Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood - Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Me.
Wednesday, 11 May 2011 19:52

Do those two names ring a bell? How about Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Naomi Shemer-Sapir? All but the last one? Naomi Shemer-Sapir was an Israeli musician whose parents helped found a kibbutz on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. She was known as the "first lady of Israeli song and poetry." The song sung at the Tribute to Four Centuries of Jewish Composers presented at my synagogue in Santa Fe on March 8th, makes my heart sing. The applause sounds like a concert hall, resonating throughout the sanctuary.

The concert starts with the Jewish National Anthem, "Hatikva" (The Hope). We all stand, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. The chorus is made up of members of three vocal groups from Santa Fe.

When the violinist strikes the first few chords of Oyfn Pripitchuk, my Bubbie's voice floats in air.  I never knew what the song meant until I read the program. "When, children, you will grow older, You will understand, How many tears lie in these letters (the Hebrew alphabet), and how much crying". I stop to consider, maybe all these years I have been crying for more than just a grandmother singing a lullaby to her grandchild.

On this day of remembrance, Mother's Day, I honor my grandmother who bore the name of Heifitz. She is the one who brought music into my life at a time when my mother died. Her voice and her songs held me.

During the intermission I go out toward the Meditation Garden where the bricks are engraved with the names of my grandparents, my mothers and my father.

The final two songs in the concert remind me the road all of us concert attendees travel, and how far we may have come. The songs? Blowin’ In The Wind, and Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Then I spot the two Santa Fe Police Officers outside the synagogue doors.

"Why are you here," I ask them.  "We like music," one says. "It was an easy assignment," the other one answers.

I then wanted to know, "What possible threat can the celebration of music be?"

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