In the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, far in the northeast near the Burmese border, some 7,000 people observe the Jewish Sabbath, kosher dietary laws and rules of family purity. Already, 1,400 of these people, known as Bnei Menashe, have immigrated to Israel. The remaining 7,000 wish to join their brethren as soon as possible in relocating to the Holy Land, the act known in Hebrew as aliyah.
Yizkor, the memorial service chanted but four times in the course of the Jewish year, was composed in the wake of the Crusades, nearly 1,000 years ago. The spirit that spurred its creation has long since vanished.
In the searing heat of a recent Saturday afternoon in July, three young men were disassembling a tent, cleaning out their cooler and packing up their car. After two days at Camp Bisco, a music-and-camping festival organized and headlined by the Disco Biscuits (“Bisco,” for short), the trio were hoping to beat the traffic out of the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, N.Y., about 20 minutes north of Albany.
When Yuda Piamenta was 15, he skipped a day of school. His father, legendary Israeli guitarist Yossi Piamenta, punished his son in somewhat unusual fashion: He picked up a guitar, handed another one to Yuda and instructed him to start playing. Yossi then played a series of dissonant chords over Yuda’s melody. The cacophony might have prompted little more than an earache for some, but for Yuda it was effective reproach: He never skipped school again.
In a large oblong room with raised ceilings and a faded brick veneer, Shmuel Levy was picking up the pieces of his scattered songbook. “This is terrible,” he muttered, crawling along the floor, examining more than 100 three-hole-punched sheets that just a moment before had spiraled from his black music binder. “This is a really terrible thing.”
She’s been called sacrilegious, sinful and a Jew for Jesus. For the first time, though, Neshama Carlebach — daughter of the late rabbi Shlomo Carlebach — is saddled with an adjective that hurts: nannyless.
Perhaps it was inevitable that David Krakauer, the virtuosic clarinetist and klezmer artist, would team up with Fred Wesley, a funk legend who played trombone and arranged for James Brown in the 1960s and ’70s. After all, Wesley rose to stardom playing on such hits as “Super Bad,” and Krakauer continues to garner equal helpings of adulation and derision for his off-beat compositions.