Category Archives: Uncategorized

“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.

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

Kivvunim is making its way into the world

Kivvunim is now available through CD Baby. Just click here to purchase a disc or an mp3 download of the album. Amazon, itunes, etc., are in process — but CD Baby is a really great way to support independent artists (and in this case, youth programming at Temple Mount Sinai), since the vast majority of the money you pay for the music is passed along.

You can also listen to the whole album streaming by clicking below.


A story for Yizkor, with thanks to Rabbi Marder

Smart rabbis know that a good place to start their High Holiday prep is to ask, WDJD — What Did Janet Do? I don’t know if Rabbi Janet Marder was the first rabbi to tell I.B. Singer’s “The Castle” at yizkor time, and to contextualize it, briefly and beautifully, but the sermon archive on her synagogue’s website is where I got the idea. Todah Rabbah, Rabbi Marder.

Who shall live….

“Who shall live for the sake of others; who, dying, shall leave a heritage of life.” I’ve always appreciated that line from the top of page 311 very much. It has helped me to draw some meaning out of the unetaneh tokef prayer on the pages that follow – pages that agitate me, year after year. “Living for the sake of others” and “leaving a heritage of life” takes the edge off of a prayer that proclaims at its heart: “On Rosh Hashanah it is written; on Yom Kippur it is sealed…who shall live and who shall die.”

With all due respect to the author of the poem, whose identity is lost to history: no it isn’t. Continue reading

The Ultimate Endowment Campaign

The great Jewish investment banker turned philanthropist Moses Montefiore – the Warren Buffett of his day — was once asked what he was worth. He mentioned a number that seemed, to the questioner, ridiculously small. “That can’t be your net worth, sir!” You must be worth ten times that!”

Montefiore answered: “I guess I misunderstood your question. It seems you want to know how much money I have, and that is indeed a larger number than I shared. But since you asked what I’m worth, I told you how much I give to tzedakah.”

This little story reminds us of the value of our financial commitment to charity and justice, our tzedakah. Our monetary generosity is indeed a great measure of our true value — perhaps an even greater measure than the more commonly used “net worth.” We are not merely the sum of our assets, less the total of our liabilities. That figure tells us what we have, but it does not tell us who we are. Continue reading