What’s On Your Rosh Hashanah Playlist, Jennifer Elsner?

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Rosh Hashanah playlist

What’s on your playlist is a recurring feature where I ask one woman to create a holiday inspired soundtrack for us.

This Rosh Hashanah, I asked Jennifer Elsner to build a Rosh Hashanah mood for us.

Jennifer is a multidisciplinary artist, and creator of Inquiry Pop-up — a vacay meets salon meets dinner party, for a carefully curated coterie of women, in spectacular and remote locations. And while she’s uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person, has heard it can be effective for things like this.

Rosh Hashanah playlist

Let’s connect with Jennifer and listen to her.  May this post inspire you.


What mood are you building with this playlist?

A heightened awareness. To feel something unique in each song and as a collection, to access places new, within.

What do you imagine us “doing” while we listen to this playlist?  

Walking. With headsets on. Especially a walk is taken in the midst of holiday obligation(s). I see someone unapologetically defining this time alone, walking, as the greatest gift to your family, and your spirit.


Soundtrack for Time Alone on Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah playlist

1: She & Him – Swing Low Sweet Chariot

I looked it up, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is an American Negro Spiritual, from 1909. I’m not surprised. This version of the song, sung by Zooey Deschanel, is sweeter sounding than the many other renditions I’ve heard, but beneath the surface, remains a soulful complexity.


2: Bjork – Show Me Forgiveness

Show me forgiveness / For having lost faith in myself ...

I think of the exchange of asking for, and giving of, grace as integral to the Days of Awe. So, I typed the word “forgiveness” into my iTunes music search. I was immediately attracted to the title, but after listening I was convinced of it’s inclusion. This song is an uncommonly subdued song by Bjork. Her restraint here is as powerful as her more upbeat music.


3: Coldplay – God Put a Smile upon Your Face

When I finally discovered this song, YEARS after it came out, I wondered how it escaped me. It’s a heroic sounding song, that goes back and forth between emotional heights and depths. The climb and descent is majestic — it never fails to elevate my mood.


4: Regina Spektor – Better

Similar to the above, “Better” is an epic song. Most Regina Spektor songs are. I never fail to include her in any playlist. Her unabashed earnestness in vocal performance is something I crave to embody more fully. You can’t help but to be called to sing with her, trying to match her lead.


5: Vampire Weekend – Taxi Cab

I wish the title “Taxi Cab” fit better into this collection, but the song fits perfectly into the mix. Like a pixie sprinkling joy into beautiful monotony. I can see how on a walk, Ezra Koenig’s singing will bring you back, inward, after belting-it-out with Regina.


6: Kaiser Cartel – Blue Sky

I chose this song specifically because the twinkly piano riff harkens to the pixie-esque bridge in “Taxi Cab.” But the atmospheric simplicity was a great way to change the tone. The female voice is gorgeous, isn’t it? This song makes me feel like I could effortlessly lift off the ground and fly.


7: Paul Simon – Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard

I added this in to disrupt the whole thing I have going on, above. A return to something familiar and joyful. And a little crazy. It also makes me whistle.


8: La Derniere Minute – Carla Bruni

This song packs a punch in a wee 1 minute. Carla Bruni’s voice is stripped from artifice, and the acoustic guitar doubles down on creating intimacy. While the pacing from “Me and Julio” is kept up by something akin to a metronome, the tick-tock-tick-tock slows things down as we come to the end of the mix. I like offering that subtle cue.


9: All is Love – Karen O & The Kids

This is an excellent song to end with because of it’s message of unpretentious, childlike love of life. If I’m going to return from a walk, and back into my home, how this song makes me feel is how I want my family to know me. It’s what I want to feel. Expansive. Worry-free. Renewed.


Jennifer, thank you for sharing. I will carry your words: “” I see someone unapologetically defining this time alone, walking, as the greatest gift to your family, and your spirit.” with me into the High Holidays.

This post is part of our Holiday Playlist series where we ask inspiring women to build a mood for us for a specific holiday.  

Your turn:  What song would you add to Jennifer’s playlist?



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