Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vanz More, Mit Feelingeh

Shalom, chaverim! While the northeastern states in America get their collective tucchuses clobbered by the Mother of All Blizzards, we've been ambling along in mostly sunny Nahariya with only a few days of rain. I never thought I'd be using the words "balmy" and "February" in the same sentence, but here it is: truth is stranger than fiction.

We had some good news earlier in the week: Elul got a new job! He starts bright and early next Sunday, and this time it's working for a successful and established online business that sells information and support services to the public. In other words, it's not a startup, which is a good thing. The job will make good use of his many talents in marketing, journalism and business management, and will be a great source of free Hebrew "immersion classes" (read: sink or swim in the office). For the lead on the job, we are once again extremely grateful to the amazing and wonderful Tamara Klinger-Levy, the employment coordinator for the Go North program of Nefesh B'Nefesh. Tamara truly works tirelessly to help olim find jobs and navigate their way through the Israeli work climate, and has helped us and a number of our friends find work here, which is vital for making your Aliyah a successful one.

In other news, I've been doing my first paid gigs singing at a retirement home just around the corner from us. While I had the idea to do these types of shows the minute I arrived, it took quite awhile to get my repertoire together, buy a good Shure SM58 microphone, and for our wedding anniversary to come around so Elul could give me the gift of a badly-needed sound system. Fortunately, it all came together and I made my debut a couple of weeks ago at the "Yarden" rest home in Nahariya. I was commissioned to do three one-hour performances, which luckily are scheduled in the tiny block of time I have on Sundays between teaching and choir practice. I've done two already and have one left.

The audience is extremely supportive and forgiving of my bad Hebrew that I use to fill between songs, but they are getting more than a little tired of me mainly doing songs in English and keep clamoring for more Israeli and Yiddish songs. Thanks to the internet and YouTube, this week Elul and I have managed to scrounge up backing tracks for the most popular tunes like "My Yiddishe Mameh," "Tumbalalaika," and "Bay Mir Bistu Sheyn." I will be working on extending my repertoire as time goes on, but I realize that as a musician, I sorely lack the canon of knowledge that comprises Israeli, but not necessarily Jewish/liturgical, popular music. I clearly need an "informant" who can help me put together a show-stopping set list that will ensure lots of repeat business.

Speaking of show-stoppers, as we were scouring the web for Yiddish music, Elul came across this gem of a Purim takeoff of "Moves Like Jagger," called "Move Like Graggers." (A "gragger" is a noisemaker used at Purim.) Not only is it an amazingly clever and funny piece of work, but I was proud to see it was created by the rabbis and cantorial soloists of Temple Israel in West Bloomfield, Michigan, where I first got involved in performing Jewish sacred music in the (gulp) late 1980's. Rock on, Temple Israel!

Shavua tov, everyone!

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