Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Thursday, February 2, 2012
On July 13, 1991 Debbie headlined an outdoor concert at camp to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, WI. A limited edition VHS tape of concert highlights is the source of these performances, posted here with the camp’s permission.
As Debbie sang, she was distracted by the buzzing and biting of “dive bomber” mosquitoes, and also by a small plane that flew overhead with a banner bearing a humorous message for camp Director Jerry Kaye. Hundreds of campers, staff, alumni and fans welcomed Debbie as a celebrity and sang her songs enthusiastically, yet at times she seemed ill at ease, even as she launched into bits of silliness. Beginning the chords of “Kumi Lach” she seemed to be overcome with emotion, perhaps having to do with returning to the place where she had written that song, and so many others, some twenty years earlier.
She was, of course, still learning to cope with the physical limitations of her illness and may not have been feeling great that day. But I wonder, as she looked out at the crowd, if she was being moved by the power of that place, and the realization that more than a few of those singing her songs were the children of her contemporaries, a new generation. I hope she knew how much this new generation, raised on her "Aleph Bet Song" loved and looked up to her.
That night Debbie sang as sweetly as I have ever heard her, offering stunning renditions of “Shelter of Peace," and “The Rainbow Blessing,” and making a point to introduce her Bubbe as she began a very spirited "Miriam's Song." She ended with all the musicians who had played during the evening (yours truly among them) joining her to sing a new song, “The Angels’ Blessing."
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Hey everybody....I'm here at NewCaje, leading a music seminar with Ellen and Peter Allard, David Paskin and oodles of cool Jewish people! We are learning "Blogging for Musicians." Doesn't that sound like fun? This is me having fun. Tonight will be a rockin concert with Julie Silver, Yom Hadash and Kol B'seder (hm...never heard of them)... If you are anywhere near Boston look us up and drop by for one of our evening concerts!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
When I came to the School of Sacred Music (of Hebrew Union College) in 1974 and began to conduct services as a student-cantor I used a guitar to accompany myself. How else was I going to do it? Since joining NFTY in 1968 I had led dozens, maybe even hundreds of services, always with guitar. It was like a part of my body - I knew no other way. Thanks to my wonderful teachers, in a very short time I received the training I would need to be able to daven with or without an instrument, and over the years I have become comfortable in a wide variety of synagogue settings. But, given, a choice, I would rather accompany myself on guitar than sing a cappella or with a keyboard accompanist. It just feels right. What's not to like about setting your own key, tempo, rhythm, and dynamics, and being able to change it on the fly!!?? I can sing a prayer over-and-over, build the ruach to a crescendo, or I can pull back to a whisper, and the guitar follows wherever I go every time. (I can also segue from one melody to another without having to make faces or wave my arms to catch the eye of an accompanist.)
Friday, December 18, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, December 1, 2008
Chanukah's coming soon. Check your TV listings. See the show, make a pledge, give what you can. It's Public Television - it's a good cause.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Here's a blast from the past. Kol B'seder from 1979. Somehow Dan and I were recruited to add our happy-slappy campy kid songs to a couple of episodes of one of the original New York City Jewish cable TV shows, Shalom Corner. I recently found the almost 30 year old Betamax video in a box of old tapes, then I scoured Ebay for a used (cheap) Betamax. Bought a nice old one for 65 bucks plus shipping (they're heavy, let me tell you), which was not a bad price...
While terribly dated, the shows are kinda cute, and here's a sample: Kol B'seder singing Richard Silverman's classic, 'It is a Tree of Life,' complete with the requisite puppets, kids, and Shalom Corner host, Carol Sterling. By the way, anybody want to buy an old Betamax?
