web analytics
August 20, 2014 / 24 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘song’

Flip Your Latkes In The Air: A Cappella Group’s Chanukah Video Passes 2 Million YouTube Hits

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

It’s another Chanukah miracle: a small group of Jewish men defy the odds and emerge victorious. But this time there was no war, no bloodshed and instead of an army of Maccabees, the conquering heroes are the a cappella group Maccabeats, 14 current and former students from Yeshiva University. Their hit song “Candlelight,” a take-off on Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” has gone viral and reached over two million hits on YouTube in just 10 days.

 

Founded four years ago by Michael Greenberg, who is still a member of the Maccabeats, their debut album “Voices From The Heights,” released this past March, was a modest success. It took eight months for their first music video that posted online – “One Day,” a version of the Matisyahu hit song – to reach 100,000 hits on YouTube. That song was recorded in one of the singer’s closets.

 

But the success of “Candlelight” has been nothing short of meteoric, and mostly unprecedented for an Orthodox-themed song from an Orthodox group.

 

“We figured it would have a nice following in Yeshiva University, maybe in the centrist Orthodox community, but we never expected anything like this,” said Julian Horowitz, the 23-year-old musical director of the Maccabeats. “Immanuel Shalev, our associate director, came up with idea and we ran with it. After all, with a name like Maccabeats, Chanukah is definitely our holiday.”

 

Fellow Maccabeat, 22-year-old Ari Lewis, a Richmond, Virginia senior who is majoring in business management, concurs. “It has been such a crazy ride. We were dreaming of maybe one day getting 750,000 hits. We never expected to hear it on the radio, or see it in the New York Times.”

 

In fact, the Maccabeats are everywhere these days. CBS local news, NBC local news, Wall Street Journal, cnn.com, the home pages of both MTV and AOL, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, the Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, and on and on. The New York Times reports that the song has also been played by radio stations Z-100 and WPLJ.

 

The song itself, filmed and edited by Uri Westrich, a Mount Sinai Medical Student, with lyrics by Maccabeats’ Shalev and David Block, manages to synthesize the story of Chanukah in a way that has across the board appeal. The pop sound and visually-appealing images are safe enough to appeal to the Orthodox crowd, but the well-produced video is professional enough to impress non-religious Jews, unaffiliated Jews and non-Jews as well.

 

Buri Rosenberg of Monsey, another undergraduate Maccabeat, theorizes that the success of Candlelight comes from “making something that is ‘poppy’ but at the same time meaningful.”

 

Feedback from the public has been overwhelming, and the Maccabeats are taking turns answering the e-mails that keep pouring in. 

 

“I get e-mails saying ‘you made me observe Chanukah for the first time in 20 years,’” said Horowitz. “We are touching people who are frum and people who aren’t frum but are moving in that direction. If you just put a little thought into making religion a little fun and a little relevant you can touch so many people in so many ways.”

 

“I must have answered 100 e-mails today,” said Lewis. “And by the time I was done, there must have been another 100 new ones.  It has been so phenomenal and we have gotten so much positive feedback, from parents about their kids, from teachers about their students, from Orthodox Jews, unaffiliated Jews, non-Jews, so many emotional comments. We feel so special that we were able to touch so many people’s lives.”

 

The Maccabeats continue to share their special brand of music with the public, appearing this past week at Flatbush High School, Manhattan Day School and at Prime KO. They will also be appearing at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse at on Sunday, December 26. For more information, check out the Maccabeats on Facebook.

 

 

Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various Jewish newspapers, magazines and websites in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several full-scale productions.  She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com.

Shuttling Between Yeshiva And Recording Studio

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

   Zevi Kaufman is not your typical singer/songwriter. While most singers find themselves in and out of the recording studio in the final weeks before the release of their album, Kaufman finds himself in and out of the Beis Medrash at Yerushalayim’s Yeshivas Aderes Hatorah, where the 20-year-old Flatbush native is currently learning.

