Hebrew School

Who’s your Jew? Hebrew School quiz!

“Who’s your Jew” is the first in a series of posts where Hebrew School attempts to digest, swallow and/or spit out his experiences around this project’s creation and, by extension, mainstream Jewish organizational culture in the United States.

Quiz: What do you make of “identity politics?”

a) say what now?

b) to them we owe a lot! can you say, “President?”

c) makes me “think of my art and how it informs my culture.” i mean, the other way around

d) it is something from the ’60s and has to do with hippies

e) it’s the name of a spoken-word jazz sextet formed by Amiri Baraka, Leroi Jones, and Bella Abzug

f) i’m just in it for the gravlax / free falafel-based snacks / open bars

g) it’s a convenient decoy for mimicking procreation/davening, à la Grateful Dead concerts

h) it’s a cynical money-making/social-ladder-climbing gimmick within cultures

i) like health care reform it is a “socialist conspiracy

j) it’s about being a “good jew

k) it was eschewed 40 years ago by white male post-modernists

l) it’s an assurance that only folks outside of your culture/ethnicity will like your art

m) it’s a strategy to get rich Jews/gentiles/LGBTs to fund your mass-circumcision performance art piece in a public “greenspace.”

n) its current application has something to do with “networking” and “web 2.0”

o) it’s all about “yielding power” from voter demographics

p) it’s about “communing with your tribe


r) it has to do with jewish guilt/your mom

s) it is a venture capital firm invested in by Bernie Madoff

t) kidney harvesting

u) it’ll lay the groundwork for a discussion with your child about Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day falling on Rosh Hashanah.

v) it is a “voice for the voiceless” / it is “cultural hegemony”

w) it is why you can make a living by playing clarinet in rich Jewish peoples’ weddings

x) charedi pheromones

y) it obscures the only viable path to meaning which is G-d

z) OTHER (answer below)


“So Hebrew School, what’s next?”
August 4, 2009, 8:09 am
Filed under: > Project | Tags: , , , , , ,

You will hear silence… followed by a tone.

Before I dive in, I just want to thank everyone who’s been supporting me on this project for the past couple of years, including my bandmates, the throngs of you who made it to our shows, the tens of millions of you who bought my cd or got the tracks on iTunes, folks keeping up with these bloggings, folks who’ve been extolling the band’s virtues in print, web, and radio, the twitterati, and everyone who’s whispered an encouraging sweet nothing into my slightly challenged left ear. Couldn’t have done this– couldn’t be doing this– without you.

The Six Points Fellowship has been a game-changer in terms of my career as a musician. For the past decade, I’ve gotten a chance to be involved in other performers’ projects, much to my happiness and unimaginable success. From moonlighting with what has to be the coolest and joyfully irreverent Jewish band to ears and feet, to an extended dalliance into the college radio charts with another, I’ve never really looked the other way, much less had a chance to. All the while, though, I had secretly been scurrying away my own creations– with no false modesty, way too many of them. It was at this point that the Fellowship swooped in, encouraging and challenging me to take my music from the nether-reaches of my hard drive to the stage. For all this, a serious helping of gratitude is in order– who knows how long my music’s beard would have otherwise grown until it saw the light of day?

Hebrew School has represented a beginning for me to get more of this stuff out into the world, and there’s definitely more Hebrew School to come: Keep your browsers tuned here. At the same time, there are several other separate music projects I’ve been working on, to be unveiled in these pages in due course. What’s more, I’ve been developing some exciting new stuff for the web, focusing on music and jew-ish culture, soon to be linked to the light of day.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be putting together some reflections on some of what I’ve learned in this particular project’s peculiar trenches. For now, I’ll leave you with this:


Fishback: Who’s coming?
April 16, 2009, 8:53 am
Filed under: shows | Tags: , , , ,

Friend, colleague and Six Points Fellow Dan Fishback’s You Will Experience Silence runs for just four more nights: tomorrow (4/17), Saturday (4/18), and next Tuesday and Wednesday (4/21-4/22) at Dixon Place.

