Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ya'alili = What you make of it

We have been hearing this song every day at Ramah Day Camp in Nyack, where we are spending our July days and where the campers dance to this song every day (it is one of this summer's theme songs that is to be performed at July's zimriyah).

If this isn't a celebration of Jewish unity, we don't know what is! Loving the blend of different cultures within the Jewish world. Not simply when the band, 8th Day, sing, "Ashkenazi and Sephardi" but when they say "Tanz tanz tanz habibi," a blend of Yiddish for "dance" and Israeli/Arabic slang for "my sweet friend."

The Whole Phamily that is gathered in this video (which, sadly, ends of being a bit of a promo for the Brooklyn kosher food store Pomegranate, which to tell you the truth we were not terribly impressed by contrary to mainstream opinion, although the marketing and cleanliness of the store we recognize is superb) is really a joy to watch!

Great performance, tune, and overall message, 8th Day!

It don't hoit that the Marcus brothers are Lubavitchers...the Rebbe has done his holy work yet again.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Plain White T's: Rhythm of Love

We don't listen to much new music, but we simply love this tune that went live last July.

Plain White T's is the band.
No, we don't think they're Jewish.

And yet there are many reasons why this song earns its spot on the Whole Phamily:

  • The tune itself is feel-good, positive, heart-warming.
  • The band's name evokes minimalism as well as Hanes and Fruit of the Loom.  Simplicity + 100% cotton = A good thing.
  • The video features a vintage Mercedez-Benz:  our dream car (we prefer a '79-'82 300 series, whereas the model in the video looks more early to mid '70s).
  • The tune is featured at the end of the newly-released No Strings Attached, starring the lovely and soon-to-be Yiddeshe mammeh  Natalie Portman (who we saw in 1997 in The Diary of Anne Frank on Broadway).  We were psyched to learn that Ivan Reitman is still pals with our cousin Joe Medjuck who was a co-producer (no, we've never met Joe, have been told he's a great guy, and yes, Grandpa Archie loved kippered snacks and telling stories of his growing up;  affect a Cape Breton accent:  "When I was a little boy in Caledonia....]
  • The length of the video itself is 3:29 minutes, which is a significant number for us as it is the 3 digit telephone exchange we grew up with.  Remember, we like numerical synchronicity?

Now just watch and listen, it's good stuff!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting Raw. Getting Back to the Land in a Final Frontier of our Good Ole U.S. of A.

Getting back to our roots as at least partially a blog about Jewish names, we are currently interested in the last name Safron.

We have mentioned one Safran who has hit popular culture big time.  But we didn't get terribly into its meaning.

We have now come across a Jeremy with the last name Safron, and we venture to think that the names are related and they are simply different spellings. 

(side note:  How can we really trust what we can grab on the Internet?  We need an Onomast.  We also should read this article about Jewish namesDr. Aaron Demsky is the person who could make sense of any of this.  Safran and Safron the same thing?  Does the Jewish version really lead to the yellow spice  (this site states the "Jewish name is mainly ornamental," leading us to believe no connection there for the Jews)?   Umm.. can folks with this family name in the Jewish world lay claim to the Safran family crest?  Nah...that last part doesn't sound terribly kosher.  It's not like we come from Sheffield, Shetland or Stuart stock.  Those are all Other S's.)

Our humble guess is that Safran and Safron are connected to the Jewish name root Shapiro, which comes from the word "sofer," meaning scribe (our trustworthy torah, mezuzah and tefillin writers of yesteryear...add in another item writable on parchment and you get the whole megillah).

The Magilla Gorilla Show
Uploaded by AH3RD. - Full seasons and entire episodes online.

(side note:  No, neither Hanna nor Barbera were Jewish, but Barbera was born on the Lower East Side and presumably grew up around many Jews, having been exposed to the word megillah possibly while frolicking the halls of Erasmus Hall High School .  Just our guess....)

Back to Safran-Safron-Sofer connection:

You get variations such as Schapiro (as in the wine), Sapir, Safer (as in Morley), Shufro, Shaefer (as in the beer, but highly unlikely those were Jews), Shaffer (as in Paul)...have you caught on to our groove yet?

Now back to Jeremy Safron.

