Finding His Voice: Toddler Fills House with Jewish Song


May 23, 2011

It always sounds a little bit like Passover at our house. Nearly every day, our 3-year-old son sings Dayenu. He warbles it in the bathtub. He belts it out as he strums his ukulele and marches around the living room and kitchen. Sometimes he hums it before he goes to sleep.

You’re thinking that I should say, Dayenu (enough)? No way. Simon is equally enthusiastic about singing David Melech. Jewish music has become a part of the fabric of our family. Simon likely does not understand the meaning … Continue reading

Choir Festival Shows Power of Interfaith Gatherings


As a teen, I cringed when I was forced to listen to a Christian youth band lead the audience in songs praising Jesus at a public school assembly. But as an adult, when the choice is mine, hearing music of other faiths can bring me to tears. I may not understand all of the words. What moves me is hearing others sing from the soul.

A few weeks ago, I was both participant and observer during the sixth annual Lexington Choral Festival. The name of the festival is a bit of … Continue reading

Making Challah Teaches Lessons about Life


Challah and how it is made has always had a mystique to me. Raised in a non-observant Jewish household, I never saw anyone make the golden, braided bread. As an adult, I bought it often, figuring baking a loaf of challah was beyond my reach. This year, as a secular New Year’s resolution, I made a vow I had avoided for years: I would learn how to make challah.

The New Year is just a few months old, and I have made challah, not once, but twice. Making challah, I now … Continue reading

Never Underestimate Child’s Capacity to Learn Prayer

Sometimes, our children teach us as much as we try to teach them. In a fleeting moment, my almost 3-year-old shows that he has the capacity to learn about prayer. And he surprises me by how he is able to internalize what he hears. You are a blessing, I tell him. Mommy and Daddy are my blessing, he says in return. Continue reading

Renowned cantor, composer teaches humility


My understanding of Hebrew is limited. Rarely do I get the time to intensely learn the meaning of a single prayer. Recently, a renowned cantor gave me that chance. Actually, cantor and composer Linda Hirschhorn gave me no choice but to understand a prayer before I sang it in front of others.

Cantor Hirschhorn, whose specialty is a cappella, recently came to Temple Isaiah of Lexington as an artist-in-residence. She led about 30 of us in 14 hours of rehearsal spread over four days. We then performed with her in … Continue reading

Jewish Toddler’s Santa Encounter at Hanukkah: Is this parental faux pas?

>Our almost 3-year-old son met Santa Claus for the first time last week during Hanukkah. He loves live music so we took him to a local holiday pops concert as a Hanukkah present. Santa showed up to lead Jingle Bells and other holiday – well, Christmas – tunes. It looked and sounded like Christmas everywhere we went.

Egads. Have we committed a Hanukkah faux pas with our child? I don’t think so. It presents challenges, but it’s okay for a Jewish child to brush elbows with Santa Claus, a figure important in the lives of many of our friends. It’s not a holiday Jews celebrate, but Christmas is a big presence in America. Still, it is a challenge to figure out the best way to explain Christmas trappings to a child just starting to develop a Jewish identity. Continue reading