Bazaar Ensemble serves up some spicy new Jewish music

Every once and a while a group of wildly talented musicians will travel back in time and grasp a very old poem and an old tune and spin them into the current moment with a magical new spirit. This song is one of those once and a whiles.

Bazaar Ensemble are L.A. based folks who are adding some full throttle soul to a tune that I, admittedly, associate with both a choice Eric B. & Rakim sample and the late great Yemenite-Israeli superstar Ofra Haza. This new version of the 17th century Hebrew poem by Rabbi Shalom Shabazi is simply off-the-hook.

When I think of the classic Ofra Haza version, I imagine her beautiful high pitched tone. Here, lead singer Asher Shasho-Levy brings a grounded energy to the song and when the drums kick in and the energy picks up this tracks takes flight. And it doesn’t hurt that this video is shot with cinematic grace. Give it a listen!





Honeysuckle & Dogwood

Sharing a rough demo track from a musical project some 25 years in the making. The lyrics I wrote back in college, but playing with a group of folks here in Montclair has taken this song to an entirely new level. Special thanks to Nick for sitting in on the drums and to Dave for wrangling uncooperative recording robots. Thank you both! You make us sound groovy. Deep gratitude to Ben and to Debra for your musical talent and general wonderfulness. We’re in a band. For real.

An Open Letter to NY Giant Geoff Schwartz


This first appeared in the New Jersey Jewish News:


Dear Mr. Schwartz,

When I first heard that you, an offensive guard for the New York Giants, are planning on playing against the Dallas Cowboys on a game unfortunately scheduled to begin after sunset on Sunday, Sept. 13, the first night of Rosh Hashana, I have to admit that I was a bit crestfallen.

I know that when you were a college freshman on the University of Oregon team, you took a day off for Yom Kippur. When I heard that the NFL had ignored the Giants request, and scheduled te game on Rosh Hoshanah,

I was hoping for another Sandy Koufax-like headline that I could show to my kids. I could imagine the cameras on the Goodyear blimp zooming out from the billion-dollar Texas stadium during a timeout and zooming in to a local synagogue as they got a nice close-up of you swaying to Avinu Malkeinu.

But then I second-guessed myself. I tried to imagine what it must be like to be a caring and committed Jew as a player in the NFL. I started to ask some serious questions. What are a player’s responsibilities to the team? What would it mean, in a setting where sacrifice and loyalty is valued even above physical safety, to sit one out? Would hearing the blasts of the shofar on Monday morning feel different if you felt like you had, even in the smallest of ways, let your teammates down?

Knowing how intense the rivalry has been between the Giants and the Cowboys, I started to think that maybe, if I were somehow blessed to have my childhood dream to play in the NFL come true, I would make the same decision that you made.

I joked to my friend Adam Oded, a native of Passaic and a lifelong Giants fan, that at the very least we should send you a nice juicy piece of brisket to enjoy in the locker room. But Adam loves nothing more than disagreeing with me, so he suggested that instead of sending brisket we should send a crate of apples and some local honey. This way, he argued, you could share a quintessential Rosh Hashana food with your teammates. And that is when I had the vision:

It would be historic. Professional football teams have been playing on Thanksgiving since the 1890s. Why not let 2015 — or 5776 in the Hebrew calendar — be the first time Rosh Hashana entered into the mix? The TV crew would have a field day creating the popping, spinning 3-D “Happy Rosh Hashana” graphic where slices of apple, like footballs, soared through the air and landed in an end zone of honey. At halftime, crates of apples and jars of honey could be brought out in old-fashioned wheelbarrows while Phish’s cover of “Avinu Malkeinu” blasted on the loudspeakers. It would be good for the Jews. It would be good for America’s apple-growers and beekeepers. And it would be good for the NFL. Coming off a sour season of domestic violence scandals and head injury inquiries, the league might appreciate a blessing for a sweet new year. Can’t a rabbi dream?

Read the rest: HERE 

BREAKING NEWS: We are starting up an online campaign and we aren’t just sending apples and honey to Texas Stadium, we are going to send apples and honey to food banks in the area and support MAZON: A Jewish response to hunger in its efforts to make sure that nutritious food is a reality in the lives of the poor this year.

Our plan: Let’s turn this NFL fumble into something sweet.



Dream Come True by The Halftime Show

Dream Come True – a love song of sorts – is something I wrote especially for my beloved of almost 20 years. Our anniversary is next month! My band, the Halftime Show, is a project with my friends Ben and Craig and occasionally Dave – who helps out big time on this number both producing and banging the drums in a reggae style. So far we played one benefit event and one birthday party, but we’ve got our eyes set on more. Here’s our first “single” of sorts…a fresh release from the studio.


#Throwback to Fifth Grade

20141005_150554I was cleaning out some files and I found this gem. It is my daughter’s fifth grade project: Interviewing me about my fifth grade experience. I can’t help but love this introduction to journalism.

Where did you go to school in fifth grade?

In fifth grade I went to the North Carolina Hebrew Academy, which was a Solomon Shechter school in Charlotte.

How did you get there?

My father drove me to school in his Dodge Dart.

 What did you study?

We studied math, social studies, Hebrew, Jewish studies, science, and creative writing.

 What did you do after school?

After school I liked to do soccer, judo, and acting!

Where did you have for lunch?

We brought lunchboxes to school. I had a Kung Fu lunchbox. My favorite lunch was a cheese sandwich. I probably ate cheese sandwiches everyday.

What did you do at recess?

At recess we would have wars with sticks. We had a fort that was the inside of a large bush. We called our sticks “sap guns.”

When did you have to wake up?

I had to wake up at 7AM and school started at 8AM.

Because someone had to write a Jazz tune for the Omer.

This is still one of my personal favorites from my Jewish seasonal song cycle year. I read the statistic recently that 3% of Americans like Jazz. (Which sounds a few percentage points low, right?) Considering that probably .003% of Americans like songs about the Omer and 3% of Americans like Jazz, the 267 views on this video probably represent 99% of the potential audience. But maybe there are one or two more people who might dig this? I hope so. Enjoy.