 

   Kaufman’s style is also anything but typical. His debut album, “Music Language of My Soul,” is one of those rare efforts that manages to push the envelope just enough, without ever crossing the boundaries of good taste. His unique compositions have a universal appeal and are edgy enough to appeal to those who don’t necessarily embrace mainstream Jewish music without ever sacrificing even an ounce of Yiddishe ta’am, resulting in songs that have a universal appeal. Half the songs on this album are in English with lyrics that are hopeful and inspiring, each one bearing a message of its own. Every song on the album is accompanied by a d’var Torah, each one dedicated to someone who clearly had a tremendous impact on Kaufman’s life.

 

   While Kaufman, a Miami Boys Choir alumnus who also sang with Avrumi Flamm, has been singing all his life, he began composing songs about the time of his bar mitzvah. Over the past seven years his songs have offered both solace and encouragement to so many people that Kaufman decided it was time to put out an album and share his positive messages with the world. Kaufman credits his rosh yeshiva and rebbeim from Yeshiva of Far Rockaway where he learned for five years for inspiring him with ideas of chizuk and mussar from the Navardik school of thought.

 

   “Each melody has a neshama,” said Kaufman in an overseas phone call between sedarim at his yeshiva. “Each song on this album is packaged differently, to appeal to all different types of people. I wrote these songs as expressions of chinuch and mussar, to be mechazek myself, but my real goal is to be mechazek as many people as possible.”

 

   While there are some big names involved in this project, including Yisroel Lamm, Ruli Ezrachi, Aryeh Kunstler, Ian Freitor and Tony Coluccio, numerous members of Kaufman’s very talented family were heavily involved in this album as well. Cousin Shloime Kaufman plays a major part in this project, serving not only as producer but also doing choir work, vocals, arranging and mixing. Both Kaufman’s younger brother Yechiel and his father Meir contribute vocals to the album, with the senior Kaufman composing the only two songs on the album that aren’t composed by Zevi. Both of Kaufman’s parents are featured as executive producers on the album as well.

 

   Shloime Kaufman confesses to being inspired by his younger cousin.

 

   “You don’t end up having the talent of melody and lyrics for nothing. Your job in life is to use your talents and Zevi wants to help people by strengthening their emunah and bitachon. This album is all about kiruv, bringing every person closer to Hashem, with songs that people can relate to, produced in a way that will appeal to people all across the spectrum. This is an album with meaning and if it lights a spark and inspires even a single person, it will have been a success.”

 

   Meir Kaufman, a Brooklyn dentist, is himself a soloist in his own right, having sung not only with both Pirchei and Sdei Chemed choirs but at the wedding of R’ Eli Teitelbaum, z”l, as well. He is clearly very proud of his talented progeny. “Zevi not only composed almost all of these songs, he wrote the words to many of them as well. Lyrics have the power to touch people’s souls. They even have the power to save people when they are going through a difficult time. Each one of these songs is about understanding life and focusing on what is important in life. Have an appreciation for time. Spend it wisely. Cherish what you have and thank G-d for everything that you have.”

 

   The album which is distributed by Aderet Music, is available in both CD and download format on mostlymusic.com.

 

 

   Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who has written for various Jewish newspapers, magazines and websites in addition to having written song lyrics and scripts for several full scale productions. She can be contacted at sandyeller1@gmail.com.

Crossword Puzzle – A Very Beatles Chanukah

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

 

Across

1. Salsa, e.g.

4. Uncommon contraction

7. Mountain or morning

10. Possible URL ender

13. Eggs

14. Not a tribesman?

15. Second oldest name

16. One ___ customer

17. Beatles song about a Maccabee leader?

19. Fight

20. Legal org.

21. aka honey wine

22. Nice thread

23. Fire

24. He had 10 partners in crime

26. Bud

27. Common bread in Israel

28. Havdalah spice, perhaps

30. Unlike a bland cholent

32. “Who ___?”, New Orleans slogan

33. With 9-Down, basic Beatles song about Chanukah?

35. Sawyer’s pal

37. Exuding moisture

38. Beatles song about the Maccabean rebellion?

42. Sight of future Olympic games

45. Helps

46. Occupation for many great tzaddikim

49. Ring

50. Mode predecessor

51. Indian coin

52. Diamond, to some

53. “If I ___ a rich…”

