EZUZ is a Philly ensemble playing World Music with a beat. Rooted in ancient Jewish text, the rhythmic music of EZUZ traverses Middle Eastern, North American, Klezmer, Spanish, and South American styles -- with lyrics in Hebrew, English, Yiddish, and Ladino. "EZUZ" means "POWER" -- The Hebrew word is comprised of two words meaning "strength" and "move!". EZUZ moves audiences to sing, dance, clap, and participate in the joy of music and universal spirit!

The EZUZ ensemble is a multi-talented group of musicians from North American, Eastern and Western European, Lebanese, Armenian, South American, and African-American heritages. EZUZ members have played with such esteemed musicians as Zakir Hussein, Simon Shaheen, Yair Dalal, and Ohad "Udi" Bar David, George Clinton, Robert Walters 20th Congress, The Asepha Ensemble, MOFRO, Martin and Wood, The Delaware Symphony, Vile Tyrant and the Middle Men, African dance troupes in Sweden, Jazz quartets in France, Tango quintets at Lincoln Center in NYC, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and The Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra.

EZUZ has played concert venues, World Music showcases, art spaces, synagogues, churches, clubs, cultural centers, house concerts, and festivals -- including Limmud Philly, The POWER Music Festival, Yardley Interfaith Music Concert Series, The Cannery, L'Etage, Crossroads World Music Series, Rittenhouse Soundworks Arts Space, and the Jewish Folk Arts Festival of Washington, D.C. For information and bookings, contact ezuz@jessiroemer.com .

Lyrics (Hebrew) Psalm 146. Music and lyric adaptation: Jessi Roemer.
Halleli nafshi et El Ro'i
Ahalelah Adoshem b'chayai
Azamerah l'Elokai b'odi

My soul praises The God Who Sees Me
I will praise God with my life, all my life
I will sing to my God with all of my being,
as long as I exist
In this adapted version of the psalm, the name for God is the name given to God by Hagar, Abraham's second wife and the mother of Abraham's eldest son. When Hagar and her son are cast out by Sarah (Abraham's first wife), God opens Hagar's eyes and shows her a well, saving them from death by thirst. Hagar names God "El Ro'i," "The God Who Sees Me" (Genesis 16:13). Psalm 146 was written by Israelites in Babylonian exile; in this piece, it is re-imagined as being sung centuries earlier by Hagar as she wanders the desert, in exile from Abraham's house.
Lyrics (Hebrew, Yiddish) : Jessi Roemer and Psalms. Music: Jessi Roemer.
Aman, aman, Sarah bat Sarai
malchina et shirei chalomotai
Ba'emtza ha laila, imenu Sarah
mitganevet el michutz la'ohel
lehitpalel la'levanah:
Esa einai el he-harim
Meyayin yavo ezri?
Aman aman, Shoshana bas Raizl
Zing zhe mir fun glikt und mazl
Ba'or haboker, imi Shoshana
panta el hashemesh
v'lahesha bracha:
Ma tovim, tovim u'yafim
Ma tovim hachayim!
Sarah, born of Sarai,
composes the songs
of my dreams
In the middle of the night
our mother Sarah
slips from her tent
to pray to the Moon:

I lift my eyes
unto the mountains
From where
will my help come?
Shoshana, born of Raizl,
sing to me
of joy and good fortune!
In the light of the morning
my mother Shoshana
turned toward the sun
and whispered a blessing:
How good
and how beautiful
is life!

Imahot (Mothers), conjures two mothers: 1) The biblical character Sarah, who left her Moon-worshipping family to follow Abraham on his Divinely-inspired quest for a new land. Originally named Sarai, Sarah is re-named Sarah ("Princess") in a moment of spiritual re-birth; this piece describes Sarah as having been "born of" Sarai. Written in Hebrew, the language of the Torah, the first verse imagines Sarah in the desert, stealing from her tent at night to pray to the God of her ancestors, the Moon. Here, Sarah says the first lines of Psalm 121 (I lift up my eyes ... from where will my help come?) in her own private moment of prayer.
2) The second verse is about my mother, Hazzan Susan Rhea Kalb Roemer z"l, whose Hebrew name, Shoshana, had the same meaning as her mother's name, Raizl (Rose). In this verse, Shoshana turns her face toward the sun that she loved, and exclaims, as she often did, that life is good and beautiful! The first half of this verse is written in Yiddish, which my mother grew up hearing in her Russian and the Polish family. The second half is written in Hebrew, the language of Jewish blessings.

