Debbie Friedman Made Me A Better Jew

debbiefriedmanLook, it’s no secret that I don’t know my Midrash from a matzoh ball. I know we’re People of the Book and all, and while I love a good Pentateuch drama, I find it hard to get that touchy-feely-faithful feeling from words alone. But put it to a good tune – a bit of soul, so to speak – and I’m gonna daven like the Messiah’s on his way in a Rolls Royce limo and bringing beer.

But so much of the music us Ashekenazim (and what, pray tell, is the linguistic f*ck-up that caused that word to contain such a distasteful four letter word?) have inherited from the Old Country is just … so … sad ; those mournful minor keys of the traditional liturgy can really suck the joy out of synagogue worship, ya feel me? I’ve already atoned for how much I love gospel music and I have a good reason: It’s got a good beat and I can pray to it. Thank God the Jewish people have Joshua Nelson now (who is not to be confused with this Josh Nelson, who is so adorable with his guitar and will also be playing at Hallelu.)

This is why Debbie Friedman rocks. The woman brought the groove back into American Jewish music more than 35 years ago; many of the tunes Reform Jews know in their bones as “tradition” are actually her compositions. Every summer at camp, I’d belt out “Not By Might, Not By Power” until my throat scratched, and I’d never even heard of the Moshiach until I learned the harmonies of “Ani Ma’Amin.” I still get all teary every time I sing Mi Sheberach. And I get to meet her this weekend. Gheeeeifff (sound of the dissolution into complete dorkiness.) Wonder if she’ll let me hang out the limo and drink a brewskie?

In other Hallelu news, I got a call from the stage director this week, who attempted to, um, direct me all the way from L.A. However, when it is 4:30pm on the West Coast and the day is closing nicely towards a leisurely drive down Mulholland and a quiet dinner at Nobu or whatever it is people in L.A. do after work, it is 7:30pm at the Yenta Household, otherwise known as The Evil Hour of Discontent and A Lot of Yelling. I was trying to grasp the concept that not only am I going to be opening this show with 4000 people in the audience but that there is no script to follow while Yenta Girl climbed on my head and El Yenta Boy pestered me for a guinea pig with the peculiar tenacity of an almost eight year-old who has sneaked a few too many sips of his father’s Coca-Cola when I realized there was something stinky next to my chair. So I had to interrupt this very professional phone meeting to clean up a pile of dog poo almost as large as the animal it came from as well as expose this poor guy in California to the fact that my children know how to use the “s-word” in its literal context. Am I the best Jewish mother ever, or what?

He wasn’t kidding about the no script thing either. Either these people are completely crazy or it’s all going to work out great. I guess I’ll be okay as long as I don’t poop on the floor.

7 thoughts on “Debbie Friedman Made Me A Better Jew

  1. Yent: You are the best Jewish mother ever, and please don’t ‘poop-out’. Oh yeah, the linguistic f*ck up was transliterating ‘Ashekenazim’ from Yiddish/Hebrew letters into Latin letters – you knew that. See what happens when we do as the Romans do.

  2. Oooooo we know all about the Evil Hour at our house … & our five year old who had been lobbying for a dog now thinks he needs a car!

  3. Yo — Mazel Tov!!! This just in … the Savannah Jewish Federation is “bragging on you” now, as we say in these parts:

    The following from Savannah’s Jewish E-news:

    Savannah is Home to Internet’s Head Yenta
    GirlsWith the credo, “From the edge of the Diaspora rises a new generation of Jewish mother” comes a fabulously irreverant, inciteful and insightful weblog, Yo Yenta, written by Savannah’s own Jessica Leigh Lebos.

    The weblog reflects a great diversity of Jewish thought with recent posts of ” Tsotchke of the Week: Blessing on a Chain,” post on Ann Coulter, Halle Berry, “What’s Wrong with Hebrew School,” and links to numerous video clips from throughout the world.

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