55. Desire

56. Pagans worshipped it

57. Summer drink

58. Beatles song about the animals associated with the Greeks?

61. De___tive (sleuth)

62. Wear shatnez, perhaps

63. Big Aussie bird

64. Place to put a baby

65. Watch

66. School org.

67. Mimic

68. Age

 

Down

1. Homerian exclamation

2. “___ got a bad feeling about this”

3. Something to remit

4. Tropical lizard

5. Sweeney of Broadway

6. Ink

7. Bad guy in Christianity

8. Like 7-Down

9. See 33-Across

10. Photoshop option for clarity

11. Some coupons

12. Province and city in Spain

18. Pirate and war hero Lafitte

22. Said zemirot

24. Letters for those who are overly particular

25. Spy org.

26. Use a pocket laser?

27. Drama or comedy, e.g.

29. Restaurants have them

30. Sekilah item

31. Wood shaping tool

34. Big fuss

35. Thwart

36. Sick

38. Nazis, e.g.

39. One taken from a burning building

40. Combining atomic power, in chemistry

41. Emerald land

42. Kind of cold-blooded animal

43. Anger

44. Praising poem

47. City of the Maharal

48. Like many framed items

50. Locale for many an NBA game

53. Hornet kin

54. Get ready for publishing

55. Not a macho man

58. Snow veggie

59. Van Gogh took one off

60. Relaxing locale

 

(Answers, next week)

The Eternity Of Israel

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

            Gradually but energetically, the circle of worshipers made its way around the interior of Krakow’s medieval Rema synagogue, their voices rising ever more forcefully in song and prayer.

 

            Stirred on by the inspiring Sabbath melodies, they joined hands and thrust their feet forward in unison, filling the space with a dynamic, yet gentle, passion.

 

            “Merciful Father, draw Your servant closer to Your will,” they sang, as the words of the 16th-century Yedid Nefesh hymn cascaded throughout the room. “Illuminate the world with Your glory, that we may rejoice,” they chanted.

 

            Just as Jews have been doing for centuries, the celebrants welcomed the figurative Sabbath bride with a mixture of pomp and elation.

 

            But this was no ordinary Friday night service.

 

            Over 70 years ago, this city had been captured by the Nazis, who mercilessly ransacked it and hunted down local Jews with the aim of erasing the name of Israel from under the heavens.

 

            But recently, that name was alive and well in the Rema synagogue’s sanctuary, as some 150 “hidden Jews” from across Poland gathered to reclaim the precious heritage that is rightfully theirs.

 

            They were in Krakow to attend a special seminar convened by Shavei Israel, the organization I chair, to enable them to reconnect with their roots.

 

            Indeed, something special is taking place in Poland these days. Against all odds, a nascent revival is underway, as increasing numbers of Poles are rediscovering their Jewish roots and looking for ways to rejoin our people.

 

            Some were raised as Catholics, only to learn later in life that their biological parents or grandparents were Jews. Others knew they were Jewish, but chose to hide their identity because of their families’ experiences under Nazism and Communism.

 

            There is Jacek, a young man in his early 20s from the city of Wroclaw, who first learned he was Jewish just a few years ago.

 

            One evening, while watching a television program about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict together with his mother, she offhandedly said to him, “now you know why my nose is so large.”

 

            The news struck him like a thunderbolt, particularly since he knew that his maternal great-grandfather had been a German who had served in the Wehrmacht during World War II. Nonetheless, his great-grandfather had married a Jewess, meaning that Jacek’s grandmother, mother – and, yes, Jacek too, – are all Jewish according to Jewish law.