Lyrics (Ladino) : Leviticus 25:3. Music: Jessi Roemer.
Seij anos sembraras
sembraras la tierra
Seij anos podaras
podaras tu vinya
Pero el septimo
anyo la tierra
tendra completo
descanso para El Dio
For six years, till the land
For six years, prune your vineyards
But the seventh year
is for the land
a complete rest
for God

Using a Ladino translation of the biblical verses, this piece was composed just before the beginning of a year of shmita (Sabbath year for the land). It is a potent reminder in our time to use our resources with care, and to allow everything on Earth a regular opportunity to rest and regenerate.

Lyrics (Hebrew) : Psalm 148. Music: Jessi Roemer
Halleluyah! (8x)
Min hashamayim: Halleluyah
Bamromim: Halleluyah
Kol malachav: Halleluyah
V'kol tzva'av: Halleluyah
Halleluyah! (8x)
Shemesh v'yareach halleluhu
Shemesh v'yareach, kol kochavei or!
Halleluyah (praise Yah)!
From the heavens: Halleluyah
On the heights: Halleluyah
All Yah's angels: Halleluyah
And all Yah's minions: Halleluyah
Sun and moon praise Yah
Sun and moon, and all the stars of light!

The basic rhythm of this piece - called Ayoub (Job) in Arabic - is an ancient rhythmic pattern common to many cultures throughout the world, from the Middle East to Africa to the Caribbean. The instrumentation combines musical styles from these different countries and continents to express this psalm's universal theme of praise.

5. PSALM 101
Lyrics (Hebrew) : Psalm 101. Music: Jessi Roemer
Hesed u'mishpat ashira
lecha, Adoshem azamera
Askila baderech tamim
matai tavo eilai
Ethalech b'tom levavi
b'kerev beiti (2x)
Ra' lo 'eda (8x)
Of lovingkindness and justice I will sing
to you, God, I will sing
I will try to walk the simple path
when it comes to me
in the domain of my house
I will not know evil

This emotional Middle Eastern setting of the psalm expresses the work involved in walking a path of integrity; sometimes the biggest challenge can be to act with justice and kindness within one's own home. The last four lines of the text also suggest that we extend the notion of our own house beyond the physical walls, and behave with kindness toward everyone. The clarinet solo references the Jewish folk tune "Et Dodim," whose sensual words of love are taken from the Song of Songs.

Lyrics (Hebrew & English): Jessi Roemer, Genesis 1:3-4. Music: Jessi Roemer.
Or, vahehi or
vayara she ha'or hu tov v'
hevdeil bein or u'vein chosech
Or, she yihiyeh or
she yihiyeh or,
she yihiyeh or
Or, vayehi or,
And You saw the light was good, and
divided light away from darkness
Or, she yihiyeh or
she yihiyeh or,
she yihiyeh or
Or zoreach
ad she ein al ma l'hitpalel
Or aleinu
v'al kol yoshvei, yoshvei teivel
Or, she yihiyeh or
she yihiyeh or,
she yihiyeh or
Or, t'ni lanu or
Please see the light is good, and
shine some light into the darkness
Or, she yihiyeh or
she yihiyeh or,
she yihiyeh or
Light that shines on us till there is
nothing left to pray for
Light that shines on all the creatures
that this world was made for
Or, she yihiyeh or
she yihiyeh or,
she yihiyeh or
In our cities
and in our forests
and on our streets
and in our gardens
and in our lifetimes
and in our coal mines
and in our prisons
and on our children
Light that shines on us till there is
nothing left to pray for
Light that shines on all the creatures
that this world was made for
Or, she yihiyeh or
she yihiyeh or,
she yihiyeh or ...

