Making sense of the past...BLOG March 31, 2012

Sometimes, we have to wait nearly a lifetime to grasp how certain parts of our lives, certain aspects or events, make sense in the whole scheme of things. While I have come to understand how everything in the world is interconnected some twenty years ago in a philosophy course, it still seemed to me that my life was, due to circumstances, a somewhat random patchwork of zig-zags and detours , often going in several directions at once, and just as often, going nowhere at all.
This week, it all came together. Through an incredible project called “Honeycomb Way”: A Musical Journey into the Sacred” , conceived and produced by Evelyn Tauben and led by Frank London and Yair Dalal, I have been able to combine most of the main directions that interest me, namely Hebrew liturgy, traditional Yiddish music, and my own, newly created Yiddish music. As well, I have been able to further my, until now passive knowledge of Iraqi Jewish liturgy, absorbed by being married into an Iraqi Jewish family. The personal informing the professional (always a good thing, I believe).
And today, a more distant past learning came to bear fruit. As a child, I did not want to learn Russian. It was forced upon us by the communist regime and we did all we could to learn as little as possible. Then, I couldn’t care less about the suffering and sacrifice of the Russian people, and of Russian soldiers during WW II. When we had to learn to sing “Katiusha”, I mocked it as much as all my friends did. Today, I had the honour to take part in a most touching event: a project called “Jewish Life and Death in the Soviet union during World War II”. My Rabbi Tina Grimberg asked me to learn three songs sung by WWII Russian soldiers, because a number of the Jewish Russian veterans were coming to our Shabbat service at Congregation Darchei Noam, and we were going to honour them in word and song. March 2012 being one of the busiest months of my life, it was no easy task to learn Russian songs, but boy- was it worth it. This morning I had the honour to sing Zhuravli (White Cranes) and Tjomnaja Noch (The Dark Night) in front of these brave people, Russian Jewish vets, many of them proudly displaying rows of medals on their jackets… they sang, they cried; I sang, I cried. These were the people that picked my mom off the road as she escaped from Terezin, and fed her. They come from a nation that lost 27 million in the Great Patriotic War. Rabbi Tina asked me to conclude the service with Katiusha. Everybody joined in, and for the first time, my learning Russian, and this song, made sense.
What an incredible journey, this month of March. March 5th, my beloved project with friend/colleague Roula Said, “Bridges” – Jewish and Arabic music in dialogue, - presented at the Al Green Theatre, concert and our CD release. Then, writing arrangements and new music for a new Yiddish music recording (a.k.a. Fray 2), rehearsing and recording almost the entire album in a span of 10 days. Done! With no more than 24 hours to regroup, here comes Honeycomb Way – intense workshops, rehearsals and finally a performance at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts on March 28th . March 29th, the Fray band and myself record the final cut for our new CD, with Yair Dalal. My arrangement of his haunting “Perfume Road”, in Yiddish. With maestro Dalal on oud and violin… This is the music I have always dreamed of making. And here it is… am I blessed, or… am I BLESSED!?? Coming home that night, I started learning these unbelievably touching Russian songs for this morning’s service, and today, we all cried. It all makes sense, just sometimes… you really have to wait. A lifetime. It’s worth it.


  • Vladi
    Most incredible to read your great story having just seen the Polish film In Darkness tonight...thank you, your greatest fan V.... Spasiba

    Most incredible to read your great story having just seen the Polish film In Darkness tonight...thank you, your greatest fan V.... Spasiba

  • Zorka
    touching and amazing

    touching and amazing

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