The holidays, so far, have been calm and ecstatic, like fireworks contained in a careful, hand-made box. It feels like we--rabbis, congregants, musicians, me--have figured out how to breathe in safe places despite the unsettled turn of world events these past few months, and so are free to enjoy the music and try to renew no matter what. Or maybe we just know our parts a little better now. And it's two days post-Rosh Hashanah and, miracle of miracles, I do not have a cold (knock wood, p'tui p'tui, evil eye begone! and all those other things other people's grandmothers used to say), reason enough to exult and relax. On Tuesday I have a Yom Kippur rehearsal, since this year I'm back to leading both Shaharit and Minha, followed by copious amounts of deadline work until the edge of Kol Nidre. But I'll be fine. And tomorrow morning, repeat blood tests to make sure all is well for the bone marrow donation (more about that in another post). A week overflowing with the sacred and ordinary, no better preparation for approaching those open gates.
Meanwhile, one of my favorite voices of all time (aside from the cantor at my synagogue) sings a song my father used to, a tune buried so deeply in my past that it took a few hearings of this link forwarded by a friend to understand why it made me shiver and become unbearably sad--and happy, as well, the echo of childhood and sensation of being embraced by the compact, muscular arms of an off-key, deeply resonant bass with a rakish mustache and always a few Hopjes candies in his pocket:
Paul Robeson, Song of the Plains