“I’m going into this place with this grand man speaking far away with the cape over him…I’m sitting with this buxom woman with giant giant breasts and smelling wafts of perfume. And I’m sitting there and I’m laying on her bosom. And I’m hearing “he” and I’m saying ‘this does not compute.'” -Fanchon Shur

 Watch Fanchon’s full interview here.

“Composing the last prayer of my Hallel Psalms…I made 40-50 sketches, all kinds of variations till four o’clock in the morning (until) I found the right one. In that moment I felt elation. People… call it God, some people call it inspiration. Whatever it is, that was a moment of holiness. But on a daily basis, I don’t pray.” -Bonia Shur

Watch Bonia’s full interview here.

One of the great blessings of my life is that I have come to know Fanchon & Bonia Shur.  We were introduced by my friend, Rabbi Leah Cohen, when Leah was studying to become a Rabbi at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.  Bonia was one of the great Jewish liturgical composers of the past century and for thirty years taught rabbinical students about liturgical prayer.  His compositions are sung around the world, especially his “Kedusha” and his “Hallel.”  But his younger years were spent in the socialist HaShomer HaTzair youth movement and in the Russian Army in WWII. He emigrated to in Israel in 1949 and to the United States in 1960.

The love of his life, Fanchon Shur, is a world famous choreographer, dancer, and movement therapist.  Fanchon’s career has been filled with a series of provocative and healing dance pieces including the one that opened my heart to her work, “Flight, Fight, Freeze!” which used the play of animals to teach us humans about how to recover from tragedy.  Fanchon and Bonia’s love of each other and passion for life and art was beyond any ordinary love and passion.  Bonia died two years ago at the age of 89 and Fanchon continues to dance and teach and be the great presence she is in the universe.  How grateful I am that I was able to interview them for Portraits In Faith so I can share these two wonderful individuals with the rest of the world.