 

            He now proudly wears a large Star of David around his neck and attends synagogue regularly.

 

            Then there is Esther, a young woman from Krakow, who only learned of her family’s Jewishness last summer, when her maternal grandmother lay on her deathbed and told her the shocking news.

 

            With the fall of the Iron Curtain, and Poland’s embrace of democracy, people feel freer to delve into their past, and to express themselves as Jews.

            And so, after two or even three generations in which untold numbers of Polish Jews sought to hide their identity, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren have now started to come back.

 

            Can anyone possibly doubt the eternity of Israel?

 

            As the Friday night service in the Rema synagogue continued, I thought of how, just an hour away, to the west of Krakow, stands the death camp of Auschwitz. It was there that part of my family, along with millions of other holy Jews, were so cruelly murdered by the Germans and their henchmen. And my heart began to sink.

 

            But then I looked around me and watched in awe as the reawakened remnants of Polish Jewry recited an impassioned version of the Lecha Dodi prayer.

 

            “Wake up! Wake up! For your light has come,” they intoned, “awake, awake and utter a song, for the glory of the Lord is upon you.”

 

            The “hidden Jews” of Poland are truly awakening, and it is incumbent upon us to help them. We must reach out to them and encourage them, and restore them to our people.

 

            In Ezekiel, Chapter 37, God promised to bring life to the dry bones of His people Israel, saying: “I will open your graves and bring you up from them and I will bring you back to the land of Israel . I will put my spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land.”

 

            Seven decades after the Holocaust, we are privileged to be witnessing the fulfillment of this verse. These bones are coming to life once again, as the Jewish spirit within burns ever brighter.

 

            Our task now is to open the door and welcome them back as they finally make the long journey home.

 

            Michael Freund, whose Jewish Press-exclusive column ordinarily appears the third week of each month (this month being an obvious exception), served as deputy director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu from 1996 to 1999. He is founder and chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people. 

A Rabbi’s Rabbi Shares His Seder Secrets

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

The ideal drashah (sermon) combines science and art.

There is the scientific component, where the darshan embodies deep and authentic Jewish scholarship: breadth of knowledge, methodology, and faithfulness to tradition. Equally significant are the artistic elements of the drashah: eloquence, presentation, and a penetrating understanding of one’s intended audience.

It is no easy feat to compose good Pesach sermons. One must envision creative twists to well-trodden ancient texts, emerging with new understandings that educate, inspire, and delight.

As an accomplished scholar, and armed with a lifetime of experience as a community rabbi and then president and rosh hayeshiva of Yeshiva University, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm brings all his credentials as a master darshan to our Pesach Sedarim in his newly published commentary on the Haggadah, The Royal Table (OU Press).

Perhaps the core philosophy of this treasure-trove of insights can be identified in Dr. Lamm’s interpretation of the preface to the first half of the Hallel (Psalms 113-114), where we promise to sing a “new song” (shirah chadashah).

Dr. Lamm expresses amazement that this “new” song is none other than “the old, tried, worn Hallel.” His response: “Our people throughout the ages have instinctively understood that the rhythm of Torah combines the old and the new new insights are possible, insights that come with age and wisdom and experience . We must keep the old in sight; perceive in it the new through Insight; and as a result learn – to excite our souls and galvanize our spirits.”

That interplay between tradition and creativity receives magnificent expression throughout his elucidations of the classical Haggadah text.

Dr. Lamm stresses that ethical living is central to Judaism: “The highest form of creativity is neither intellectual nor artistic; it is ethical.” Elsewhere he even converts the korech sandwich into a lesson in balancing the different elements of our personalities – represented by the symbols of matzah and marror – to achieve perfection. Extremes must be avoided.

There is a talmudic debate about whether we should begin the negative aspect of the storytelling from our physical slavery or from our idolatrous origins. Instead of tackling that debate, Dr. Lamm explores a more basic question. If the Talmudic sages cannot even agree on so fundamental a point, how can we ever speak about “tradition”?

