Hebrew School

The Great Shlep
September 27, 2008, 6:26 pm
Filed under: jews | Tags: , , , ,

Sarah Silverman wants to know why you don’t visit your grandmother more often.


Machinery of Eden

The Sway Machinery play next Monday and Tuesday, September 29 and 30 at Le Poisson Rouge, the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Click here for details.

For those of you who didn’t manage to catch Sway Machinery‘s Rosh Hashanah show last year at Angel Orensanz, you’re about to catch a speck of kismet: It turns out that this life is shorter than we thought, and wouldn’t you know, it’s suddenly that time of year again. Fortunately, Rosh Hashanah occurs at exactly the same time as last yearon the Jewish calendar, of course. You’re in luck.

Maybe you didn’t come last year because the massively gorgeous, history-stained Lower East Side synagogue had reached capacity and you were turned away. Maybe you were travelling to be with family, or were making a pilgrimage to someone else’s idea of apples and honey (symbolic of a sweet new year). Or maybe you “don’t like to go to Jewish things.”

You know what? Neither do I. I’m often nauseated by the decrepitude of the ceremonial, the proprietary conflict lurking in the “cultural event,” the possibility of unspoken exclusivity within something intended otherwise. And if you’re a music fan, like me, you may be daunted by the unholy admixture of sacred and profane– the music, of course, being sacred above all.

The proposition is heady at face value: fuzzed-out guitar riffs, Afrobeat-inspired horns, enraptured cantorial melisma broken only by the sincerity of biblical storytelling (and re-telling)– all occurring when you might otherwise be at your Westchester grandma’s, or decidedly not there. But then you actually hear the music.

It’s a vexingly powerful– yep, swaying– exposition of everything a live music experience really ought to be. It’s profundity, graciously understated and overstated by veteran NYC musician Jeremiah Lockwood (vocals, guitar) and his screamingly gifted co-conspirators (among these: Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase, tenor saxophone player Stuart Bogie and trumpeter Jordan McLean of Antibalas, and the Arcade Fire‘s Colin Stetson). In my opinion, as with all transcendent music, it’s a journey that renders unnecessary baggage (religious, cultural, otherwise) weightless, and vindicates the individual in a sweaty embrace.

Highlights from 5768’s performance. Get your tickets for ’69 now– these are sure to be sold-out shows.

It’s not too late to sign up for Hebrew School!
September 22, 2008, 10:17 pm
Filed under: > Project | Tags: , , , ,

I encourage you to join the Hebrew School mailing list for infrequent updates on upcoming Hebrew School shows. (I promise not to fill your inbox with spam!)  You can sign up by clicking “join” on the upper-left-hand side of this page, or by clicking here.

Because I slipped on Art Garfunkel

Well, the 8-tracks, whatever their putative ethnic value, started to subsume my existence somewhat too abundantly, and now it is back to the LP for me. Dozens were picked up at a stoop sale somewhere near Union St., manhandled into recycled plastic bags between 5th and 6th Avenues in Park Slope. Here are ten of the most interesting.

Devadip Carlos Santana and Mahavishnu John McLaughlin.

I’ve got more, really interesting ones from this batch that I’d like to share with you. So, when Hebrew School has a break from its fury of Web 0.0 activity, I will scan, resize, crop, geekify, etc.

Is Hebrew school necessary?

With a view that the stated purpose of most Hebrew schools is to engage young Jews in religious and cultural life, and the wink-and-a-nod purpose being to prepare students for their bar mitzvahs while preventing dwindling attendance at synagogues, I’ve come to wonder about the necessity of the institution.

Last week, while attempting to embark on an experiment to put myself through the pangs of re-learning my bar mitzvah’s haftarah portion (assuming the suffering would be “good for my art”), the point was driven home more succinctly. Not only can one get their haftarah online, but they can have it transliterated and sung to them.

Sadly, Hebrew school for me was a rather similar rote memorization of letters, vowels and songs with– at maximum– a cursory explanation for what the words mean. Except that it went on for six to seven years, upwards of three times a week, with a lot of extemporaneous truancy. A veritable speed-reading and horseradish eating contest, as I’ve said before. (Fortunately, I did excel at both.)

Sounds like an indie noise-rock record to me… Thanks, Hebrew school of Norman Greenbaum!

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News ‘n’ notes…

Ran into Abena Koomson this summer at a Celebrate Brooklyn concert… She’s been performing with Bill T. Jones’s cast in Fela!, an energetic narrative of the life of Afrobeat’s godfather which includes music from Bushwick’s Antibalas. The show only runs for two more weeks so get tickets now!


The Shondes have embarked on an extensive U.S. tour, winding up this fall in New York with shows at the Knitting Factory and my other Hebrew school.


Hebrew School (this site) received kind mention on WYSIWYG, part of BlogDay 2008‘s festivities.


Oh no! will someone please turn off my stove?