We are in the midst of the period in the Jewish calendar
known as The Three Weeks, during which we mourn the destruction that
befell the Jewish people throughout history. There is a tradition
to refrain from attending live music concerts, so I won't be listing
any music events until after Tisha B'av. For a list of some of the
other customs see
I'm spending this weekend at Edenfest, an incredible
retreat -- "A taste of Paradise in the Poconos" -- and I'll be
leading the singing all Shabbos long! My next retreat will be with
Isralight over Labour Day Weekend (8/28) -- don't waste too much
time to register. Check it out online:
Thursday 7/18 is Tisha B'av, and the annual prayer service
at the Isaiah Peace Wall takes on special significance this year.
Join Rabbi Avi Weiss for a meaningful, song-filled traditional
afternoon service (including Torah reading) at 2pm opposite the UN
(1st Ave & 43 St). For more info, call 212-663-5784
Also 7/18 my friend Alon Krausz of the Jewish Outdoors Club
is looking to organize an outdoor kumsitz to end Tisha B'av on a
spiritual high, singing together at some scenic viewpoint, perhaps
in Central Park. If anybody can help lead the singing at this
event, or for more info, contact Alon at vze26jpw@...
601-2128 or see the JOC website: http://www.jewishoutdoorsclub.com
July 19-21 The Meaningful Life Center presents their annual
Shabbos Nachamu camping shabbaton, this year at Lebanon State Forest
(New Lisbon, NJ) with Rabbi Simon Jacobson and special guests for a
Shabbat celebration under the stars and a concert Saturday night.
Cost: $220. For details call Yael at 718-774-6448 or see
July 21-25 is The Thirteenth Annual North American Jewish
Choral Festival at the Nevele Grande Hotel in Ellenville, New York.
Join hundreds of Jewish choral music lovers who will raise their
voices in song in a unique program of choral music. For info call
212-362-3335 or see the website:
NOTE: Kol Isha may be
applicable here; consult your local Rabbinic authority
August 4-18 Pey Dalid is leading a Birthright trip to Israel
(free for ages 21-26) with Livnot U'Lehibanot. An incredible trip
just got better, with the awesome music of this incredible band.
For more info call Shepsel Pesach Lew of the Jewish Educational
Network at 800-678-1300 or see http://www.peydalid.com
While the rest of the country is celebrating July 4, I
reflect on what this day means to Jewish people. Of course the
freedom and democracy of America have been good to the Jews, but the
fact that this year's Independence Day coincides with the Three
Weeks of Mourning got me thinking about where we really belong.
Undoubtedly our wealth and political power have enabled us to help
our brethren in Israel and around the world, but at what cost?
Intermarriage rates are at an all-time high, and the secular values
that we assimilate are often antithetical to our beliefs. The
capitalist economic system may be good for prosperity, but the
accompanying materialistic drive is eating away at our souls. We
need to live in a land that nurtures us spiritually and constantly
reminds us why we're here. So while everyone else is singing the
Star-Spangled Banner and watching the fireworks, my thoughts are on
Israel, the true Home of the Brave, where Jews have to live their
lives under gunfire. We have been mourning for 2000 years and
praying that Israel will once again be a land of the free, not
American freedom that enslaves us with the false promises of
physical desire, but true spiritual freedom that encourages us to
fulfill our divine purpose.
May we speedily see complete peace that fills the entire