Friday, April 30, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
L’DOR VADOR NAGID GODLECHA – “To all generations we will declare Your greatness, and for all eternity proclaim Your holiness. Your praise, O God, shall never depart from our lips.”
From the liturgy, we get this great tagline – l’dor vador (“from generation to generation”) which has become widely used in Jewish circles to designate, describe, and even define the significance of transmitting tradition from one generation to the next. It’s been used to underscore fundraising efforts; to speak of creating programmatic and institutional legacies; and yes, this phrase is even employed to assuage the guilt of disinterested adults who feel they are “forced” to expend time and energy providing Jewish experience for their children in order to please or appease their aging parents (ugh, this is certainly a challenge in our society).
I feel the best claim of this term (and this concept) is when we simply appreciate the magic of the stories that older people share with their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. And yes, in today’s world, when so many of us have faced our loved ones being saddled with various degrees of dementia, how precious it is for us to embrace and cherish the stories that are able to be handed down.
So here’s a great one, in my eyes: this week, we were up in
BIRTH OF A
Wow – as Grandma Leah continued telling of her early movie-going experiences, I could only sit back and reflect “this lady’s seen it all.” She’s witnessed the emergence of the automobile as central to our society; airline flight; radio and TV; all the various wars and conflicts of our time; the great achievements in science, technology and culture; and the struggles regarding child labor, education, civil rights, the women’s movement and more. And this is without even mentioning the revolution brought to us through computers and the internet. I hope the kids were listening, even somewhat as interested as I was.
It really is a gift to hear such stories. When we listen and learn from them, these accounts become part of our story – it’s as if we can extend our own lifetime back into them, and even such things that we didn’t know or see personally enrich us as well. For Grandma Leah, though her birthday is a few month away: ad me'ah v'esrim - may you be strong at least to 120!
So next time your favorite (fill in the blank with that older relative who loves to talk) starts up with one of those time-worn tales, sit back, listen and enjoy. You too will be blessed, l’dor vador, from one generation to the next.
Got a great anecdote from an older relative? Please share, we’d love to hear.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Jazz is Jewish. I’m convinced. With its defining motif of improvisation over set melody, jazz represents the dynamic tensions that underlie Judaism: keva vs. kavannah – the standard liturgy of prayer and the intentionality and baggage that each worshipper brings to it; sacred scripture and the midrashic interpretation that has enriched it throughout the ages; halakhah (“ritual law”) and its ever-emerging implementation in practice. All these demonstrate the inventiveness and creativity that have been inherent in Judaism through the ages.
The seasons and their holidays also illustrate this imaginative feature of Jewish tradition. From the weekly gift of Shabbat to the pilgrimage festivals to the way which times of year are marked in the prayer book, we continue to evolve, so that Jewish living remains vibrant and meaningful, its continually refreshed approaches responsive to the times while maintaining the richness of time-honored values and teachings. Take the Passover seder, for example, perhaps the greatest instance of tradition augmented by newness in every age. That is, the greatest instance of Jewish jazz (for more on the specifics of Passover creativity, see the previous post).
It seems timely and appropriate that right now, during chol ha-mo’ed pesach, the intermediary days of Passover, as winter turns to spring (as if on cue here in N. Indiana), as March turns to April, we are treated to the launch of Jazz Appreciation Month (for more, go to http://www.smithsonianjazz.org/jam/jam_start.asp or http://www.apassion4jazz.net/jam.html). How wonderful – a whole month dedicated to appreciating this uniquely American art form that draws its inspiration (at least as I’m arguing) in part from the depth of Judaism.
So what I’d like to know as we enjoy the true coming of spring: what’s the greatest, most influential, most meaningful, or simply COOLEST innovation you’ve witnessed in religious practice, in society or politics, or in how we live our lives. While you’re at it, why don’t you share your favorite jazz artist, album or performance. And let’s keep the jazz going…