Tonight’s Kaddish is for Chuck Stine, my friend Sharon Jacobson Stine’s husband, on his Yahrtzeit. Sharon’s remembrance of Chuck is on our minyan’s yizkorim page.
I knew both Chuck and Sharon when I lived in Chicago and worked in the Chicago freelance musician scene. I knew Sharon better than Chuck, but I did know Chuck, both as friend and as boss. Chuck was banda manager at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Banda means “off-stage band,” for all those parts—more common in opera than you might think—where musicians play offstage to impersonate a local band or whatnot. I had the privilege of playing in the banda several times, and Chuck was the guy who hired, managed, and sometimes joined us backstage. Nice guy. Great trumpet player.
Sharon, I know you’re not alone in missing him and appreciating his smile and laughter, which he always shared generously. I can’t remember if you and Chuck ever had dogs, but if you did, I’m pretty sure you both would appreciate the first take that Mira and I tried to do of our Kaddish tonight for Chuck. Mira’s dog, Roshi, was lying quietly under the piano while I laid down my horn track and Mira started laying down her vocal track, but my dog Kjersten was another story entirely.
Kjersti is a twenty-month-old chocolate labrador retriever, which means she’s still a puppy and still rather goofy, sometimes bordering on completely nuts. She’s got quite a baritone voice on her—surely a voice to be appreciated by opera fans!—and something got her going while Mira was trying to recite her Kaddish for Chuck. She started barking.
And then howling.
She went bonkers, basically. And somehow, Mira held it together and kept on reciting. And reciting. And reciting.
While Kjersti got louder and crazier, and I started cracking up.
Mira started adding deadpan commentary in Hebrew—”and peace to all Israel… and peace to all the dogs… and sorry about the dogs…” as my giggles grew louder and Kjersti’s howling continued.
Mira started cracking up, too, and she gave me a look to say, “Oh, come on—stop the recording and let’s try this again,” but I said, “No, finish it” between hysterical wheezes, thinking that perhaps Sharon and Chuck would get a laugh out of the insanity of it all. So Mira finished it.
And then I took the dogs outside, and we muted the dog-and-prayer track, and Mira recorded the text again.
So tonight’s kaddish is actually the second, somber take, and in accordance with the rules of the project, I’m also posting the first take—in the next, a “daily kaddish” bonus post—as the Kaddish for Chuck Stine, Blooper Reel Edition, with the hope that it feels a little bit right to Sharon that we also remember Chuck’s sense of humor in this way.
Sharon, our thoughts are with you. Chuck, may you rest in peace.