Hebrew School

Thanks and onward
December 31, 2007, 5:01 pm
Filed under: blog | Tags: , ,

Just wanted to thank everyone who checked out my blog in 2007. The common era year went out with a bang– the blog got a record 550+ hits in the month of December alone.

And now, a toast:


So this was Christmas

While it is a de facto tradition for many American Jews to spend Christmas eating Chinese food and going to the movies, my family, for the last twenty years, has had its own tradition.  So I went to Boston.

above: The train from New York to Boston winds its way through Queens and the Bronx as it heads north.

Almost every Christmas since I was eleven, I have gone with my family to St. Paul’s Church in my hometown of Malden, Massachusetts, to work at a feeding program for economically disadvantaged and homeless people. The program is called Project Ezra, and in Malden it’s a partnership between the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts and Bread of Life (the latter of which operates the feeding program at St. Paul’s year-round). It’s a day for Jews from local synagogues to pitch in at a time when church-going volunteers might want to be home with their family.

Exterior of St. Paul’s. It was a “white Christmas” in Boston…

Hundreds of people are served here at Christmas; hundreds of to-go meals are delivered earlier in the day to the homebound and elderly.

Towards the end of our time there, I gravitated toward the piano and had a chance to entertain some of the kids with some Christmas carols and other songs. They, in turn, entertained me with some music stylings of their own.

I was happy to meet our congregation‘s new rabbi, David Kudan and his family at St. Paul’s that day. Formerly at the Harvard Hillel and a graduate of Hampshire College, Rabbi Kudan seems like a really forward-thinking and personable guy. I’m really glad he’s at our temple and I look forward to getting to know him more.

Later that night we all had dinner, and the following morning it was back to Brooklyn for me.

That’s my mom, Harriet. Knaidlach on Christmas?? Why not!

* * *

Bread of Life offers warmth in a cold season

It’s Christmas
December 25, 2007, 5:25 pm
Filed under: youtube

Cleaning out my myspace

Every now and then I muster the strength to go through the human- and cyborg-generated friend requests that have accumulated on my myspace page.  It takes way too much time but, however few, the music delights I discover are often worth the tribulations.  Last weekend’s cleaning:

blowin kisses

Broken Electric Records

Urban Barnyard

Marnie Stern

Pussy *

Jewish Legend

niagara falls

Big pagan feast day coming up… everyone enjoy! (I know I will…)

* Actually pointed out to me by friend Taylor Bergren-Chrisman. Check out their friends– endless bands of this ilk… Amazing.

Third Avenue Comes 2nd

photo from savethedeli.com


How psyched are we, brother and sister, gentile and Jew, that the 2nd Avenue Deli reclaimed its existence in Murray Hill this past Monday? The blogosphere certainly is:

eater.com – “The people do love their pastrami.”

gawker.com – “And this, the best food-related sentence we’ve read in a while: ‘There are two things that I love but my mother always told me not to eat. I love kishke, you know, derma. And I love gribenes.'” [Quoting owner Jeremy Lebewohl]

kosherblog.net – “To avoid the apparently inevitable ‘my hashgacha [i.e., divine providence] can beat up your hashgacha’ conversation, I remind you that Kosher Blog recommends that you check with your local rabbi regarding any questions about appropriate kashrut.”

News of the reopening came to me via fellow muncher Steve Silberman who forwarded me a post on the Well by his friend Gary Lambert:

“Perfect, perfect and perfect. The Dr. Brown’s seemed like an especially
good vintage… a ’98, perhaps? The matzo balls their old
supernaturally fluffy selves, the broth just right, with that little
hint of dill. And the pastrami, with that great peppery outer rim, was
better than any I’d had at the old location in its final years — an
encouraging sign that Jeremy Lebewohl intends to make good on his pledge
to not simply reopen the deli, but to reverse any slippage that occurred
after Uncle Abe’s death and restore the family business to its glorious

Jeremy Lebewohl: Birth of a Deli Man

The Weekend, Pixelated

View from my back window on Friday night, Sunset Park, Brooklyn

I lost my camera during Chanukah, so this past weekend was spent in an odd realm of cell phone rectangles.

Friday night, I started out the evening by going to a gallery opening at Flux Factory in Long Island City, Queens where fellow Six Points fellow Andrea Dezsö was showing her work. The show was called New York New York New York and featured a raised map of the city along the entire floor of the gallery. Participating artists created pieces corresponding to the geographical area in which their work was placed. Andrea’s piece depicted Lilith and her son performing at the Lilith Cabaret in Coney Island.

There’s such an astonishing level of intricacy and detail in Andrea’s work, physically and conceptually, that it leaves one feeling delightfully dizzy. I understand that these are a series of animation studies for her fellowship piece, entitled The Demon Bridegroom. (More here.) Sadly, it sounds like Flux’s future is up in the air– I hear their lease is coming to an end. This makes me acutely aware of the passage of time as I had a sound installation in a show there in 2003.

Left: also on display, toy taxis running along a treadmill. Right: view from the back roof of Flux Factory. Queens is a trip…

Later that night, I proceeded to Greenpoint, Brooklyn (not a far distance from Long Island City, but a disproportionately long subway ride) where I got to see Harvest, Abacus, the Curhakestra, and finally Hells Hills.

Top: Abacus. Bottom: The Curhakestra.

Saturday found me up at dawn where I proceeded to morning Sabbath services at… Just kidding. Saturday I broke the Sabbath with White Magic at the newish Music Hall of Williamsburg with old and dear friend Erin Dowding (who once made good on a pledge to read 100 books in a year). The show was excellent (and the Music Hall is a great-sounding venue, if you have not been there yet), but I kept referring to them as the Blake Babies.

Clockwise from top: Juliana Hatfield (Mira Billotte), Evan Dando, and John Strohm.

“L’Shanah HaBa’ah Hi-Res”

Chanukah In Retrograde
December 13, 2007, 5:20 pm
Filed under: jewish, wfmu record fair | Tags: , , ,

Chanukah Song Parade (Menorah Records)

Well, the plan was to find a cool Chanukah record to blog about, but here I am, days after the end of Chanukah, with a lot of Chanukah records that aren’t good enough to be shitty or shitty enough to be good.

Also found at the WFMU record fair, this LP (available in its totality here, in Florida Atlantic University’s Judaica sound archives, though you might not want to do that) takes us through all the candle-lighting prayers and “traditional” ’50s American Ashkenazi Jewish Chanukah songs. A boon for those of that generation who felt guilty of their religious errancy; just play this record and let Chanukah be celebrated for you and your kids. Why all the fuss?

Anyhow, this record’s “Ma’oz Tzur” does sound pretty good backwards, allowing us to zoom up to Chanukah as we zoom away from it at 29 frames per second in the accompanying video:

Candles dying out on the final night of Chanukah…