He's a raw foodist, a pioneer in the raw food world.  He is an inventor.  He is youthful.  He is into video games and martial arts, in a peaceful way, if you can imagine that.  He bottles Living Clay  (reminds us of Dead Sea mud, no?).   He created the most delicious snack food, PowerWraps (he sold his idea), which we are trying to get more New Yorkers to enjoy.  Would you believe you can only get them in one spot in NYC?   Jeremy lives in one of the most beautiful places in our country on the island of Maui.   Like all good hippies, we were there in 2002.  We have visited the town of Paia, picked up necessities for our week, saw the road to Haiku up on the right before the infamous Road to Hana begins, spent time at the Tradewinds Cottages, hiked into the Bamboo Forest, and even ate a fresh meat coconut cut by Mike with a machete (for $5...we were ok with that).  How can we forget the vintage bubble letter name mugs produced by Carmel-by-the-Sea that were hanging at Grandma's Coffee (they aren't for sale, just for use by locals...good thing we still have our own from 1980)

Perhaps we could have simplified the above-written paragraph into a haiku of our own.

Or not.
Amazing stuff way out there. 

And a whole lotta Jews, too.

Further to our point:  we are all linked and and if we seek out the goodness on the earth (as you might know, Ram Dass is doing much better than he had and is running his retreats), the earth will be a better place.  So glad to learn that, indeed, the former Richard Alpert has met with Reb Zalman.

At long last, we present Jeremy Safron, author of The Raw Truth:  The Art of Preparing Living Foods.  We believe very much in illumination, however we do believe that Everything truly is connected.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Aliyah Revolution...with an antelope sticker to boot!

Just a few posts ago we were discussing the name Fleicsher...

well, Kumah is doing it right, with their eye on the prize...Zion (aka Israel).  And with a Fleisher leading the group.  Let's get to Israel, or at least check out Yishai Fleisher's videos.  He's got a great message and gets it across with fluidity.  We like it.  It speaks to us.  And he even speaks at the conservative shul in Newton!  Didn't you know someone at Newton North?  Or was it South?  Gotta love the library in Newton.  Love that place.  And, one final connected thought:  fig newtons aren't as healthy as you once thought.

Check out that above-listed video - for current heads in the know, that antelope sticker in the first 5 seconds is spot-on!  Love, love, love it!  It surely made us smile, smile, smile.

Here's a great antelope we had the privilege of seeing at SPAC last summer:

Decent sound.

We happened to be outside of the pavillion that you see in this video.  We were on the open grassy field just behind the family section.  This beautiful upstate lawn was devoid of New York City crowds.  Now that's the way to be.  Especially for running antelopes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Three is, quite indeed, a Magic Number, but 18 is the highest and means Life

We didn't really love to watch TV when we were growing up in the 70s and 80s (strange, right?), but we became acquainted with Schoolhouse Rock's "Three is a Magic Number" at a Gathering of the Vibes outdoor music festival some time in the late 90s or early 2000's.  Its writer, composer, and original performer, Bob Dorough, was there in Bridgeport, Connecticut on a side stage performing some of Gen X's most iconic memories from Saturday morning cartoons.  While the main stage mainly occupied jam bands such as the Radiators (we linked you to their Zeke's copyrwritten "Fish Head Manifesto," a deep piece of prose in its own right), Rat Dog, Deep Banana Blackout and moe, we were drawn to the side stage. We remember getting really down with this song in particular.  And we mean reallllllllllllllllly digging it, grooving to it, and thinking of its meaning other than simple math.

Wait, isn't that what Schoolhouse Rock intended to do?
Get its listeners to rock out?

First, a posthumous thank you to its brilliant creator, ad exec and Yalie David McCall.  and industry exec Michael Eisner (whose Wikipedia entry attributes much of his success to canoe camp in Vermont as a boy...good stuff!), for bringing it to the American people.  Wow, that is pretty early in Eisner's career. 

A little bit of background with regard to the number 3 in Judaism:

1.  The 3rd day of creation (Tuesday, duh) the only day during the creation of the world when the infamous line "and it was good" is mentioned twice.  There is a custom among certain Jews to get married on this day because it offers good luck.