Down for a tale of gay Maccabees, interwoven with the anti-adventures of a modern-day crazed activist? Absurdist meditations on citizenship, imperialism and sexual ethics? Get tickets now.

Clare Burson debuts Silver and Ash @ Joe’s Pub, Thursday, Feb. 26

Are yall excited for Clare’s show on Thursday?

This will be a multimedia treat: A song cycle interwoven with story monologues unearthing the past. Audience members will receive an arty songbook which chronicles the music along with a 3-song sampler of the upcoming Tucker Martine-produced CD. Clare sings songs so sincere and heartfelt that you will immediately, even if you don’t know her at all, want to be her Best Friend Forever.

This show will also be awesome because it will be a “full band” show. I’ve only seen Six Points fellow Clare on stage by herself, so I’m excited about this, especially from what I hear in the warm yet fuzzed-out textures of her ensemble recordings. The band features Adam Levy on guitar (Norah Jones, Jenny Scheinman, Tracy Chapman), Tony Leone on drums (Ollabelle, Levon Helm, Rickie Lee Jones), and Andy Cotton on bass.

Click here for show details.

Click here to buy tickets. SOLD OUT

Seven Generations

Avishai Mekonen’s Seven Generations opens at the Tisch Gallery this Thursday, February 12.

We’re not talking about the biodegradable dish soap you get at the food coop, people. This is the work of Avishai Mekonen, who’ll be giving a talk at the upper west side JCC’s Tisch Gallery this Thursday starting at 6pm, followed by the official opening. Avishai, a Six Points compatriot, has painstakingly documented, in photo and video, the complexities of Ethiopian Jewry. Tradition and modernity collide. Generations are counted backward as life is counted forward. Plain and simple: No one else is doing this.

Who’s coming? I’ll see you Thursday.

The skinny…

Seven Generations:
Photos and Video by Avishai Mekonen

The Laurie M. Tisch Gallery
The JCC in Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Ave. at 76th St.
New York, NY

On View Feb 12 – Apr 30, 2009

Opening Events: Thu, Feb 12
6-7 pm: Meet the Artist Talk
7-8 pm: Gallery Reception

Images from the Six Points Fellows Retreat, Fall ’08
November 6, 2008, 7:56 am
Filed under: adventures | Tags: , , ,

* * * *

Last January’s retreat.

Jews in the woods
January 23, 2008, 1:30 am
Filed under: > Project, jews | Tags: , , ,

This past weekend, the Jews kidnapped the fellowship artists and brought us to a secluded location in rural New Jersey. Fortunately our quarters were comfortable and no Geneva Conventions violations were reported during our stay (at least no non-consensual ones, anyway).

above: The paddywagon

During our extradition, a wet snow begins to fall. The bus, too large to navigate the back roads, gets stuck on some train tracks on an icy hill and we all evacuate. A while (but not long enough!) after the bus moves to safer grounds, a train comes barreling through.

Indoctrination begins in the meditation room. We receive artist feedback here by staring into the electric crystal.

On the second evening at sundown, a bizarre candle-lighting ritual ensues as we are relieved of our duties. (Note the gangly state of the male detainees.)

Avishai snuck in some delicious Ethiopian challah bread made of teff and flour. A carton of cigarettes procures us enough wine for kiddush.

A rumored hunger strike never materializes.

We bundle up for a very moving movie, presented by Tamar Rogoff. Our spirit has been softened.

In the morning, I bribe some of my cohort to do yoga for me, and for the rest of the day I feel much more relaxed.

“Achota” Rebecca Guber leads us on a hike. (Those who have recently given birth to adorable Jewish babies are allowed to walk ahead.)

As our shadows grow long, our map leads us through an open field of rifle-bearing meat enthusiasts with little Jewish sense of humor, so we turn back.

C.C. for havdalah will be just fine, actually, thanks.

Everyone’s favorite female sage

The grounds of Mount Eden have many charming details.

Cookie monster, somewhat faded