Dr. Lamm answers that uncertainty provokes machloket l’Shem Shamayim (debate for the sake of Heaven), and that uncertainty coupled with ongoing study makes life more interesting and energizing.

Religious existentialism emerges in the discussion of the plague of darkness. Darkness and solitude can indeed be a plague, and this is how the Egyptians perceived it. However, one with a healthier perspective finds blessing in moments of solitude. Loneliness can be painful, but also can become a creative opportunity to hear the voice of God and discover ourselves.

Dr. Lamm infuses ironic meaning into our practice of reclining. We recline as a relic from the Roman period, when nobles did so on couches while they dined. In an age of great technological advances such as chairs, however, of what value is this fossilized custom?

Dr. Lamm responds that our Seder is profoundly lacking because there is no Temple, and it was the ancient Romans who destroyed it. We shall not allow that destruction to undo us as a people.

Our response is to celebrate a living tradition from the era of the Temple with a Roman practice, while that once invincible Roman Empire is long gone.

Along with his perspicacious discussion of the Four Children, Dr. Lamm delights the reader with another section that outlines traits of the Four Parents. Education should not be focused exclusively on children and their respective differences. Rather, our continuity as a people depends heavily on the religious-educational attitudes of parents and how they speak to their children.

Dr. Joel Wolowelsky has provided an invaluable service in reading Dr. Lamm’s sermons, selecting and abridging them, and placing them alongside the text of the Haggadah as a running commentary. He also has succeeded in retaining Dr. Lamm’s authentic voice (as stated in the general introduction, Dr. Lamm reviewed the volume).

The Royal Table is a veritable gold mine for rabbis and educators. In addition to the wealth of insight, it is a consummate model as to what makes a great drashah. The Royal Table similarly is a welcome addition for all committed Jews seeking to enhance their Sedarim and ultimately their personal religious growth. The book is accessible to Jews of all backgrounds, as Dr. Lamm combines his hallmark eloquence and subtlety with clarity and a keen understanding of a diverse Jewish community.

Singing God’s Praises: An Interview With Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

There are dozens of English-translated siddurim on bookshelves these days. Surely, you may think, we don’t need another one. But before you make up your mind, consider that the new one that has just come out is translated by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Kingdom. Rabbi Sacks, who also wrote a commentary and introduction, has been a consistently brilliant source of insight into Jewish philosophy, Chumash, and other topics.

The new Koren Sacks Siddur features the chief rabbi’s signature style of sharing with the reader a compelling and intelligent perspective – in this case, obviously, on the siddur and the Jewish idea of prayer. For example, most readers (the siddur is geared to a modern Orthodox audience) may already know that prayer and the ancient service in the Beit Hamikdash are strongly linked. However, how many would make the simple but completely original argument that “sacrifice could not be less like prayer” because one was historically quite spontaneous and varied and the other rule-heavy?

One of the main points that Rabbi Sacks emphasizes, in both the translation and the commentary, is the infrequently-mentioned doctrine of prayer as song. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is in the end-of-mussaf prayer “Anim Zemiros,” where Rabbi Sacks translates the rhyming couplets as rhyming couplets in English as well.

The Jewish Press recently sat down with Rabbi Sacks to speak about what his siddur can accomplish, what he hopes to write next, and how his words sing.

The Jewish Press: Why do we need another English-translated siddur?

Rabbi Sacks: One of my beliefs about prayer is that the text should stay the same, but the melodies should change with every generation. Every generation needs language that speaks to it, to have a commentary that inspires it.

This is what we’ve set out to do with the Koren Sacks Siddur: to create a new translation that lets the words breathe a little, lilt a little, cascade a little, sing for this generation. And to add an introduction and commentary that do what no other siddur I have ever found adequately does – address important questions: What is prayer? What is it to pray? What is the journey of prayer? In the Koren Sacks Siddur, we’ve created a new translation to make prayer accessible and meaningful to this generation and the next.

