Friday, December 11, 2009

This week at the Chazzan's Shabbes (and Chanukah) Tish


Susan McKibben (Long time friend of D'ror)

The Chazzan and his husband.


Challah and Chummus (goes without saying...)

Roasted Herbed Chicken (parsley, mint and basil this time)
(you know, when you put all the goodness under the skin and make the whole thing taste amazing)

Roasted vegetables - carrots, golden beets, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, broccoli... and other deliciousness

Sufganiyot (Jelly Donuts) and some delicacies from Delice (a kosh French bistro down the street)

Tonight is all about the 1 pot Shabbos. Everything we are making is literally in one roasting pan. First we partially roasted the veggies (some of them like to be cooked for a long time) and then we put the chicken right on top of them and cooked it. So few dishes and so delicious!

Chag Urim Sameach!
Hot a Gitn Khanike!
Gut Shabbes!
A blessed and holy Sabbath of peace and love to you and yours.

The Chazzan

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Chazzan's new song

Health care seems to be all anyone can talk about these days. Between the coming winter colds, the H1N1 and the unbearably frustrating United States Senate - we could all use a little r'fuah sh'leimah.

So - healing was on my mind.

In the Jewish world (especially in the Reform Movement) there are lots and lots of community prayers for healing. Take your pick of popular synagogue composers, they have all written songs for us to express our hopes and prayers for others.

Interestingly - in the world of Sephardic piyyut (liturgical poetry), it seems like the trend is more often on prayers in the first person.

Two that come to mind right away are R'fa Tziri and Elohei Oz. Both of them have beautiful texts and deeply moving melodies.

There is one more text for which I have been hoping to find a melody - Eili R'fa'eini V'eirafei

This text is by none other than Rabbi Yehudah Halevy (c. 1075-1141), my favorite of the great Sephardic poets.
For more info on Yehudah Halevy - check his wikipedia article.

Eili R'fa'eini V'eirafei

בשתותו סם רפואה
"He said this when he drank his medicine"

אֵלִי רְפָאֵנִי וְאֵרָפֵא אַל יֶחֱרֶה אַפָּךְ וְאֶסָּפֶה
סַמִּי וּמֶרְקָחִי לְךָ בֵּין טוֹב בֵּין רָע וּבֵין חָזָק וּבֵין רָפֶה
אַתָּה אֲשֶׁר תִּבְחַר וְלֹא אֲנִי עַל דַּעְתְּךָ הָרָע וְהַיָּפֶה
לֹא עַל רְפוּאָתִי אֲנִי נִסְמָךְ רַק אֶל רְפוּאָתְךָ אֲנִי צוֹפֶה

My God, heal me and I will be healed.
Don't let the fire of Your anger consume me.
My drugs and medications are Yours - whether good
or bad. Whether strong or weak.
You are the one who chooses, not I.
You know what is good, and what is beautiful.
I do not rely on my own medicine;
I hope only for Your healing power.

Franz Rosenzweig commented that, as a physician, Halevy knew intimately the powers of human medicine. He knew that sometimes when a person is sick a simple remedy can bring a complete healing - and he had no superstition about "those doctors and their crazy ideas. He chose to believe, as a doctor, that the true source of healing is God.

Somehow today this melody came to me for this poem.

Download David Berger - Eili R'fa'eini V'eirafei

Happy Chanukah!
The Chazzan

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tonight at the Chazzan's Shabbes Tish


Samara Bay (cousin of D'ror) and her boyfriend Patrick

Achiya Shatz (labor zionist shaliach) and his roommate

The Chazzan and his husband.


Challah and Chummus (of course)

Chicken Piccata (with one vegetarian variation - veggie chicken strips piccata)

Angel Hair Pasta

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower with homemade marinara sauce (I was inspired by watching Chef Academy on Bravo)

Homemade Pear Pie (made by D'ror) with a crumble on top served with pareve vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Welcome to the Tish

Have a seat, drink some schnapps, eat way too much food, sing too loudly - you are at the Chazzan's Tish.
It would be rude to walk out the door without having a piece of kugel and some brisket.

