Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reb Shlomo

I attended a Carlebach Shabbos this week. To be frank, it was a little disappointing. The actual Carlebach tunes were of course beautiful and sung well by the chazzon, a singer brought in for the occasion. But it was only about Kabbalas Shabbos. And the after dinner tisch/kumsitz/sing- a- long. Shabbos morning, his big singing was Kedusha in Musaf. But it was nice to go to shul on Friday night (admission! I am female!) .This is a shul where most of the people are 50+. There are a few with young kids, but many people have moved away, and the neighborhood is not one that has a lot of young people with growing families moving in.

What was disappointing? When I think of Carlebach of my younger days, like when he was alive, the people who danced at his concerts or get togethers were, um, well, odd. Groupies, hippies, lost souls, or probably people like myself and husband, regular frum who felt an emotional tug and appeal to the rather bohemian side of life, but always as observers, and not active participants. Part of the enthrallment and electricity in the air was waiting to see who all was close to Reb Shlomo, and who his followers were, and what the crowd was like. And there was probably a faint sickly sweet smell wafting over the audience, but I was clueless about that.

I attended a "private" performance when I was in high school. Carlebach played at a local nursing home. I went with a friend and two siblings. And a lot of people snoring in wheelchairs.

I won free tickets to a Shlomo Carlebach concert Tanis Esther, 1988. How do I remember the date?
1. I could not find a babysitter because it was Ta'anis Esther night
2. I had one child, and I wheeled her, in her portable crib, up to my neighbor, via elevator.

(too, many, commas, I , know. Whatever,?!")

We got to the concert.
1. Carlebach was late.

2. extremely late

3. Someone had to run and get his guitar

4. He apologized for having a slight cold

5. He sang one song for 45 minutes

6. He asked the audience to come down and move closer and come on stage, and

7. Someone in a clown costume did, and spend most of the 45 minutes doing wobbly handstands and waving his feet in the air. Blocking my view of the hoarse Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach playing and singing five words (Dovid Melech Yisroel Chai Vekayom) on his bad guitar.

THAT was a Carlebach experience.

So no fault of the congregants of this shul who grew up with Carlebach and love his music and wanted to enjoy the intense spiritual nature of his songs, in the comfort of their shul, with their families, on a cold Friday night. And it WAS warm and beautiful and haunting tunes. And it WAS nice when the men all joined hands and danced around the Bima for a while.

But it just wasn't as authentic as when Reb Shlomo would sing and women with wild hair and colorful skirts and no socks, and men who looked not quite like men and had lost looks in their eyes and seemed gaunt or starved would shuffle around or break into a spontaneous foot maneuvers. And I felt sad because we seem old. And I don't think anyone under 30 really enjoys the Carlebach weekends.

And also, I am so irked that Carlebach is now accepted and played and almost revered by right wing musicians, when he was practically ignored by the mainstream when he was alive. I am an elitist and a snob. A purist. And I loved Carlebach music when it was played and sung by Carlebach.

And I am not so bohemian. And I do a lot of mainstream things. And that is probably the real reason why I enjoyed but also felt sad singing along with the Carlebach shabbos.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chinese Auctions meet the Emperor's New Clothes

You may think winter has arrived because of the ice and snow and weekly school closings. Uh Uh.

Check your mailboxes- this is how we know it's winter:

Chinese Auctions. aka Legal Frum Gambling. aka The Great Black Hole of Gashmius.

I have really been content with my old yellow gold jewelry, but I feel I am just not part of this millenium and the Sophisticated and Classy set from Brooklyn- because I don't have a SINGLE piece of jewelry from David Rudy. and by the way, do they include a bright halogen light bulb with the diamonds? On a miner's hat, so every time you bend your head it can sparkle and shine?

I would love to meet Ben Barber. Does he know how inadequate my own sheets feel? (yes I meant that the way I wrote it). And by the way, does Mr. Barber ever make any money selling anything? Or is it all donated to all the auctions? And any sheet less than 350 count, or from some mid east country besides Egypt, forget it. Who really wants 180 thread count from Damascus?

I have no problem with the Israel tickets- though nothing can compete with the Bais Yakov in Chicago which now offers 10 tickets, hotel stay for ten days, full breakfast AND lulav and esrog mehudar Is that because only big families can usually afford to go to Israel for Succos, so that's who the tickets are catering to? Oh, no! It's to give the poor families a chance to do what every neighbor is doing, so why should they feel left out? But really, about trips to Israel? Always worth buying a raffle.

We next have the electronics package: GPS, Camcorder, Computers. I don't know why they refuse to offer a DVD player. Everyone is obviously watching movies. Or maybe not! The movies they take on the camcorder are home movies. And the computers all have DVD players, so that's covered. And besides, we are only watching camp reunions, high school plays, and Aguda Convention Keynote Speakers. ha ha

Around the Year: this can mean a few things: sterling silver for all Yomim Tovim: Esrog box, Seder Plate, Megilla Case, Menorah.

Or spend yomtov in...Eretz Yisrael for Succos, Lakewood for Shevuos (why is that appealing?)Hotel for Pesach, Hotel for summer vacation.

I like this new and novel one: A Mitzvah That Has Been Around for Quite a While But Someone Discovered it Anew: Shmitta. Own Karka in Eretz Yisrael to do this mitzva. Which by itself is a great idea, but somehow, seeing it in a Chinese Auction booklet demeans the beauty of the mitzva.

Don't forget the second tier jewelry- less diamonds, smaller pictures, therefore, obviously, for a teen.


and hello kitty! stuff? how tacky.

It wouldn't have that ehrlech and refined taste if the auctions didn't include a painting, lithograph, or visit to a rav or rebba.

I have some ideas for new additions:
1. A housekeeper to go with all the silver. Takes a long time to polish a 13 branch candelabra.

2. A Sefer Torah. Why dance with the shul Sefer Torah for only one Hakafa on Simchas Torah? Have your own and dance whenever you want!

3. A Succah room addition. Although the Lakewood Chinese Auction was stopped in its tracks, their booklet showed how much nicer our homes could look, with new moldings, railings, and windows. This would be a great way to include some of their great ideas, but through a mitzva like Succos, so no one feels they are spending money frivolously. And if you have a Simchas Beis Hashoeva or Parlor meeting in this Succah room, then everyone will say, "...but they do so much chesed".

And now to my title of this particular blog entry:

The biggest coup, the smartest move, t h e m o s t c l e v e r idea for a chinese auction ever, the brilliant concept, goes to ...

"The winner of this entry gains the knowledge that they have given soley for the mitzva". Didn't get that? This entry wins nothing. At least nothing tangible, that can be worn, sat on, slept on, looked at, shown off, talked about,talked on, played with, listened to, brushed, cleaned, polished, inserted in your car, your phone, your computer, your home, your home office, your library. You just get the reward of the mitzva.


and I assume you all get the connection to the title now...