Author Archives: Beth Kander

Beth Kander

About Beth Kander

Beth Kander is a writer, who also helps coordinate communication and development efforts for the ISJL.

Here’s to Funny Valentines, Y’all

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If you’re wondering whether or not Jews should send valentines, give chocolates, and generally “feel the love” when it comes to Valentine’s Day, you should read this excellent, nuanced piece on the topic. If you want to celebrate the Jewish Valentine’s Day (yes, there is one – kind of), that won’t be until late summer.

If, however, you have already decided that yes, you want to observe Valentine’s Day in some way, and by gosh, you want it to be a FUNNY VALENTINE (because… Barbra, obviously, y’all!), well, you’ve come to the right place.

After enjoying some of the many Valentine’s Day hash tags this week on social media, like #ActivistPickUpLines and #SochiValentines, I decided to have a little fun with some #JewishValentines.

I started with these:

I love you more than matzoh ball soup. #JewishValentines

Can I call you sometime? My Bubbe thinks I should. #JewishValentines

Be mine! (In a progressive, egalitarian sort of way. And of course I’m asking, not telling.) #JewishValentines

Then I also started thinking about what #SouthernJewishValentines might look like:

We may be a minority within a minority, but the majority of my heart is yours. #SouthernJewishValentines

When you said “shalom y’all,” I knew we were meant to be. #SouthernJewishValentines

We may disagree on SEC teams, but we’ll always have Shabbat. #SouthernJewishValentines

So, if you’re celebrating this holiday or just giggling at it, enjoy the day – and share any great #JewishValentines or #SouthernJewishValentines you come up with on social media, to make some of your fellow Funny Valentines keep on laughing!

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Posted on February 14, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Singing With Mr. Seeger

Yesterday, I learned that Pete Seeger had died.peteseeger

I didn’t hear about it first on the news. No, I heard about the passing of the legendary icon and folk singer through social media. A friend tagged me in some photos on Facebook.

The photos were from my college days, when several students at Brandeis had the privilege of learning from and singing with this iconic figure. Mr. Seeger.

I knew that it had been my sophomore or junior year of college, but I couldn’t remember the exact date, so I went digging. I found an old newsletter from Brandeis University’s International Center for Justice, Ethics, and Public Life. That’s where I confirmed the date and context of his concert and residency at my university:

“Building Community through Songs of Social Justice: Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp performed in concert to a sold-out crowd at Brandeis University’s Spingold Theatre on Monday, January 29th, 2001. Student groups performed during the concert: Women of Faith, Songleaders of the Brandeis Reform Chavurah, and Spur of the Moment.”

PeteSeegerconcertThe memories did not quite come flooding back, but rather began trickling in slowly as I looked at the pictures. It was more than a decade ago. I remembered rehearsing with Mr. Seeger, and with Jane Sapp, an activist and gospel artist. Mr. Seeger was quiet, during the rehearsal; he was frail, even then, and I remember folks being worried that his voice would go out. But he listened to our questions, nodded along, whisper-sang some of the words as we practiced.

There was only one rehearsal when we were all together, as I recall – just one night to run through the basics and the numbers everyone would sing together, and soon thereafter we would be sharing a stage with Mr. Seeger. The man who wrote “If I Had a Hammer.”

If I Had a Hammer, y’all. That’s one of those forever-songs; one of those songs that seem like they just always must have existed.

You don’t get to meet the people who write those songs, let alone sing with them.

I remember being nervous backstage, less so for myself (I was singing with a group; had I a solo, I would have been a puddle on the floor) and more so for Mr. Seeger. He was so slight, so frail at the rehearsal. I was afraid the stage lights and the crowd might knock him over.

But here’s the part of my memory that remains clear: The pure magic of Mr. Seeger in front of an audience.

Faced with the crowd, his eyes lit up. His back straightened. He grinned. He gripped his banjo, and his fingers flew across those strings faster than any normal human octogenarian’s fingers should be ably to move.

“You know the words,” he said. And people did.

And people sang with him. Not just those of us who got to be onstage, but everyone in that room. Everyone. Everyone was singing with Mr. Seeger, and laughing at his stories of traveling with Woody Guthrie and other legends. He’d tell a story, and you’d half expect Paul Bunyan to feature in it. Then he’d start singing again, and so would we. And while he’s no longer here, people will still be singing his words, all over this land.

I looked again at the date of the concert: January 29, 2001.

Exactly thirteen years ago today, I was singing with Mr. Seeger. Today, I’m remembering him. May his memory be a blessing.

This post originally appeared on Beth Kander’s personal blog, and is reprinted here with permission.  Like this post? Join the conversation through MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on January 31, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Southern Snow Days

It’s a Southern Snow Day, y’all! This means a few things. Everyone should be careful on the roads or stay home, of course; safety first.

Here’s what else a Southern Snow Day really means:

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#SNOWDAY

1. Everyone is required to post SOMETHING on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram about the fact that there is SNOW ON STUFF. (Seriously, if you don’t have a social media account, you get one. This is why Facebook was invented!)

2. The grocery stores are really, really low on milk, bread, and eggs. As one Southern friend of mine cleverly pointed out: “We will protect ourselves with a layer of French Toast!”

3. Kids get confused, and then delighted. ISJL COO Michele Schipper reports: “My son had -to quote him- a ‘panic attack’ when he woke up late for school, and didn’t understand why I didn’t get him up!” Once the shock wears off, though, most Southern kids love snow days, even if there’s not really enough snow to make an actual snow man. Snow ball fights for your Lego people, anyone?!

4. We get teased a lot by our loved ones up North, scoffing at our big ol’ reaction to one or two inches of snow. And yes, all right, all right. We know it’s worse up North. We know. But seriously, we’re not used to seeing weather app updates like these:

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(Of course, take note of the projections for later this week… 70 degrees by Saturday? This is why allergies are bad down here! But hey, if you don’t like the weather, wait a day or two!)

Stay warm and stay safe, whether you’re in the South and this white stuff is a novelty or whether you’re somewhere where this wintry weather and snowy-cold is getting old by this point. Cocoa helps, either way!

Posted on January 28, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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