The Chazzan (that's me) is going to hold a Tish now and then - to tell you some stuff that is important and some stuff that is completely trivial. He is new to this, so let's all behave better than we did in Sunday School.

At the tish will be some CD reviews, some pictures of food, some musicological ruminations, some talk about the world around us, and when I'm feeling inspired - some music from the chazzan himself.

So let's jump right in....

Yesterday's New York Senate vote against same sex marriage leaves me disgusted, annoyed and hurt - but I have to keep on believing that every day we are one day closer to full equality. I was thinking about one of my favorite Chanukah songs yesterday - I even made the religious school kids learn it - באנו חושך לגרש Banu Choshech L'gareish.

The song, with words by Sarah Levy-Tanai (1911-2005) and music by Emanuel Amiran (Pugatchov) (1909-1993) is a sort of military march for Chanukah.
Here's the words:
בָּאנוּ חֹשֶךְ לְגָרֵשׁ.
בְּיָדֵינוּ אוֹר וָאֵשׁ.
כָּל אֶחָד הוּא אוֹר קָטָן,
וְכֻלָּנוּ - אוֹר אֵיתָן.
סוּרָה חֹשֶךֱ! הָלְאָה שְׁחוֹר!
סוּרָה מִפְּנֵי הָאוֹר!
We have come to expel the darkness.
In our hands are light and fire.
Each one of us is a small light.
All together - a mighty illumination.
Get back darkness! Move away black!
Turn back before the light!

Here's my favorite recording from the 70s:

Check out this video for some inspiring toddler dance moves:

For one more recording of this - here are two members of the contempo-chassidic group "Groyse Metzie" grooving out to Banu Choshech for a special on Arutz Sheva about Chanukah songs. Skip to 2:05 into the video to get right to the good part.

So - just because I can't contain myself.... a few words about Sarah Levy-Tanai and Emanuel Amiran (Pugatchov)

Sarah Levy-Tanai (1911-2005), one of the most important artists in the history of dance in Israel, was born in Jerusalem to Yemenite parents who immigrated to Israel at the end of the 19th century. Orphaned at a young age, she was raised in orphanages and trained to be a kindergarten teacher. While working as a teacher she began to compose, writing simple songs for children, many of which were published as an educational guide. After several attempts at an acting career, Levy-Tanai began her first steps into dance as a writer and director of local ceremonies at Kibutsim around Israel. She both composed original melodies for these and choreographed dances performances, eventually creating full length dramatic works like “The Book of Ruth” (1947) and “In the Beginning” (1950). In 1949, Levy-Tanai began to work with a group of young Yemenite dancers, forming the roots of what would become the famous Inbal dance company, for which Levy-Tanai was artistic director for 40 years. Inbal went for its first world tour, as an official representative of the State of Israel, from 1957-1959, and remains the dominant force in the Israeli dance scene. In 1973, Levy-Tanai was awarded the Israel Prize, the highest honor the government of Israel bestows upon its citizens.

Emanuel Amiran (Pugatchov) (1909-1993) was born in Warsaw to family of Zionist educators. The family moved to Moscow where he began his piano and composition studies, and then made aliyah in 1924. After working a number of jobs, Amiran devoted himself to the study of music education and in 1945 he founded the official Music Teachers' Seminary in Tel Aviv. He continued his dedication to musical education, managing the musical programs of the IDF and leading the Ministry of Culture and Education's music program. He composed hundreds of songs for the theater, concert stage, and popular music scene. A great lover of folk music, many of his own compositions have turned into folk songs themselves (El Hama'ayan, Mayim Mayim, B'tzeit Yisrael and more).

I LOVE the message of this song. Our job (on Chanukah and, in fact, all the time) is to dispel the darkness from the world and spread light. Each individual person has our own light to shine - but no one of us has enough to do it alone.

So - this Chanukah - how about we all recommit to bringing our individual lights together and join them with as many people as we can find to make a great illumination. We need it in the New York Senate, we need it in Maine, we need it in California, we need it in Iraq, we need it in Darfur, we need it pretty much everywhere.

Let's come together and banish the darkness.