Monday, April 20, 2009

From the mailbag...

Yitzy Spinner writes:
Your recent inclusion of the cell phone at the chuppah peep reminds me of a story that happened a few years back at the Excelsior on Route 9. I was under the chuppah preparing to sing Mi Adir as the groom was walking down the aisle with his parents. It's usually one of the few moments within the entire ceremony when people are actually quiet. My spot by the canopy gave me a great view of what was about to transpire. As luck would have it, as the groom and co. were mid-aisle, a cell phone that seemed to be on full volume rang. It turned out that phone belonged to none other than the groom's father, who then answered it! He kept walking but politely told the caller something to the effect of 'I can't talk now - I'll call you back'!!!
Jeremy Gimbel writes:
The newest album from Jeremy Gimbel & Shira Tirdof, Let it Happen, is available now at !

Here is what people are already saying about Let it Happen:

* "Jeremy Gimbel's music moves your body...and your soul!" -Craig Taubman, "Friday Night Live"
* "This is the Jewish album I've been waiting for!" -Ira Miller, Director of Informal Education, Potomac, MD
* "This CD provides a fantastic blend of liturgy and Torah that you rarely find in today's Jewish music." -Matt Jerome, Youth Director, Plantation, FL
* "An event to be experienced. I laughed, I cried, I spent half an hour trying to nail the female harmony on 'Only Start.'" -Adam Blotner - Song Leader, Los Angeles, CA

Let it Happen, the second studio album from Jeremy Gimbel & Shira Tirdof, presents two meaningful sides of Jewish music. The first half -- "Side A" -- includes five songs that each tell a story. "Salaam Achshav" is about our need to stop merely talking about peace and working together towards our common goals. "Only Start" is a ballad of the possible unrequited love between Eliezer, Abraham's slave who finds Isaac a wife, and Rebecca, the future wife of Isaac. "Joe's Blues" is what Joseph would have sung if his brothers left him with a guitar after they abandoned him. "Make it Through" imagines what was going through Miriam's mind right before the Israelites crossed the sea out of Egypt. Lastly, "By A River" is a melancholy song of the Israelites' emotions after the destruction of the Temple. The second half -- "Side B" -- includes five songs that are musical settings of Jewish prayers. "L'cha Dodi," "Eitz Chayim Hi," and "Adon Olam" are upbeat and fun versions of classic prayers. "Sh'ma" and "Elohai N'tzor" are slower but bring out the emotion of the prayers. All of these melodies are easy to sing by yourself or with a group. Listen and try to open your mind to the possibilities these stories and melodies possess. Let it Happen.

Let it Happen is available now at for $10.

Check it out & thanks for your continued support,
Jeremy Gimbel & Shira Tirdof

E. wants to know who wrote "Niggun Shloime." The mp3 was released to market the Shloime Dach's Orchestra's forthcoming wedding CD. The marketing for that one has been interesting, like the claim that the drummer on the recording, Benny Koonyevsky, is just making a name for himself on the orthodox simcha scene in recent years, playing a number of gigs with the band. In reality, Benny, who has recorded with Avraham Fried and Dbbie Friedman, among others, has been a first-call drummer on the NY simcha scene since at least the early nineties.

karol wrote:
Hi, I came across your blog while looking for Jewish wedding mp3 downloads.  We're getting married this weekend, actually leaving tomorrow, and are in a last-minute scramble to find traditional Jewish wedding songs (Hava Negila, Havenu Shalom Alechem, etc.) for our dj to play.  Any chance you have these and might be willing to send them along to me?
I emailed a link to an an album page at OyTunues. Why do I think Karol wasn't looking to pay for these tracks? Could it be because there was no thank you response?

Itzchak writes:
New CD release:

"HA'OROT-THE LIGHTS OF RAV KOOK" by 'Greg Wall's Later Prophets Featuring Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein'  is now released on Tzadik Records.

The Later Prophets are:
Rabbi Greg Wall on saxophones, clarinet, shofar and moseno (Japanese wooden flute) -"the Jewish John Coltrane".
Shai Bachar- Israeli virtuoso jazz piano player .
Dave Richards- bass .
Aaron Alexander-drums
Rabbi Itzchak-spoken word.

This CD has 12 poem/songs in various combinations of Hebrew and English as well as 2 instrumental two nigunim/melodies that were originally composed and sung by Rav Kook and his circle. (67 minutes of musical Rav Kook Torah).

The CD is being released on Tzadik Records whose founder, John Zorn wrote about it:

"A leading figure in the Jewish music scene for over thirty years, Greg Wall is one of the pioneers in blending Jewish music with jazz. His newest recording with his powerful ensemble Later Prophets is a colorful and provocative mixture of jazz and Jewish poetry and features the spiritual writings of Rabbi Avraham Itzchak HaCohen Kook, recently voted the most influential person in the shaping of modern Israel. Kook was a unique blend of the traditional and modern- and the music follows suit, with funky grooves, improvisations and even a few of Kook's own compositions. With texts read by one of the greatest living scholars of Kook and his milieu, this is an important document of Jewish mysticism."

Cuts from the album can be heard on
A short video clip from their recent concert in NYC can be viewed here.

Reviews and interview about the CD:

The CD ( $20 including s &h) can be acquired through
Payment secured through Pay Pal.

At this time of intense upheaval, Rav Kook offers an illuminating and inspiring understanding of our greatest possibilities and what we need to do to actualize them.

