From the beginning, Jews have been a musical people. When God parted the Red Sea, what did Miriam do? She played the timbrel. When Saul was troubled by evil spirits, he called for David to play the harp. King David, in fact, was known as a great musician, and many of the psalms are attributed to him. Psalm 8 begins with an invocation to play a particular instrument: “To the conductor, on the gittith, a song of David.”
Massachusetts has the highest percentage of Jews outside the tristate New York area, and its Jewish community is known as one of the most politically active in the country. So, as the state’s Democrats get ready to select their replacement for the late Senator Edward Kennedy, why is the Jewish voice barely heard?
On the surface, it looks as though Jerusalem is caught in a battle between old and new, as high-tech companies open factories with coveted jobs, while leaders of the large ultra-Orthodox population are adamant that the plants remain idle on Saturdays in observance of the Sabbath.
Knowing Mayer Kirshenblatt, who died November 20 at age 93, was a rare privilege. Through him and his family, I learned about his hometown and a way of life — each remarkable in its own right, as was Kirshenblatt himself.
Bernard Madoff caused a lot of heartache with his titanic Ponzi scheme. It seems only natural that a scandal of this magnitude would creep into the larger culture. After considerable mental strain, the Forward has dug up some notable examples. Determining their taste, or lack thereof, is up to you.