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
8/3 Sunday - It had been about 10 years since I was in England, when Kol B'seder sang here for the "Festival of Reform Judaism" in the late '90s. In '95 I was invited to teach and perform at Limmud, which then was just a British phenomenon but is now world famous. Over the years, through Caje, Limmud, and Hava Nashira, many strong friendships have developed among music leaders from the American and British Jewish communities. Personally, it is very gratifying to be welcomed so warmly, and to find that so many of my songs (along with those of Debbie Friedman and others) have been embraced by the Jewish community here. There is also special meaning in being able to sing my own music - so much of it inspired by the Beatles - in the land of Sgt. Pepper.
EJ Cohen is known to many for her sign language interpretations at Caje and other Jewish events. Having just signed on as Education Director for Finchley Progressive Synagogue, she took the bull by the horns and, along with Rabbi Neil James, organized a Sunday morning brunch/concert for me at which over 100 people came. This all took place the day after my flight and some 12 hours after landing at Heathrow. The concert was splendid, with lots of singing, a great deal of laughter, and a real feeling of spirit in the room. To top it off, nearly 300 pounds was raised to support the Israel Reform movement (in dire financial straights at the moment due to the sick dollar) and that amount will be doubled by the British Liberal and Progressive synagogues.
Tomorrow I'll be visiting Camp Kadima in Sussex to sing with a very large group of kids!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Here's a brief travelog so far.
7/20 Sunday - Arrival 5 a.m. Stayed 'overnight' in Yaffo at the new, lovely (and inexpensive) Mishkenot Ruth Daniel. Took the train to Haifa and stayed at Ein Hod with Rabbi Bob and Annette Samuels. Bob is the former director of the Leo Baeck Education Center. He brought me to Haifa for a year in 1981, and encouraged me to compose music for the Leo Baeck Synagogue, 'Ohel Avraham'. On Sunday night I sang for some friends in their living room.
7/22 Tuesday - I visited the Or Chadash Congregation in Haifa, and met with their rabbi, Edgar Nof. He took me downstairs to the bomb shelter, which was the only place in Haifa where services could be held during the Hezbolla bombing during the summer of 2006. I sang for 150 of the cutest kids I've ever seen, at their day camp in the synagogue. We sang songs they knew and I taught them a few new ones. I hope they understood my pidgeon Hebrew. Afterwards they all came up to hug me... That evening, cantorial soloist and folksinger Orit Perlman had 25 people at her house for a party in her backyard. We sang for over 2 hours.
7/24 Thursday - I spent the day with the class of entering cantorial, education and rabbinic students beginning their year of study in Jerusalem. I piggy-backed on their walking tour of Jerusalem - in the morning to Talpiyot and the "Tayelet", and in the evening to the Old City. In the late afternoon I talked to the class of first-year cantorial students, one of whom looked very familiar. She was one of my bat mitzvah students from about ten years ago.
7/25 Friday - Barack Obama has left the building. All that remains is his photo on just about every magazine and newspaper here. The bustle of the work-week is replaced by the bustle of preparing for Shabbat. Tonight I will lead services at Kehilat Mevaseret Tzion, just outside of Jerusalem, and Shabbat morning at HUC.
7/27 Sunday - Just arrived at Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava for a community concert and "shira b'tzibur" (singalong)...some friends from Kibbutz Yahel will be there too. BOY IS IT HOT! Shabbat in Jerusalem was heavenly. More on that when I have more computer time.
7/30 Wednesday - Arrived in Tel Aviv for my last leg in Israel. Kabbalat Shabbat at Beit Daniel Friday. I'll fill in the blanks when I can. More photos coming.
...Next week it's on to LONDON!
Recently hackers got into my website and hacked the index page. But everything has been fixed and the danger is over. A couple of folks told me that their anti-virus programs screamed bloody murder when they tried to access jeffklepper.com. The files have been cleaned and the passwords changed. I truly hope nobody's computer was messed up. It's a good reminder to get the best anti-virus program you can and keep it up to date!
Friday, July 11, 2008
July 20 - 23, Haifa area
July 23 - 26, Jerusalem area
July 27 - 28, Kibbutz Lotan (Arava)
July 29 - August 1, Tel Aviv area