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The people who made me a rabbi most certainly were my teachers at seminary. They taught me text. They taught me theory. They taught process.
My parents also taught me. My friends taught me.
The one thing they all had difficulty teaching me was a love of Judaism. That came from elsewhere. In that regard, two people truly stand out. I have never met either one. Who are they?
They are both singers. The first is Naomi Shemer. She wrote and sang wonderful songs about every facet of life in Israel, about the people, about the land, and about the history.
The second one died today. He was Arik Einshtein. He also sang on similar things, but with an entirely different approach and feel, as we might expect. And he was right. It is beautiful in San Francisco. Like him, I would rather be in Israel.
It was their music that continues to have a profound effect on my soul. I play their songs on itunes. I will often seek out Israeli music stations on line in hopes of hearing those songs.
During the academic year 1988-89, I was in Israel. I remember, especially during the first months of my time there, before the weather got cold, sitting out in the parking lot on the Hebrew University campus at Givat Ram. Inevitably, someone had a guitar. We sat up till all hours of the night singing their songs.
More than any text I have ever studied, that music has connected me to Judaism, to Jews, and to Israel.
May we all be comforted amongst the mourners for Zion and Jerusalem.