A Poem for Purim 2018





Break out the make-up and silicon and send a

brave El Salvadoran refugee woman

To Mar a Lago (Ha-Birah)

And declare a fast day

And in the penthouse

He will extend his scepter

And she will touch his scepter

For the sake of her people.

(For the sake of her people. I know, disgusting. But that is the story.)

And when the lawyer hands her the $120,000 check

She will tear it up into 120,000 little pieces

And she’ll negotiate until she gets what she came for

And all the ICE activities scheduled for September 9, 2019 will be canceled

And the King will dispose of his advisors and, lo, the advisors will herby perform the

Walk of Shame

And their seven-figure book-deals will be rescinded.

And on that day the tens of thousands of El Salvadorans hidden in apartments, homes, and hotel rooms will be safe to return to work, to take their children to school, to walk to the playground without fear of arrest and incarceration.

And the king will say that this was his plan all along.

But it is her name that the children will cheer on forever,

Blissfully unaware of her greatest act of bravery,

And she’ll see to it that in the next generation no daughter of any people will have to touch a scepter that she doesn’t want to touch.

And then there will be:





But until then…

Groggers out! Raise ’em high! Spin!!!

On Wisconsin

From the summer issue of On Wisconsin Magazine!

Crazy for Klezmer



It took Rabbi Daniel Brenner ’92 until now to realize that he just wants to dance.

Brenner has spent two decades finding innovative ways to connect young Jewish people with their faith. Newsweek named him one of America’s most influential rabbis for his work at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, Auburn Theological Seminary, and Birthright Israel Foundation. He currently develops educational programs and trains mentors at Moving Traditions, a Jewish educational organization.

Now he’s working on a new idea for connecting kids with their culture. Brenner — also a musician, playwright, and essayist — is leading a one-person revolution to revive nearly forgotten Jewish dances. “I’m pursuing this crazy dream, bringing people together through dance and reclaiming a ritual that’s been lost,” he says.

On a fall day during his senior year at UW–Madison, Brenner was called to lead High Holiday services for a few hundred students at James Madison Park. Read More

Music Review: Cory Henry “NaaNaaNaa”

Growing up in the Carolinas, I was lucky to hear plenty of Black gospel sounds. There were songs played at family picnics in the park near my house (Freedom Park in Charlotte, North Carolina), church organ grooves on Sunday morning on WPEG FM 98, and the occasional opportunity to go with my family to visit a Black church for an event or concert. I always wanted to sing along. Driving around town with my daughter this evening, this tune came on WBGO 88.3, our local jazz station here in New Jersey. We couldn’t help but sing along. This tune is not just music – it is soul music. To quote Reb Nachman of Braslav:

It is a great thing to hear music from a holy person playing on an instrument for the sake of heaven. Because through this, false fantasies are dismissed, the spirit of depression is dispelled, and the person merits happiness. (Likutei Moharan 54)

Cory Henry, thank you for the happiness. From the album The Revival 2016


Tablet Magazine

Last year, Daniel Brenner had a dream. As he slept, he heard the Klezmorim’s album Streets of Gold, the 1978 classic that helped launch an American klezmer revival. The next day Brenner went to his local YMCA and put on the album to pump him up while he exercised.

“People were streaming by me, coming out of Zumba class,” he said, “and the thought that came to me was: it is time for Klezmer Aerobics.”

So Brenner, a rabbi and Jewish educator who has also worked as a musician and performer since the late ’80s, decided to create Klezmer Aerobics, a mashup of 1980s-style aerobics classes and traditional Yiddish performance; or, and he puts it, a “family-friendly interactive dance/storytelling workout.”  more

80s Klezmer Aerobics? YES! 80s Klezmer Aerobics

In Jewish life, where a typical birthday wish is “Ad meah v’esrim” – “May you live to 120!” it is a little early for me to have a mid-life crisis. So I’m not sure what to call my latest artistic project, 80s Klezmer Aerobics. It is part storytelling/part dance performance/part aerobics class/part Jewish wedding/part theater show/and one hundred percent messhugah. Thankfully the Midnight Nosh team is supporting me musically and spiritually, and my family is supporting me emotionally (by ridiculing me, of course) and the good people of Limmud NY are giving me a stage to turn this dream into a reality. Broadway here we come. But first, the Hilton Hotel in Stamford, Connecticut.

Address to Kehillah Synagogue

The Battle Within: What a Story of Twins Tells Us About the Human Psyche

Delivered November 21, 2015

Simone and Martin Lipman Scholar in Residence

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Eighteen years ago my wife was pregnant and she was feeling a lot of kicking so we went to the hospital for an ultrasound. We did not want to know the gender of our expected child and we told this to our physician. But our physician’s mind lacked stickiness, because when he looked at the ultrasound, he yelled out: “Look! Frick and Frack!” And we turned to each other with a look of “WTF”? This is how we learned that we would become parents of twins. And not only twins, but identical twin boys.   Continue reading “Address to Kehillah Synagogue”