Category Archives: Uncategorized

Making Jewish life available

I enjoyed this article by Paul Golin of the Jewish Outreach Institute, which first appeared in the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. I’m glad that Temple Mount Sinai has long been one of those few congregations that doesn’t “charge” people to pray on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and I agree with Golin’s main point:

If we believe in the meaning and value of our heritage, then we should be willing to give it away to anyone and everyone who is interested. Once people share our conviction, they, too, will understand the fiscal needs of our institutions and contribute as best they can.


“Dreams of Peace” a contest winner

My last post, “Proud Papa Kvelling,” announced that my daughter had won a lyric-writing competition sponsored by Babaganewz. Well, it’s been a good week for the Bachs. Today, I learned that my song “Dreams of Peace” was a finalist in the Peace Music Foundation’s “International Peace Song Contest.” I’m really excited to hear all of the finalists (we should all be posted on the Foundation’s web site shortly). Ultimately, the song will join them on a compilation CD.

Proud Papa Kvelling

I’m not sure if there’s another “Simona B.” in El Paso, but the one referenced on the Babaganewz website as an award-winning lyricist is indeed mine. Way to go, Simona!

Click through to hear the song, with lyrics by Simona and music by Craig Taubman, produced by Scott Leader. And while you’re there, check out the rest of the site, which is one of the best things happening in Jewish education these days.

“Dying Creek”

I tried my hand at translating a song from Chava Alberstein’s incredibly rich exploration of Israel beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict, “End of the Holiday.” Chava’s husband, screenwriter Nadav Levitan, is the lyricist. He calls out those who would say that “the Situation” means that Israelis don’t have the luxury of being concerned for the environment. And, he uses the Hebrew selektzia, evoking the Shoah. It’s raw, and powerful.

Belatedly, in honor of Earth Day…

Across from the petrochemical plants
which provide jobs for thousands,
it is hard to fight for the life of
one poisoned creek, suffering and dying.

In this Land, striving and advancing,
it is hard to explain just why it is important
to return the plants to the banks of the creek,
and the turtles, and the fish.

But in the Book of Beginnings it is told
how the species were created.
It is not ours to judge who is expendable,
and who should be written in the Book of Life.

If we begin with this selektion,
who will vouch for us,
insuring that our day won’t come,
that our turn won’t come as well?

And in a rhymed, singable translation, too…

In the presence of the plant that makes the chemicals
from whose sale thousands earn their daily bread,
it is hard to stand in defense of one creek —
poisoned, empty and left for dead.

In this Land, always searching for the next breath,
how could it be even worth the time
to restore the banks, return the reeds,
the fish who have fled, the turtles who have died?

On the first page of the Bible the story is told,
how the world came into being, kind after kind.
Ours is not to judge who gets to live.
We don’t decide who has to die.

If we start with this selektion
who’ll be left to defend us
so that we won’t share the same fate,
so extinction will not end us?

With gratitude for sixty-one years of Israel’s existence, and with hope that her next decades will be a time of healing.

Preview – Not by Bread Alone – Nalaga’at
I had the opportunity to attend this performance in Tel Aviv last month. Really powerful.

My Heart is in the East…

Next month’s article for the El Paso Jewish Voice — a sneak preview for my blog-readers…

My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west–
How can I find savor in food? How shall it be sweet to me?
How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
Zion lies beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
A light thing would it seem to me to leave all the good things of Spain–
Seeing how precious in mine eyes to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary. Continue reading