Sunday, November 23, 2008

You turned my mourning into dancing, caused me to loose my sackcloth and gird me with joy

I"ll call Baila has put out a yummy 35th edition of the KCC and there is a big new Haveil Havalim over at Ima on (and off) the bimah. My good friend Batya at Shiloh Musings asked us all "where were you when?" and I hope to answer that in a moment.

But first, where was I last night? Thanks for asking, David and I went to Jerusalem for the Shlomo Carlebach Yahrtzeit Concert. You might subtitle it a sixties mimouna. Graying flower children gathered to honor the memory of 'The Dancing Rabbi' so much an icon (pardon the expression, those of you who know what that means outside the cyberworld) of my generation. I first saw and heard him in the lunchroom at YCQ when I was in the 6th grade. He sang accompanied by his guitar all the while 'jumping up and down'. His mother, doubling as his agent, sold his record at the back of the room. Need I say that we were enthralled with the idea that Jewish music could be so entertaining and that a Rabbi could play the guitar and jump up and down. His music is so much a part of our experience. What would SSSJ rallies have been like without 'Od Avinu Chai'?

And so last night on the way home to Rehovot after being transported back to the 60's I noticed on my cell phone (where else does one notice the date nowadays?) that it was going on November 23rd and since I was already in the 60's I couldn't help but think of that infamous day. Like Batya, I was in school, but at Jamaica High School. The bell rang (in those days bells actually rang) I walked out of a class and saw a group of kids walking with Mrs. Lipitz the art teacher. They were coming towards me nodding in a sort of disbelief. One of them said, "President Kennedy has been shot!" The rest is sort of a blur but we ended up in our homerooms being sent home early. There was stillness in the streets and on the bus as if someone turned off the sound.

Later that evening after we made kiddush and ate Shabbat dinner my mother and father felt the need to go to shul and we went to the Conservative synagogue which was closest to our home (also I guess because it was way after the Orthodox services were over). They had to open up an extra extension because people from all over the neighborhood came. Many many were not even Jews. Everyone seemed to need to make a connection with God and Friday night the place to be was the synagogue. This was the only time in my life we sat together as a family in shul. (Does anyone remember the slogan ‘A family that prays together stays together’???) At the end of the service when it came time for kaddish the rabbi got up and explained that we would all stand for the recital of the Jewish prayer for mourners. Everyone, even my father, cried.

My title here is from Tehillim 30 (Psalms) and seemed appropriate at this convergence of anniversaries. May all their neshamot have an aliya.*

*May their souls rest closer to God


Batya said...

Risa, you remember so much more about it. I don't think that my parents said anything or did anything. Thanks for sharing.

Wink, didn't you have school?

Leora said...

I saw Shlomo once on Simchat Torah in New York City a long time ago.

I like your post title a lot.

Batya said...

You are tagged. Please forgive me. It's not all that bad.

Leora said...

I'm following Batya around. I also tagged you. The good news is, you only have to do this once, not respond to both taggings.

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