Honorable Mensch-ion

All That Jazz

As a high school student, I earned minimum wage working one of the best jobs of my life. I was the pianist in a big band, composed of the top jazz musicians in Syracuse. We would travel around the city playing the music of Glen Miller, Artie Shaw, and Benny Goodman. The audience? Assisted living facilities, community centers, Alzheimer’s centers, and community events. I watched the audience as we started each show- sleeping patients, frowns instead of smiles. Yet, as we concluded each show with “In The Mood,” the tenor of the room shifted to smiles, dancing in the aisles, and a sheer sense of joy.

We call this weekend Shabbat Shira, the Sabbath of the Song. We read the words of the Israelites as they crossed the sea into a time of redemption. The Talmud recounts that a young child was sitting on his mother’s lap, and when they witnessed God’s presence, the child lifted his neck and started to sing. How often do we have our heads buried in the sand, only to be lifted, awoken with a song? It is what we do at every occasion of our life. There is no lifecycle event, from birth to death, that is not accompanied by song. The only day that we do not sing is Tisha B’Av, the day that represents destruction in the history of our people.

It does not matter which song you sing this Shabbat, what matters is if you can open your heart to hear the song of your soul.

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