Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Poems for a Tu Bishvat Seder

Our friends came over for an impromptu Tu Bishvat Seder last night. They brought the fruit (thanks Barbara and Brian!) And I brought my offering in words (isn't that how we Jews do it?)

I always forget which fruits you eat when, and how much white or red wine to drink, so I dashed off a poem about the Four Worlds of Creation that you can use for next year's seder. Chag same'ach!

Poems for a Tu Bishvat Seder
by Jeff Klepper © 2012

In Asiya where we begin
Our fruit must have protective skin
That you'll remove and toss away
The rest is yours to eat, ok?

Included here are nuts as well
Like almonds, with an outer shell
Or nuts like coco and brazil
Crack them open, eat your fill

The wine (juice) we drink is only white, cool and crisp, like winter's light.

For Yetzirah we now provide
Fruits that have a pit inside
So take a bite, the taste is sweet
The pit, of course, you'd never eat

On plums and peaches, olives too
That nature formed for me and you
On mangos, apricots and dates
We say "borei p'ri ha'eitz"

Add a drop of red and sing, as winter slowly turns to spring.

Beriyah is level three
So pick an apple from the tree
Creation gives us all we need
These fruits have tiny little seeds...

Grapes and berries, when they're tasted
Are complete, so nothing's wasted
Also kiwis, figs and pears,
Pass around the plate and share!

The wine (juice) we drink is white and red, a taste of summer in your head.

The highest level, Atzilut
Is spiritual, we need no fruit
And after drinking wine (juice) that's red
We smell a fragrant spice instead.

So take a walk, enjoy the breeze
Say, "Happy Birthday" to the trees.
Thanking God for all we've got
Is (in a nutshell) Tu Bishvat!

The tree picture at the top is uncredited - if it's yours let me know so I can thank you.
The sunset photo was taken by me from the balcony of the Samuels' home in Ein Hod in 2008.
(You can see the single hardy tree that made it through a forest fire.)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Debbie Friedman: Under the Stars & Over the Rainbow (1991)

On July 13, 1991 Debbie headlined an outdoor concert at camp to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, WI. A limited edition VHS tape of concert highlights is the source of these performances, posted here with the camp’s permission.
As Debbie sang, she was distracted by the buzzing and biting of “dive bomber” mosquitoes, and also by a small plane that flew overhead with a banner bearing a humorous message for camp Director Jerry Kaye. Hundreds of campers, staff, alumni and fans welcomed Debbie as a celebrity and sang her songs enthusiastically, yet at times she seemed ill at ease, even as she launched into bits of silliness. Beginning the chords of “Kumi Lach” she seemed to be overcome with emotion, perhaps having to do with returning to the place where she had written that song, and so many others, some twenty years earlier.
She was, of course, still learning to cope with the physical limitations of her illness and may not have been feeling great that day. But I wonder, as she looked out at the crowd, if she was being moved by the power of that place, and the realization that more than a few of those singing her songs were the children of her contemporaries, a new generation. I hope she knew how much this new generation, raised on her "Aleph Bet Song" loved and looked up to her.
That night Debbie sang as sweetly as I have ever heard her, offering stunning renditions of “Shelter of Peace," and “The Rainbow Blessing,” and making a point to introduce her Bubbe as she began a very spirited "Miriam's Song." She ended with all the musicians who had played during the evening (yours truly among them) joining her to sing a new song, “The Angels’ Blessing."
Kumi Lach

Rainbow Blessing

Miriam's Song

Shelter of Peace (Hashkiveinu)

The Angels' Blessing

Wednesday, February 1, 2012