I have to admit I was nervous about coming before 140 people for the Sunday Concert yesterday. What could I do that was new since I have been singing at Maimonides now for over 15 years? All I could think of was to sit down and as Tevye from Fiddler always did, I looked up and asked God to help me. I knew that this week we will have Holocaust Remembrance Day and next week is coming Yom Atzmaut, the Israel Day Rally. I took out my music and little by little an idea began to formulate in my mind. As we get older we become more interested in where we came from than when we were young. Perhaps that is why our Creator tells us to repeat His principles and stories from generation to generation. Eventually we are going to get it. I thought about the Holocaust and what I read from one or two rabbis and from the teachings of my own rabbi.
Several years ago my rabbi traveled back from a conference in California and brought me a CD and a book of music by Debbie Friedman. I listened to it and was not really moved by it. I put the CD in a drawer with the rest of my older CD’s and forgot about it. A couple of years later I was looking for some new music to increase my repertoire and came across Debbie’s CD. I had completely forgotten about it. I played it while I was doing some housework and it grabbed me. I left what I was doing and started to type out the words of four of the songs that really impressed me.
I have always loved how life happens. Sometimes things come our way and we step in and sometimes we choose to walk away. On this particular day, I chose to step in. One day, a friend from Toronto and Israel told me that his mother was being admitted into Maimonides. I could see his concern because he wouldn’t be here to see her much. Thank God for his sister. I asked him if he would like me to go and visit her from time to time.
One of my very best friends, Miriam, has written a book – a tale of love, grief and joy – and I am so very proud of her! Many of us have ideas and dreams about things that we would like to do, but very few of us really take the first step to accomplish it. Her book, “Clover’s Ark”, is the story of a quest, a pilgrimage in the spirit of “Narnia”, and is absolutely delightful! Clover Rabbit receives a call from The Ancient of Days to embark upon a journey without knowing his destination, a little like Abram in Torah. After consulting with Sam Rabbit, off he goes with his best friend, Tom Squirrel.
A musical animator doesn’t only sing and play an instrument. To animate means “to bring to life” and one cannot bring others to see life as hopeful and interesting unless they themselves see life that way and this needs to come from deep within. My journey toward doing exactly what I’m doing today has been a long and difficult one but also a very exciting one.
I believe that we cannot experience the intense joy that life has to offer unless we have also experienced the deep darkness of despair and made it through. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!
What I find particularly exciting is that there is no age limit to finding one’s purpose in life and when we do, no matter how large or small, we are fulfilled. Some are late bloomers and find it only in their latter years. The problem is that many people lose hope; they not only give up on themselves but also on life. Life is a gift to be opened each and every day. Our lives touch others and each one of us is important in the grand scheme of things.