Be Inspired Through Story and Song
Written by Tamara Frankel
Photography by Tammi Belfer
This is the theme of this year’s Empowerment Series of the Jewish Senior Alliance. The first of four sessions, held at the Peretz Centre, was “Be Inspired through Story and Song.” Gyda Chud, co-president of JSA introduced the two presenters to whom she referred as “A gift to our community” – Shanie Levin, the story-teller and Myrna Rabinowitz, singer and guitarist.
Myrna opened with the Yiddish song Abi Gesunt (As Long as You Are Well) and the audience echoed enthusiastically the refrain “As long as you’re well, you can be happy”.
Shanie followed with a story by Kadia Molodowsky, the first lady of Yiddish poetry, A House with Seven Windows about a proud, strong heroine in the mid 19th century who embraced the dream of “normalizing” Jewish life through a return and settlement in the land of Israel.
Other songs by Myrna included the Yiddish translation of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, (Halleluje in Yiddish), as well as Sleep Little Boy, a Yiddish song that Myrna wrote eight years ago for her first grandson. She ended with the Yiddish rendition of Sunrise Sunset from Fiddler on the Roof (Tog Ayn Tog Oys).
Tall Tamara, by Abraham Karpinowitz, both sympathetically comic and painfully tragic, was another inspiring story of Vilna’s poor and the unexpected dignity available to one woman through a chance contact with Yiddish literary culture.
Ted Allan’s Lies My Father Told Me was another inspiring story Shanie read, about a relationship between an 6 year old child and his grandfather that transcends generations through their deep connection. This story was made into a Golden Globe winning film. The last inspiring story If Not Higher by I.L. Peretz was about a Rabbi who demonstrates that doing good deeds on earth may be a more exalted activity than doing God’s will in heaven.
Gyda thanked the performers and urged the audience to attend the up-coming events. Marilyn Berger, who initiated the “Light One Candle” project for which a beautiful card was designed to help JSA celebrate Hanukkah, urged the audience to spread the light and make a special donation to help JSA continue with the Peer Support program – the jewel in our crown, as well as the advocacy group. Let the light never go out!
Today’s afternoon at Peretz was indeed inspiring and invigorating.