Peter McCutcheon and I performing a ballad

I’m still on about this topic having attended a memorial service (void of any religious connotation or indeed coffin — I am a Cohen). It was a moving affair with a “who’s who” of music in Melbourne in attendance. I hadn’t seen many of the musicians in a while and some of them seemed to have aged less gracefully than others. It did occur to me that they were likely thinking the same about me. I met Wilbur Wilde who graciously introduced himself to me and seemed to know all about the band.

Schnapps’ tenor saxophone player, William Leonard Horowitz,  presented a musical history of Peter’s life, peppered with amusing anecdotes. Peter had performed on literally just about every live Channel Nine program, going way back to the Bert Newton show and much more. He’d played on well-known Australian movies all the way down to the “Pot of Luck” live talent show (and yes, Young Talent Time too).

I was just looking at my iTunes library and noticed a ballad, מהרה ה׳ by Shwekey, which I had performed with him four years ago. Remember, Peter was close to deaf, and there was no chart, and we hadn’t played this in a while. Please excuse my mistake at the end  [ … my head was somewhere else. It was my daughter’s wedding and I sang and danced live … not easy]

Some klezmer and more

Hat tip to Abe. I enjoyed this performance though I’m not the world’s greatest Klezmer fan. While I was watching, I had positive thoughts about these guys thinking “heck, normal frumaks, using their God-given talents and not spooked because a lady or ten are behind them or in the audience”. Compared to the images we have seen lately, I almost felt relieved!

At the same time, I wondered, how many kids are there who should be

  • musicians
  • tailors
  • cabinet makers
  • shoemakers

Unfortunately, the image our “Gedolim” or the so-called “Daas Torah” that is “approved” for the masses, resonates with the view that everyone, or almost everyone is somehow born with a God-given talent for learning; that is, תורתם אומנותם. In the words of R’ Zishe, we won’t be asked why we “weren’t Moshe Rabennu”, we will be asked why we didn’t achieve our potential.

It is true, that many are seeking “computer work” and the like, and training for this. Each to their own. Our education systems need to nurture the simple message of each to their own. We won’t fully achieve that unless we also formerly teach respect for every type of Yid; yes the tinker and the tailor and candlestick maker. It must start at Kindergarten and be a developing theme with a formal curriculum. It must be treated with no less application than an anti-abuse or bullying policy. Somehow, through the tomes of Talmud and the pages of Chumash and Meforshim, we’ve come to develop children who have the most selective forms of אהבת ישראל. We, the Yidden who try to be frum, yes, each group, from the white left to the black right, needs to sit down and infuse this into the schools. We’ve become elitist. We are not an elitist religion. We are מחוטב עציך עד שואב מימיך.

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