Monday, November 29, 2010

A taste of childhood

Very rarely, a smell, taste or sight can bring back a stong memory of  childhood. A video posted on youtube 2 days ago did just that...

The video shows the KAJ (Breuer's) Choir singing ובנחה יאמר  by Japhet. Hearing this melody brought back such a strong memory of  time spent in our little yekke shul as a kid that the NF literally could taste the Kedem Malaga kiddush wine and Schnecken cookies served at the Shabbat Mevarchim kiddush following musaf. 

While the NF acknowledges that his little yekke shul was far from perfect, I have many happy memories from going to shul as a kid. I must wonder what associations are being created in my the 4 little NFs' heads going to a "vanilla" Israeli shul and hearing timless classics such as Avini Avini.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A positive experience

So the NF's mother in law was in town for a couple of weeks and as such , she requested that we go away for shabbat. Without giving away too much information, let's just say that the greater NF family headed to the North of the country to a hotel that caters to the religious population.  Knowing my own personal experiences in the past as well as after hearing about Dr. D, physician's largely negative experience at hotels, the NF did not have high hopes for Shabbat....

Upon entering the lobby a couple of hours before Shabbat, we were greeted with 4 just-out-of the army guys singing unbelievable a capella. And then I knew everything was going to be all right.

Upon arriving in the hotel shul a few minutes before shabbat, I was happy to discover that the aforementioned 4 guys were actually a choir (מפתח סול) brought by the hotel management to accompany the hotel chazzan.

A few years ago, an anglo tourist asked me what my favorite place Israel was. Among my top 5: The arrival hall at Ben Gurion airport. Huh? I'm sure you are asking. Yes. The arrival hall at Ben Gurion. The NF loves the happy buzz of families meeting returning children who have only recently been released from Japanese/Thai prisons after being caught traficking drugs. The NF loves the family of olim who made aliya 30 years ago and still dresses that way, awaiting savta to come off the plane. I love the charedi guys who have just travelled for 12 hours, walk out of the baggage claim area with a shtreimel box and a duty free bag with 30 boxes of ciggarettes and 3 bottles of scotch trailed by their wives pushing a cart with 19 pieces of luggage and holding 13 children.   I love seeing the tel avivi/chiloni kibbutznik pick up his girlfriend and start playing tonsel hockey the moment they meet. (Get a room!) Friends/family from all walks of life are greeting their loved ones and in the excitement of the moment everyone forgets how much they can't stand one another. Sure the fights will start when everybody gets home. But for the time being, it's all dvash (honey).

The NF loves seeing the Tel Avivi, the moshavnik, the kibuttznuik, the charedi, the dati leumi all happy and sharing a common ground.

That's exactly what the NF felt as a chazzan accompanied by this marvelous choir started a very nice carlebach kabbalat Shabbat. The NF felt this way because there were Jews from all walks of life in the shul. Dati Leumi, Chabadnikim, Chasidim in bekkeshes and shtreimels, Lithuanians in frocks and hats, sephardim, a  few masoratim and even some chilonim wearing nothing but loin clothes (I'm kidding  for those of you with no sense of humour) sharing the moment and participating by singing along.  In truth,  the chazzan himself was not my cup of tea, but he was more of a baal tephilla/wedding singer than a "cantor" and his nusach was very good. What made kabbalat shabbat one of the nicest I ever heard was that choir.

Dinner was delicious, the kids behaved and we all went to sleep by a reasonable hour....

The Chazzan led mussaf the next morning again accompanied by the choir...of course the NF knew what was coming after the haftara --- Avinu Avinu and it sounded something like this (the guys were once in the Army rabbinical choir). The NF can now admit it. I actually like Avinu Avinu when it is sung by a group of guys that give it some kavod. (Unlike the yodeller, Shloime Baruch and Mendy). then it was time for Mishaberech for chayalei Tzahal .While the chazzan read the tephilla the choir hummed על כל אלה . Cheesy but very pretty.

Things did start breaking down during musaf and a few gongs were given out. The choir harmonized Keter beautifully to the melody of.....................

Somewhere over the rainbow. Gong!

and for mimkomo, they hamorized even more beautifully to the melody of.................

O sole mio. Gong!

But the NF so enjoyed hearing the choir that all was forgiven....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A breakthrough

The Yodeller davened musaf this past week. Thankfully, he didn't sing Avinu Avinu but then in kedusha he decided to yodel....As usual it was slightly off-key, full of repeated words and uninspiring. When the NF went to wash his hands before birkat kohanim he saw that "David Wallaby", a self-described hazzanut mumcheh was davening at our shul. So the NF asked if he recognized the yodeller's yodel. Apparently, the yodeller is trying to imitate an uber-famous hazzanut work composed by Leible Glanz. There are just a few problems with the yodeller's rendition:

1. Unlike Leibele, the Yodeler does not have a chazzan's voice
2. Unlike Leibele, the Yodeller is singing unaccompanied by a choir
3. Unless you really like chazzanut and Leibele Glanz's compositions and the chazzan singing has a really really nice voice, the said melody will give you a headache.

Here is a clip of Chazzan Netanel Baram singing the composition (not badly I must add -- I just don't like chazzanut). (When the NF played the you tube clip for Mrs. NF this morning, she covering her ears and started yelling "make it stop", she then started twitching and speaking in tongues.)

In summary, we have discovered what is behind the yodel and the yodeller is clearly guilty of cantorial self-gratification.