The song is an extended prayer that begins with the biblical creation of light and telescopes out over several places in our modern world, returning repeatedly to the plea - made in modern Hebrew to a female God - "She yihiyeh or," "Let there be light." The prayer is also a call to action: If we want to make the world safer for our children, we need to bring light everywhere, including the darkest places. Ancient Middle Eastern text and modern commentary in a North American folk/pop setting.

Lyrics (Hebrew & English) : Torah and Jessi Roemer. Music: Jessi Roemer.
Hineni, yom va'laila (Here I am, day and night)
Hineni (Here I am)
Hineni, here I am
Hineni every day
Hineni here I, -neni here I,
-neni here I am!

This song is a celebration of showing up! The biblical term Hineni means, "Here I am: Mind, body, and spirit!"

Lyrics (Hebrew) : Liturgy. Music: Jessi Roemer.
Ahavat olam
Ahavat olam beit Yisrael
amcha ahavta
Torah u'mitzvot, chukim u'mishpatim
otanu limadeta
Al ken Adoshem Elokeinu b'shochveinu uv'kumeinu
Nasiach b'chukecha venismach
b'divrei Toratecha umitzvotecha
l'olam va'ed, l'olam va'ed
Ahavat Olam
Ki hem chayeinu v'orech yameinu
U'v'hem nehegeh yomam valaila
yomam valaila
V'ahavatch lo tasur mimenu l'olamim
Baruch ata, Adoshem,
ohev amo Yisrael
v'kol yoshvei teivel (2x)
Ahavat olam (2x)

Eternal love for the House of Israel
You have loved your people
Torah and righteous deeds,
rules and laws you have taught us.
You are our YHVH, our God,
as we lie down and as we rise.
We'll speak of your laws and be happy
in the words of your Torah and righteous deeds
Because these (laws) are our life
and the length of our days
And we will inhabit them day and night
Don't ever take your love from us
Blessed are you, Yah, who loves Yah's people
And all inhabitants of the Earth.

Lyrics: Liturgy & Jessi Roemer. Music: Jessi Roemer
Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu ha Tishbi
Eliyahu hagiladi, aifo Eliyahu?
Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu ha Tishbi
Eliyahu hagiladi, aifo Eliyahu?
Ay yay ...
Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu ha Tishbi
Eliyahu hagiladi, aifo Eliyahu?
Eliyahu balibi, Eliyahu barashi,
Eliyahu banishmati -- hiney Eliyahu!
Ay yay ...
Eliyahu the prophet, Eliyahu from Tishbeh
Eliyahu from Gilad, where is Eliyahu?
Eliyahu is in my heart, Eliyahu is in my head,
Eliyahu is in my soul -- Eliyahu is here!

In Jewish tradition, the prophet Eliyahu is the harbinger of the coming of the Messiah. Tradition emphasizes his humble origins, implying that he was a man of the people. This piece posits the possibility that each of us has Eliyahu within, and thus has the potential to bring about a Messianic age in which everyone is safe, fed, and at peace. The musical patterns here span continents - from the Middle East through Eastern Europe to South America - as the Jews have spanned these places throughout history.

Lyrics: Liturgy & Jessi Roemer. Music: Jessi Roemer.
Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh (2x)
This whole world holy, Kadosh Kadosh (2x)
Kulam k'echad
call out together as one
Kulam k'echad
answer together as one
Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh (2x)
This whole world holy, Kadosh Kadosh (2x)
Kulam k'echad
breathe together as one
Kulam k'echad
can live together as one
Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh (2x)
This whole world holy, Kadosh Kadosh (2x)
This sunlight holy, Kadosh Kadosh
This water holy, Kadosh Kadosh
This earth is holy, Kadosh Kadosh
Make my hands holy, Kadosh Kadosh

This piece elaborates on a central repetition (Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh) from the central prayer of Jewish liturgy (the Amidah), which emphasizes God's holiness. The original lyrics ask us to stop for a moment and try to envision the whole world and everything in it as holy. How would that affect how each of us walks through the world?