“Sing, Sing a Song…”


I am blogging from a Holiday Inn on the road to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. I had a great time interviewing Judy Caplan Ginsburgh over the phone this week for a piece our site. Judy is a singer who has led many children and their parents in song over many years. She does a lot of work with interfaith families so that moms and dads who weren’t raised with Jewish music can sing with their children. We talked about why she sings in Hebrew in an American accent instead of trying to do a fake Israeli one.

By coincidence, my best friend from high school sent me a link to Brian Eno’s essay on NPR about why singing is the key to a long life.

I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor.

You know, it’s kind of funny when someone who all but invented synthesized music is telling you that you should be singing a capella–old Elvis Presley songs, no less.

Anyway, my friend’s son is going to become bar mitzvah, and my friend would like us to sing on Friday afternoon and Saturday after lunch, and she mustered Brian Eno to support this idea. My son is sure to want to sing “Yellow Submarine” and other Beatles songs. He also knows some songs that Pete Seeger sings. Now, thanks to his fabulous Hebrew school, he also knows some of the Hebrew school standards, like the one about the train, “Hinei Rakevet.” (That’s Hebrew for, “here comes the train.” Really profound stuff.) I am hoping to practice some of the Hebrew ones in the car on the last leg of our trip tomorrow morning.

A lot of Jewish education is about developing cultural capital, a vocabulary of words, symbols and behaviors that give a person access to the spiritual or emotional benefits of Judaism or Jewishness. Though I suppose that to some degree, all education is that. It would be nicer if we all shared something more elevated than a vocabulary of 1970s television advertising or Top 40 songs, but I guess if we share it, I can love it. (Do you share enough of those with me to recognize the title of this post?)  So even though I’m very tired as I write this, I’m planning to spend at least some of our car trip tomorrow, singing.

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