Monday, May 31, 2004

Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?

Warning: Tasteless post ahead!!!

Birds Just Wanna Have Fun!

Shavuos Torah

Shir Hamaalos to the tune of "I Am A Mountain"....

Also, took a look at the Spring 2003 edition of the RJJ Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society. Rabbi Alfred Cohen's article on "Daat Torah" in that volume is interesting. In the article, he quotes the Meshech Chochma, who says that the true "sin" of Moshe Rabbenu at Mai Meriva was that he erred in not realizing how his policy would be misinterpreted by the Jewish people.
"Even a great and true Torah leader, whose vision of Judaism is clear and whose wisdom is profound, has to decide not only what is the right thing to do, but also - how the people will perceive it."
In a footnote, he refers to the takanos imposed on wedding expenditures by the Agudah and notes:
As an example, if people were to get the impression that certain individuals are exempt from following recently-issued guidelines for limiting ostentation and excessive spending at weddings, there would be little incentive for others to adhere to them.
Under the circumstances, lack of respect for Daat Torah abounds.
Rabbi Cohen is too kind here. I fail to see how people could not get that impression, given that the text of the takanos explicitly allows for exceptions to these rules.

He also notes in a later footnote:
During the past year, a proclamation was issued by Torah leaders, calling upon all members of the community to accept restrictions and guidelines for expenditures when making weddings. The proclamation aroused a great deal of discussion, as well as debate whether this area was indeed the one most in need of correction -- some suggested that it would have been far more important and worthwhile to place a limit on the costs of Yeshiva education, which places a tremendous burden on thousands upon thousands of families. Be that as it may, the true test of that proclamation's efficacy as Daat Torah will be evident in about five years, when its impact will or will not be noticeable. It is the view of this writer that the factor determining whether this move to influence public behavior succeeds is really dependent upon the behavior of the signators themselves: the first time a wealthy or important individual flouts the guidelines, but the Torah personalities who signed attend his child's wedding anyway -- that will be the end of the projects efficacy.
By this standard, the takanos are already a failure – as it was obvious that they would be. I should note that there are many people who have been abiding by the takanos despite the fact that, even within the “Aguda” community, they aren’t universally followed.

I have additional thoughts on the essay in general, but don’t have the time to get into it now.

Monday, May 24, 2004

What's His Name?

Stambordnotes that the identity of the "popular" wedding singer allegedly killed in a US attack on a "wedding party" in Iraq (Yeah, right!) has been changing.

Criticizing A Critic

Tony Kushner responds to a critical review of his new musical.

The lyrics he refers to can be found here.

Madonna Israel Tour Cancelled

The Jerusalem Post reports that Madonna's Reinvention Tour, which began on May 24, will not include Israel as one of its stopovers.
Despite rumors confirming and reconfirming the star singer's performances here, Madonna has axed her three planned gigs because terrorists threatened to kill her and her children, Britain's The Sun newspaper reported earlier this week.
According to the tabloid, Madonna "freaked out" when she learned of the plot to kill her children, Lourdes and Rocco, if she performed in Israel. Madonna was tentatively scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv in September. The paper says she first planned to defy the extremists but cancelled after the unnamed Palestinian group mentioned specific details about her children in a bombardment of poison-pen letters.
Apparently, the "protection tools" don't work against terrorists.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Jewish Music Hock

Jonathan at The House of Hock discovers Jewish Music blogs.

I disagree with his assertion that the point of music in the Orthodox community is "mainly to maintain their Jewish identity." Perhaps that's what it should be, but that is definitely not an accurate description of the bulk of the music being produced by the Brooklyn JM scene.

I also think that he's mischaracterized our respective positions on what we think JM ought to be. Each of the JM bloggers has different musical preferences -- where we agree is that the current spate of commercial Jewish albums lacks soul. Simply put, the music isn't good because there's no "there" here. Quality isn't necessarily synonymous with "rocking" or "spiritual" music, and from my perspective, one can have quality music in any style. The current commercial stuff, though, simply isn't up to par. It fails both as Jewish music and as pop music... and that's the real issue that I have with it.

Concert Update

The House of Hock has a NCYI Concert Update.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


When I started out playing weddings in the JM field, one song that many bandleaders regularly called on the jobs I played was the Israeli tune, "Hakotel." I never understood why they would choose to call a sad song at such a joyous time.

Here's a translation of the last verse:
She stood, dressed in black, at the kotel.
The mother of one of the infantry soldiers.
She told me, it's the eyes of my son that are shining
And not the candles on the wall.
She told me: I'm not writing
Any note to hide between the cracks.
Because what I gave to the kotel only last night
Is greater than any words or writing.
And here's the chorus (which quotes Rav Kook):
The kotel, moss and sadness.
The kotel, lead and blood.
There are people with a heart of stone.
There are stones with a human heart.
(The full lyric can be found here.)

And so, I never call this tune when I'm leading gigs... except on Yom Hazikaron or Yom Yerusholayim. Over this Yom Yerusholayim, I had the opportunity to play and sing this song at several gigs. The lyrics are so powerful, and resonate so much... especially in light of the "matzav" in Artzenu Hakedosha these days. I find it hard to express my thoughts about all those who gave their lives -- both then and now -- on behalf of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael. The self-sacrifice of our chayalim truly is, if I may borrow the lyric..."gadol mimilim umiktav.

And so, as Yom Yerusholayim draws to a close, I simply conclude with the words of Rav Goren Z"L on that first Yom Yerusholayim at the Kotel, "L'shana Hazot B'Yerusholayim Habenuya, B'Yerusholayim Ha'atika!"

Chiddushim: Singing Pesukim

Matt Wieder has added some comments I'd emailed him and his responses to the comments section on his post about singing psukim we referenced a few days ago.

Feel free to jump in!

Concerted Effort

Rabid Kahanist (his own description) Lammpost rants about the concert in the park.

Kurdish Music

Here's an interesting article on the upsurge in popularity of Kurdish music in Iraq.

Rap Violin

Violinist Miri Ben-Ari will soon be releasing her debut rap album according to CNN.
"Basically the hip-hop and R&B community are getting together to pull this off," says Ben Ari. "I have Anthony Hamilton on one track, Scarface on one, Ghostface on two tracks, Joe Budden, Mya, Kanye (West) and the list goes on, it's amazing."
Unlike her other album, "Miri Ben-Ari and Friends", it is not being produced by Shelly Lang.

Monday, May 17, 2004

It Was Inevitable!

Steven I. Weiss (Sorry, Steve! I'm not feeling "Fiddish". How about "Onward, Yiddish Soldiers?") has the lyrics to a song about sheitels, and a link to which has another.

Blogging Torah

Yesterday's shiur by Matt Wieder was on the topic of "Singing Pesukim."

Chaim Witz Speaks His Mind

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons offends Australia's Muslims.

Concert Not Kosher, YU Rabbis Rule

Here's a YU Commentator report on a concert by the Seth Yacovone Band that was cancelled due to to pressure from Rabbi Zevulun Charlop and other Roshei Yeshiva.

A few 'graphs:
According to Rosenzweig, the Yacovone Band plays clean music and was excited to break into the Yeshiva scene. In fact, the performance was expected to attract around 100 students and a raffle was planned to raise funds for the One Family Fund, an organization dedicated to providing aid for terror victims in Israel. "I wish I knew what they objected to," Rosenzweig said in exasperation. "No one came to me directly with complaints, no one asked about the band or the event."
Rosenzweig claimed that had he been approached by the roshei yeshiva, he would have implemented measures to allay their fears. "We would have agreed to separate the boys and girls," he offered. "The performance had no religious or political agenda, we just wanted the music, the art."
Rosenzweig vowed to host the performance somewhere else at a later date. "Whether they like it or not we'll have a concert," he said, "the question is whether it'll be in the Village or in the safety of our own home."

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Attention Musicologists

The chords for Hava Nagila posted at YUTOPIA include the following disclaimer:
I'm only putting this up here because someone requested it. These chords are for academic purposes only and should not be played by anyone.

Strange Song Requests

At a wedding on Sunday, the band got a request for Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London."

The Klezmatics and Neil Sedaka???

Jewish Music Web Center has a link to a Neil Sedaka interview in Hadassah Magazine. Apparently, he's got an upcoming concert in collaboration with the Klezmatics.

Monday, May 10, 2004

More Linkin Park Than Uncle Moishy

Jewsweek writes about Blue Fringe. Sample 'graph:
As he settles onto the carpeted floor, the discussion turns to the public response to Blue Fringe. 'The way we dress, for some reason, has become an issue,' Rosenblatt says. 'One article written about us called us bookish. Bookish is kind of nerdy, and we don't feel like we're nerdy.' Noticing Rosenblatt's wire-rimmed glasses, you see how that particular journalist might have made his 'bookish' assumption. No, this band is most definitely not bookish. Would Jewish teenage girls be falling over themselves for a bunch of geeks?


The badgers are back and they've brought their bananaphone!

More Jewish OLGA

YUTOPIA has posted some more Jewish guitar chords in honor of Lag Ba'omer.

The chords for Keili Ata, which he attributes to Shlomo Carlebach, appear to be those of the well-known Chabad melody which, needless to say, wasn't composed by Shlomo.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Hip Hop Hora?

The Sun Herald: reports on Jewish mothers taking hip-hop dance classes.
This observation made me laugh:
Soicher's 7-year-old son, when asked, told his mom: 'Actually, I feel pretty stupid for you.'

Double Identity

No wonder he's on the roof! Check this out!

Dr. Octopus is Tevye!
'While filming 'Spider-Man,' I was working with my singing teacher to learn the songs for 'Fiddler.' And one day we were shooting a scene where Doc Ock wakes up on a gurney after tentacle arms have been fused onto him, and I have to scream, and the tentacles are flying, and I'm on wires, coming up like a ghost.
'On the last take, as I was elevated and the tentacles started moving, I sang: ''If I were a rich man ... '
'I think it'll wind up on the DVD.'
Via The Yada Blog

Heavy Metal Maariv?

The Yada Blog has a report on a pastor who "bangs home the message of anger and forgiveness through the music of Metallica."

A comment on the post notes:
The chazzan @ my shul davened to some Black Sabbath melodies last shabbos. Nothing like a lil Iron Man to get the blood flowin'.

Lag Ba'omer Music Clips

The KlezmerShack is linking to a site featuring digitized versions of Lag Ba'omer melodies.
The Lag Ba'omer selection includes versions of Bar Yohai piyyutim and other songs from various Jewish communities as well as Klezmer melodies for the pilgrimage to Miron.

It's Lag Ba'omer and there's a Music 4 Israel event today.

I'm familiar with the Jewish bar bands, but does anyone know anything about "Bubaganoosh", "Kadema", "Afikay Mayim", or "Fallen Heroes?"

The Hateful Lyricist

lgf has a link to an interview with the elementary school teacher who penned the lyrics to the anti-Israel song "I Hate Israel."

Friday, May 07, 2004

Chag Sameach!!!

Today is International Tuba Day!

JM PR Watch

MO Chassid has some priceless JM PR from this week's Five Towns Jewish Week.

And... he now has comments!

JM PR Watch Update

The J-blogosphere gets results... sort of.(sarcasm off)

Yesterday, we noted a singer's website which announced:
As you probably have heard, my debut album hit the stores on Lag B'Omer and has B"H been selling fast.
Only problem is, it's several days before Lag Ba'omer and the album hasn't been released yet.

Well, after being confronted by Velvel, the site has now added an explanation
"In Australia at least -- we are ahead in time you know!
Um, it still ain't Lag Baomer in Australia, yet.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

JM PR Watch

This singer's website features a letter from the artists to his guests. It says:
As you probably have heard, my debut album hit the stores on Lag B'Omer and has B"H been selling fast.
"Ayzehu chacham? Haroeh es hanolad!"

Thanks, E!

Kol Haschalos Kashos

Here's an essay by Rabbi Howard Jachter on The Parameters of Kol Isha. It's an interesting presentation of many sources.

I found it via this post on Hirhurim who is currently discussing the issue. I hope that "Simcha" covers this issue as thoroughly as he did the issue of Women's Prayer Groups, and I recommend taking a look at his archives for the posts. They are quite comprehensive.

A question for the rabbi. Would a synthesized female voice be assur as Kol Isha? Would there be a difference depending on how the synth generates sounds, for instance, via samples, FM, or additive synthesis?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


The Jewish Press interviews Peter Himmelman.

This is interesting:
Today, Himmelman refuses to tour for more than 21 days at a time – a decision he says is necessary to keep his family intact. “Losing my family is not worth a magazine cover,” he said. Himmelman advises aspiring musicians to first get married to ensure that they remain grounded. Describing some of his friends’ inability to settle down, Himmelman says, “It was cool when you are 20, 30, you have a lot of different girlfriends and you’re moving around, but now you’re middle-aged and it’s not so great anymore... in fact, it’s lonely.”
Read the whole thing!

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Now There's New and Improved eBay

Do you buy music gear on eBay? Here's a press release about eBay partnering with the Music Player Network, the publisher of Guitar Player, Bass Player, Keyboard, and EQ magazines. MPN will provide content and a pro audio forum aimed at educating consumers and improving eBay's music division sales.
“This relationship will enhance both companies, and the music community as a whole,” said MPN Vice President Louise Rogers. “It will increase the profile of each Music Player title, resulting in greater value to advertisers. In addition, association with the top music product publications also helps increase eBay's credibility as a great place to find musical instruments, while providing a valuable resource to music buyers on eBay.”
Talk about synergy.

Saudi Hora

“Best of the Web Today” comments on Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's attribution of the recent terror attack in Saudi Arabia to "Zionism."

The Saudi Press Agency reported:
Addressing the gathering, the Crown Prince said the Kingdom is targeted.
"It became clear to us now that Zionism is behind terrorist actions in the Kingdom."
"I can say that I am 95 percent sure of that'', he said. He regretted that Zionism has misled some of our sons.
James Taranto notes:
"It's an age-old story isn't it? Young people lose their way and develop disrespect for their parents and traditional values. They stay out late, they let their hair grow, they listen to heavy metal, or maybe Hebrew pop tunes--and next thing you know, they're stooges of Satan, or, worse yet, Zionists. Oh sure, it's easy for us Americans to feel superior, but isn't this the same thing, more or less, that happened at Columbine?"

Misty Mountain Memories

LILEKS reveals he saw Zep in '77:
Awe. I swear, a semi-circle formed around me. I felt like someone describing my role in a great battle.
And so I looked to the guy next to me to see if he was rocking, but he had turned green, man, and I vowed that he had not rocked in vain so I said WHOOOOOO and the fellow next to me --never saw him before, or after, but I'll never forget him -- he took off his shirt and lit it on fire and waved it around his head like some Viking Bezerker just as Zep crashed into Immigrant Man, and I realized that we would forever pity the men who were not here to rock with us this day, for truly we had rocked in a way few have rocked since.
And for an encore, my friends, they played Stairway to Heaven. No one saw that coming. No one.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Frankly Speaking

Something Jewish interviews trumpeter Frank London.

What To Do???

The definition of chutzpah... choices D or F!

I Remember Klezmer

Ari Davidowreviews Elaine Hofman-Watts' :"I Remember Klezmer."

The concept of a drum doina sounds interesting.