Rabbis Without Borders
Rabbis Without Borders is a dynamic forum for exploring contemporary issues in the Jewish world and beyond. Written by rabbis of different denominations, viewpoints, and parts of the country, Rabbis Without Borders is a project of Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.
“One great rock show can change the world.” – School of Rock
Everyone’s been trying to find their way into understanding the tragic terrorist attacks of the past 10 days. People have senselessly died at the hands of terrorists in Mali, in Kenya, in Lebanon, and of course in Paris, France. As for me, my heart keeps coming back to Le Bataclan, the theater in Paris where 89 people died doing the most Western thing to ever, rockin’ out. I have come to see rock n’ roll as the epitome of what anti-Western terrorists hate, which makes me want to listen all the more.
The terrorists who attacked Paris sought to replace our everyday experiences with images of “death and fear.”
“We’re all afraid,” said Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show.” “We replace that fear with anger a lot of the time. But I think what we should try to choose to do is not focus on the perpetrators, because every attack, whether it’s Paris, Beirut, Kenya, seems less about a specific group and more about an attack on humanity itself.” –New York Times
As Stephen Colbert put it on his first broadcast after the attacks, “If it makes you feel a connection to the people of Paris, go drink a bottle of Bordeaux,” he said. “Eat a croissant at Au Bon Pain. Slap on a beret and smoke a cigarette like this. Go eat some French fries, which I am now calling Freedom fries in honor of the French people.” Colbert even mentioned that people tweeted that they planned on watching Pixar’s “Ratatouille” in solidarity even though it’s an American film.
“Anything that is an attempt at human connection in the world right now is positive,” he said. –New York Times
Since Friday November 13th, the day of the horrible attack, I’ve been fighting for humanity by listening nonstop to the Eagles of Death Metal, the So Cal band that was playing when gunmen opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd. This is not a death metal band, nor a country rock band (the Eagles). These guys are just goofball rockers having a great time. When asked to explain the title of their latest album, Zipper Down, Josh Homme, who was not at the Bataclan because he is also the frontman for Queens of the Stone Age, explained, “Zipper Down is a phrase, like, relax. If someone is getting too excited, someone else will say, ‘Come on, dude. Zipper down just a little bit.’
Silly, profane, rock n’ roll is the epitome of the humanity that Islamic fundamentalist terrorist hate about the West.
Jesse Hughs, the frontman of the band, shared the following in an interview a few days after the attack:
“Several people hid in our dressing room and the killers were able to get in and killed every one of them except for a kid that was hiding underneath my leather jacket.”
“People were playing dead and they were so scared,” he said. “A great reason why so many were killed is because so many people wouldn’t leave their friends. So many people put themselves in front of people.” – Entertainment Weekly Online (visit the site to see a brief but emotional outtake from their recent interview).
EoDM has said that all the profits for their album will go to the family members of people associated with the band that died at Le Bataclan. On the Zippdf Down album, the band covers the Duran Duran song, “Save a Prayer (for the Morning After).” There is a growing online petition to push the song to number one on the charts. I hope it’s successful. Duran Duran has pledged all royalties to a fund to help victims and their families.
After 9-11 we here in America held the Concert for New York. David Bowie played. So did Jay-Z, Eric Clapton, the Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Elton John, The Who, Janet Jackson, Sir Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, and Billy Joel. Right now there is still such alarm and fear. Of course there is – terror strikes deep – but I can’t wait to go to my next rock show. As it turns out, loud guitars and and big-ass drums have always stood for freedom. Andrew Lloyd Weber is making a musical of one of my favorite movies, School of Rock, starring Jack Black. The main lesson in that movie, “One great rock show can change the world.” As an expression of the fundamental freedoms that we celebrate and that the terrorists find so threatening, I believe those words hold a deep truth.
My heart goes out to all the families around the world who have been touched by terror most recently. Rock music has been my way into feeling the gravity of the atrocities. I could have been at that show; I’ve been to many shows just like that one.
I know how shaken the Eagles of Death Metal must be after that horrific experience, but I have a fantasy that they will soon hold up a finger to the terrorists and that they do another show soon – I wanna rock with these guys! For now, I’m blasting their music every time I get in the car. Sometimes I also add Dewy Finn’s backstage prayer from School of Rock:
“God of Rock, thank you for this chance to kick ass. We are your humble servants. Please give us the power to blow people’s minds with our high voltage rock. In your name we pray, Amen.”