2.  There were 3 patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob)

3.  (Question:  are you thinking, well, there is also the  Holy Trinity in Christianity, so it's not just Jews who hold this number is high regard?  Indeed, you are correct!  Dorough himself said it is an "ancient magic trinity." There is something there, we agree, but this is a site leaning more Jewish but we'll give you that.  There is something there.  Indeed, when a person can be named after their father and grandfather and given the suffix "III" and then from there get the nickname "Trey" that, too, is significant.)  Ok, so there's your answer for number 3.  Meaningful and unifying all the same.

4.  Three is strength, in Hebrew "chazakah."  When something occurs once in the world, this is normal, this is usual.  Two times, now we're talking.  Three times?  Now that is a miracle.  And that miracle is strength.  Check out Askmoses for more on that.  The holiest of holies the Lubavitcher Stango, a concealed great of our time, said as much the eve of his wedding just moments before the start of Chanuka in the year of segula b'yisrael.   For further reference, check the video Makin' it Halachic which is currently unavailable online.  Hoping to upload it one of this many moons (if you read thus far, you should know that we aren't too terribly off on a tangent, but it's not like this is available to put out there for the masses.  Yet).

Ok, we lost you there, let's get back to earth.

A quick check on the covers of this song include a sample by De La Soul, a cover by Blind Melon, and a modern version by Jack Johnson with regard to the environment.

Here is Blind Melon's cover, a nice sound.

Jack Johnson went to Hawaii to discover the meaning of aloha.  (We are big believers in being here, now.  Not sure if Johnson is acquainted with the Ram Dass, nee Richard Alpert.).

He gets to the number 18 (3 times 3 times 3) the 18th letter of the alphabet is R.  He takes Bob Dorough's iconic song and uses it to talk about the environment.

We are only guessing that Mr. Johnson, who is singing the environmental message about reduce, reuse and recycle (very different 3 R's that existed in the mid-century rubric of reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic) didn't realize at the time that 18 is the numeric equivalent in Judaism to life.  and one very important to Judaism and Torah values (indeed, we are approaching Jewish Arbor Day called Tu B'Shvat, the birthday of the trees) ).

Or maybe he did.

If so, he wasn't overt.

In any event, thank you to the Annenberg Foundation for funding this very wise re-writing of this iconic song for us Gen X'ers. 

Back to the number 18.  Or was it the 3 Rs?

L'Chayim!  L'Chaim?
We actually never fully watched Fiddler from beginning to end, but you do remember this scene, we hope:

L'Chayim, that famous word to so many even bagels and lox Jews, is equal in gematria, or Jewish numerology, 18.  To life, as it were, is a combination of the Hebrew letters "chet" and "yud."  You know, "Chai"?  How many Jews have you known to wear a gold chai around their neck (ugh, a bit gauche for us, but maybe that's just a hangup of ours).  A nice, big hairy chest with a nice thick gold chai nestled somewhere in there.  Reminds us of Grandpa Al, whom we loved so much, especially when he was all leathery tan after a winter in West Palm.  Remember the trips to Boca and Delray, and how can we pass up Worth Avenue.  End the day with an early bird special (dinner at 4pm, we are so glad we had grandparents in Florida) and pick up some groceries at Publix, and we're golden.

So essentially, we have been thinking a lot lately about how 3 is a magic number.  It is currently a Tuesday as we write this, and we woke up in the middle of the night thinking about this tune.  We didn't know that Jack Johnson made it into an environmental message.  Our friends' connection to the Jewish concept of Teva, or nature, would appreciate that.  (yes, there is also the Teva sandal company and Israeli-based Teva pharmaceutical company, both worthy ventures in their own rights...we aren't sure if the sandal company's founder, Mark Thatcher, is Jewish, but he spent time in Israel from which he borrowed the Hebrew word for nature).

And it's getting very close, about 2 weeks to go, to the Jewish Arbor Day, aka

Tu B'Shvat

In summing up, the moral seems a little bit obscure (it often comes back to Phish, doesn't it?  Check out this video of their song Cavern where they perform the "in summing up" phrase towards the end of the song):

The moral:

Go hug a tree!

Julia Butterfly Hill , though not Jewish, surely did this in the 90s.

Our tradition has been loving trees for centuries.  Click on the Eitz Chayim/Tree of Life link here for a beautiful expression of this idea by Oy Baby.