Today is Yom Kippur 5774. On Rosh Hashana God inscribes each person’s fate for the coming year into a book called the Book of Life and waits until ten days later, at Yom Kippur, to “seal” the verdict. During those Days of Awe, a Jewish person tries to amend his or her behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings. “Yom Kippur is the 10th Day of Repentance and can’t mask over the fact that we have looked deeply into our soul over these last few days, we have exposed our weaknesses and shortcomings, and that causes us to weep with anxiety and dread lest I be found wanting on the Day of Judgment. But Yom Kippur is also the Day of Atonement, when all sincere penitents are guaranteed a second chance.” At synagogue the service includes the Kol Nidre prayer (meaning all vows) reaching deep in to our souls. Kol Nidre symbolizes the opportunity to free ourselves from the past and is about letting the inner light shine out. As we’re about to fast for over 24 hours, we first have a big family meal. Yom Kippur ends around sunset the next day with the blow of the Shofar (the ram’s horn) at Synagogue. On Shabat and on every Jewish Holiday we eat Challah – that is jewish special braided bread. I’ve been trying to make it many times and mostly not sharing as it has not been a success. But today, with a little help from Tori Avey’s website “The Shiksa in the Kitchen”, we have a beautiful and tasty Challah bread with photos as proof. Here’s a great recipe if you’d like to try your own including instructions and variations for braiding. I’ve made a 4-stranded challah, a round one (mostly what we use on high Holidays) and a Unified Heart one (Leonard Cohen fans should know what it its). And talking about Leonard Cohen, even though I shared it last year, I dare to share again. His song “Who by fire” is inspired by this prayer from the liturgy of the Day of Atonement. Here’s an amazing live version from the show in Helsinki in 2012 – yes Javier Mas plays an almost 4-minute-intro.
On Rosh Hashanah it is inscribed And on Yom Kippur it is sealed How many shall die and how many shall be born Who shall live and who shall die Who at the measure of days and who before Who by fire and who by water Who by the sword and who by wild beasts Who by hunger and who by thirst Who by earthquake and who by plague Who by strangling and who by stoning Who shall have rest and who shall go wandering Who will be tranquil and who shall be harassed Who shall be at ease and who shall be afflicted Who shall become poor and who shall become rich Who shall be brought low and who shall be raised high.
Tsom Kal & Gmar Hatima Tova צום קל וגמר חתימה טובה
Where do I start my Leonard Cohen story and how do I tell it? Needless to share the part of I’m a fan; loving his music and admiring the man. My story with LC started in my mother’s womb as my father promoted his shows in Belgium in 1974 and 1980 – my birth year. Fast forward to 2009: After working on his legendary concert in the Ramat Gan Stadium in Israel on September 24th, I was asked to join the tour in July 2010 as production assistant. When I got the call from Leonard Cohen’s tour manager, I was first of all very flattered and honoured. Of all working people they met over the years, they had chosen me. Luckily I didn’t have too much time to think, stress and prepare; we were leaving 3 weeks later. For 4 months and a half. 3 months across Europe then New Zealand, Australia, West Canada and the US. As it has now been a long time ago, some memories fade and one keeps mostly the good ones. Yes I was homesick many times. Living in a hotel, out of a suitcase and traveling is not made for everyone. Timing wasn’t good for me either for personal reasons. Being on the move all the time is not an easy thing when you are attached to your family and friends and to your comfort zone(s). But what a ‘mazal’. To see the world and to be part of the most wonderful touring company, the Unified Heart Touring Company. It’s hard work and it’s boring, it’s fast and it’s slow, it’s joy and it’s tears, it’s close and it’s far, it’s winter; it’s summer It’s all of it. All together I visited 45 different cities/countries and did over 60 shows joining the last leg of an ongoing 3 year world tour – that ended up continuing till 2013. I have visited the tour in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and kept in touch with LC until he died. So blessed to have had the privilege to work and know this man. As I said in this interview, for me Leonard Cohen was an idol that became my friend, my grandpa, my rabbi and my shrink.
Collage I made a long time ago with a quote from Anthem: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in“