Can one siddur do all this?

Not in and of itself. This Koren Sacks Siddur is part of a larger project including music, video, a website. For the siddur that I worked on in England, we made a CD with new liturgical music. I gave it to people who said it changed the whole way in which they pray. The Koren Sacks Siddur is the core of the project, the foundation.

How long did you work on the siddur?

I worked on the Koren Sacks Siddur for three years. It came about through a bit of serendipity. Koren Publishers’s CEO, Matthew Miller, read the British one, and asked me to work on an American version. (The American nusach is very different from the British: England follows Central European traditions; America follows Eastern European traditions.) I worked with Koren closely and beautifully. It was, and continues to be, a very happy marriage. And it was a pleasure – it’s a lot of fun to work with perfectionists.

The layout is very distinct. The Koren Sacks Siddur is the most beautiful siddur I’ve ever seen. The typography is gorgeous. Sometimes prayer is poetry and sometimes it’s prose. In this siddur, the prose reads like prose, and the poetry reads like poetry. The layout produces the subliminal effect of allowing you to feel the music of prayer. Prayer at its height is song. Prayer is a three-movement symphony.

As opposed to other translated siddurim, the Hebrew in this siddur is on the left-hand rather than the right-hand page.

Yes. You get used to it to right away. And it really works. Having the Hebrew on the left and the English on the right enables you to move seamlessly between the two languages and allows the page, and you, to breathe.

You’ve also added some customs for women.

Way back in history, women didn’t come to shul. The Altneu Shul in Prague, for example, was built without a women’s gallery. But times are different and the siddur needs to reflect this. So we included the feminine form of the prayer Modeh Ani and a Zeved Habas prayer upon the birth of a daughter and other things. It’s amazing that none of this was done before.

Are you planning any more translations of classical works?

Next in line is the Koren Chumash (a companion to the Koren Sacks Siddur), and with long life, Koren Machzorim. Koren also is bringing out a Kinnos Tisha B’Av.

You have many duties, and yet you’ve still published a dozen or so books. Where do you find the time?

I have a wonderful wife and a wonderful office. And I write the books in the summers instead of taking time off. My next book, Future Tense: A Vision for Jews and Judaism in the Global Culture, will be out soon.

Many readers do not necessarily consider rabbis to be graceful prose stylists…

Words sing. God created the material world with words. And we create social worlds with words, and, rachmana litzlan, we can destroy social worlds with words. That’s why Chazal were very careful about lashon hara and insisted on lashon nekiyah.

Nobody has ever made words of song in praise of God like Moshe in Devarim, Dovid in Tehillim, Yeshaya, like the books of Tanach. And Jewish prayer sings – something I hope I’ve brought out in this siddur.

The Chabad Cookbook – The Most Prized in My Collection

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I collect cookbooks the way other people collect coins, shot glasses, or miniature teaspoons. I began my cookbook collection a few weeks before our wedding, and today, I know it intimately. I know in which book to find which recipe, which book has the best pictures, and even which one lays flat when opened, making it easier to read while cooking.

I can also tell you which book is my favorite, which was my first purchase, and which I use most often. My Spice and Sprit; the Complete Kosher Jewish Cookbook by the ladies of the Lubavitch community, probably known better by its semi-official title, “The Purple Book”, holds pride of place in my collection. Not only was it my first cookbook, but it is also highly esteemed, because its older, yellow version was my mother’s first cookbook. The yellow cookbook kept my mother’s already kosher kitchen “heimische” no matter where in the world we were living.

The book has accompanied me on a veritable cooking odyssey, from spicy cheese lasagne to summer fruit soup. At other times, it has led me through the details of rolling knish dough and kneading challah. I have traveled to China with lemon chicken and South America with empanadas. I once asked my mother if the Lubavitch women had collected their recipes from all the different Chabad houses around the globe. My mom said she wouldn’t have been surprised, though she couldn’t possibly imagine which national cuisine had spawned “beer-batter-covered deep fried meatballs.” The Purple cookbook is a highly recommended addition to any cook’s reference library, from novice to Michelin-starred chef.