"And a generation will awaken and come to life,

singing to beauty and to life,

and suckling unending delight

from the dew of heaven."
Rav Kook, from 'The Whispers of Existence'
Eitan Katz emails about his newest album and writes
...With this Torah, I released my latest album last month. I felt that each of the nigunim (whether mine or not) had the ability in them to bring the listener to a deeper and more meaningful connection to Hashem. I felt that the nigunim would allow a person to see how deep their neshama really is. And I tell everyone who buys the CD that this is what I felt, but if you don’t feel that way about the nigunim, if you feel they are just commercial and not uplifting, please do me favor- don’t listen to them!
But will he give refunds? You can buy the album here.

Rob Tanenbaum and Sean Altman each wrote to thank me for my post, "Happy Passover, Let's Eat." I neglected to include links to their current projects in that post. You can find Sean at JEWMONGOUS and Rob at GOOD FOR THE JEWS. Now, let's eat!

Steven W. writes:
Miami's "ezri me'im Hashem" sounds very similar to which recent rock song?
Finally, Matt Garville writes:
I thought your readers might be interested in Theodore Bikel’s upcoming benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. Pasted below is the press release for the event.


Broadway and Jewish folk music legend Theodore Bikel to be saluted at Carnegie Hall

“Theodore Bikel: The First 85 Years” – Broadway a legend Theodore Bikel, a lifelong social justice advocate, will celebrate a rich career devoted to art and activism with a star-studded 85th birthday benefit concert at Carnegie Hall. All proceeds will go to the Juvenile Law Center.

Confirmed performers to-date include: Theodore Bikel, Alan Alda, Arlo Guthrie, Rosemary Harris, David Amram, Beyond the Pale, Artie Butler, Patricia Conolly, Judy Kaye, David Krakauer, Tom Paxton, Serendipity 4 (Shura Lipovsky, Merima Kljuco, Tamara Brooks, and Theodore Bikel), Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow, Susan Werner, Michael Wex.

7:30pm Monday, June 15, 2009

Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, New York City

Tickets go on sale April 16th and range from $30 to $500.



June 15th concert to benefit Juvenile Law Center; tickets go on sale April 16th

New York (April 16th) – Broadway and folk legend Theodore Bikel, a lifelong social justice advocate, will celebrate a rich career devoted to art and activism with a star-studded 85th birthday benefit concert at Carnegie Hall on Monday, June 15, 2009.

The concert will benefit Juvenile Law Center ( ), the pioneering, non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting the rights and well-being of children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Bikel will be joined by Alan Alda, Arlo Guthrie, Rosemary Harris, David Amram, Beyond the Pale, Artie Butler, Patricia Conolly, Judy Kaye, David Krakauer, Tom Paxton, Serendipity 4 (Shura Lipovsky, Merima Kljuco, Tamara Brooks, and Theodore Bikel), Noel Paul Stookey and Peter Yarrow, Susan Werner, and Michael Wex. Honorary committee co-chairs for the event include Barbara Cook, Frank Langella, Pete Seeger, John C. Whitehead, and Elie Wiesel.

Bikel made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1956 and went on to forge an extraordinary career as a musician, actor and activist. His stage and screen credits include such classic films as The African Queen and The Defiant Ones and the 1959 Broadway premiere of The Sound of Music, in which he originated the role of Captain Von Trapp. He has performed the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof more than 2,000 times and is currently starring in a national tour of Sholom Aleichem: Laughter through Tears.

A leading light in the folk-music scene of the 1960s, Bikel was a co-founder of the Newport Folk Festival and has been a powerful advocate for peace, human rights, and social justice for more than five decades – from the civil rights movements in the United States to apartheid in South Africa to promoting peace and religious pluralism among Israel and its neighbors.

“Throughout my life I have been equally passionate about music and social justice, and have allied myself with others whose use guitars, banjos, fiddles and words to conquer fear and injustice,” said Bikel. “I can think of no better way to celebrate that life than a night of music with some of my nearest and dearest friends, and no more deserving cause than protecting the rights of our nation’s most vulnerable children.”

All proceeds from the concert will go to Juvenile Law Center, which works to protect children’s rights and interests in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Juvenile Law Center, which provides legal services at no cost to its clients, is currently heading litigation in the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania judges scandal, a court corruption case that has made international news as one of the most egregious violations of children's rights in U.S. legal history. The organization’s work on the case was recently covered by 20/20 (, the New York Times (, and People magazine.

“Theodore Bikel was at the forefront of the social justice movement that led to the creation of organizations like Juvenile Law Center, and we’re awed and honored that he chose to turn his 85th birthday celebration into an incredible gift for us,” said Robert Schwartz, Executive Director of Juvenile Law Center. “Theo is not only helping to promote the rights of people around the world, but also providing a true inspiration the vulnerable children who seek justice and protection.”

Tickets go on sale April 16th and range from $30 to $500. A pre concert VIP reception for performers to mingle with sponsors, major donors, and box seat ticket holders will be held in the Rohatyn Room at Carnegie Hall.

About Juvenile Law Center
Founded in 1975, Juvenile Law Center ( ) is the oldest multi-issue public interest law firm for children in the United States. With an approach grounded in principles of adolescent development, Juvenile Law Center uses the law on behalf of youth in the child welfare and criminal and juvenile justice systems to promote fairness, prevent harm, ensure access to appropriate services and create opportunities. Juvenile Law Center uses an array of legal and other advocacy strategies to ensure that the child welfare, juvenile justice, and other public systems provide vulnerable children with the protection and services they need to become healthy and productive adults. In 2008, Juvenile Law Center was one of eight organizations around the world to receive the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.