussman on violin, this year accompanied by Sergei Nirenberg on accordion and Brian Melnick on drums.
Laura Melnicoff, the cellist, asked my mother to introduce the Keli-Atah song, knowing how this song has a special connection to my mother & Esty.
My mother explained that Esty was very sick over Sukkot (she passed away just after Simchat Torah) & my mother spent the holiday at my sister’s bedside, singing to her, talking to her. Every day of Sukkot we say/sing the Hallel, so my mother sang the Hallel with her everyday, & the last song of the Hallel is Alter Rebbe’s Keli-Atah.
As far as a Chassidic melody goes,”Keli-Atah” is a simpler song, its uncomplicated. It doesn’t have the complexities & sophistications of many a Chabad Niggun. It has such a basic accessible beauty. And my mother explained, that this was also Esty. She was wise & learned, but also simple & uncomplicated. She didn’t ask for much, didn’t draw attention to herself, she was deep but uncomplicated, she lived a simpler life. Modesty to the core. But like Keli-Atah, there is such powerful beauty in it, and in her.
And so my mother always thinks of her at Keli-Atah, and each time she sees & sings these words, she remembers the very difficult but very close time during her illness, all the holiday days of Sukkot that preceded her passing, singing the songs of Hallel, especially, especially this song of the AlteRebbe’s Keli-Atah.