My early childhood was spent in Caracas. The Chabad House in Caracas was like a second home to me. It was a fun-filled place to go on a Sunday morning. My mother would teach arts and crafts in the back room, my brothers would run in and out of rooms teasing each other and anyone else who came past them. While the younger kids were busy making cardboard marionettes or yarn pompoms, the older ones played educational games or learned Torah with the Chabad emissaries. On one memorable rainy Sunday, a young Chabad emissary taught us South American kids how to play his new American game, “Twister”. I can still remember us as young kids, hopelessly tangled, with the young Chabadnik laughing along with us.

The summers in Caracas were spent traveling back and forth on the school bus to Chabad Camp. At camp, my brothers were three-star generals and I was a cadet. These were our ranks in the Tzivos Hashem or “G-d’s Army” (please don’t think for a second that there were any militant over- or undertones to any of this). Our ranks were determined by how many good deeds we had done.

On one memorable outing, my brothers made up a song concerning me, and to this day – 30 years later − anyone on the bus that day can remember the Ilana song, word for word. Let me just say that Ilana and banana rhyme perfectly in any language. I believe that for creating that song alone, they should have been stripped of their stars.

A few years later, my parents took the show on the road again; this time to Hong Kong, where the Chabad emissaries made every Jew who came to town – whether transient or permanent – feel welcome. In this outpost, so far from the communities in which most of us grew up, the welcome was a wonderful surprise. Lubavitch in the Far East (“LIFE”) made Judaism as accessible to the traveler or resident as chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant. Yet again, the tremendous energy that the Chabad emissaries bring to their jobs has never failed to impress me.

The loss of any life is to be mourned; yet, G-d is kind to us. He lets us feel only the closest of deaths with heartbreak, with complete sadness. But a death within the Chabad community, a community that for years has seen their charter as offering Judaism in every corner of the globe, affects us all. Orthodox or secular, traveler or resident, the Chabad representatives who venture out into the world are not missionaries. They are emissaries.

A missionary is a persuader. His job is to convince you that his way is correct, and that what you have been doing until now is incorrect. An emissary is an ambassador whose job is to represent his boss; be it a country, an organization or a religion. With diplomacy, he offers another point of view. Chabad’s job is to teach that Judaism is not only possible wherever you may find yourself − it is desirable.

I can’t comment on global terrorism, or the age-old question of why good people suffer. I don’t know how the Lubavitch community will deal with the tremendous loss their family; their community has suffered in the last week. For my part I’ll bake. It’s the only way I know how to deal with any crisis. Whether stressed or sad, I have one surefire coping mechanism. The more I “potchker” with my food, the more time I spend on a particular recipe, the closer I feel to G-d – as if by creating puff pastry from scratch, I can hold on, even for a millisecond, to some ever-fleeting godliness.

This week, you can be sure that I will be using my Chabad cookbook for inspiration. Perhaps the baking will help me find the strength to cross the chasm of despair into faith. When we lose something, we each find a way to make it better in our own minds.

This coming week, find a way to commune with G-d. Light Shabbat candles, do good deeds, put on tefillin. That is what the people in Chabad recommend. For my part, I will bake.

May we only hear good tidings about our families and brethren around the world. May God comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Cauliflower Kugel – Adapted from Spice and Sprit, The complete kosher Jewish cookbook:

In recent years kugels have gone the way of the Crepes Suzette, and Cornish hens. I would like to make the case for this kugel; it is not only low in fat, it is jam packed with vegetables. The original recipe calls for a corn flake crumb crust I prefer a little Mediterranean touch with the pine nuts, but that is totally your call.

2 small heads cauliflower, cut into florets1 large onion chopped (about 1

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/food//2008/12/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: