Tuesday, July 27, 2004

JM Chesed Stories

This afternoon I watched the OU Tisha B'Av video presentation on chesed. In that spirit, I'd like to focus on aspects of JM chesed that the public is not aware of.

Many people know that many Jewish performers regularly volunteer their time to perform for sick people who are homebound or in the hospital. Some are also aware of musicians volunteering their services in cases of financial need. These both occur quite frequently.

Personally, I've asked numerous musicians to volunteer their time over the years,and the response has been amazing. Not only have almost all the musicians I've contacted agreed to perform for free; many have even spent money out of pocket to do so. And, there are many musicians who, whenever I see them, remind me to be sure and call them again for these performances.

There's more, though.

On aspect of chesed in the JM community which many people aren't aware of is the way musicians help out other musicians in need. I am aware of instances where an extra musician was added to a band by the bandleader as a way of secretly directing money towards a musician in need. In the cases that I know of , the cost was directly absorbed by the bandleader/band and not the client. One of the highest levels of tzedaka is giving someone without them being aware that they are the recepient of charity. I even know musicians who do this knowing that when other musician gets a call for his own gig, he won't reciprocate by calling them for the job.

In a similar vein, I am aware of bandleaders who have chosen to call one musician over another for a given gig because that person is having a hard time financially. And, I know musicians who will accept jobs they'd never take from another office, from a bandleader who is struggling, just to enable him to have a good gig and book more work.

Another way that many JM musicans do chesed is way they relate towards those with mental or emotional disabilities. There are many such people who are very into music and appreciate being on "first name terms" with Jewish music singers and musicians. In many cases, they'll call or email quite frequently to keep in contact with their JM friends. It has aways been inspiring to me to see how many in the JM community interact with these individuals. They find time to shmooze with them on the phone or IM/e-mail them on line. Many send free copies of their latest CD's to these people, and some even thank them in their liner notes. Also, many JM entertainers have sent free sheet music to someone who can't really read it... just because it makes him feel good.

There's a lot more... but I'll stop here for now.

If anyone has any chesed stories to contribute, we'll be glad to post them here.