kaddish in two-part harmonyA conversation between an anthropologist and a musician along with a growing virtual minyan, on themes of death and dying, grief, ritual, and the interplay between music and words.
- about beit malkhut
- about the kaddish project
- seymour fromer z”l
- tzaddik stories
Today is Phyllis Greenwood‘s Yahrtzeit.
Mira and I went to Montréal to give our paper about the “kaddish in two-part harmony project” at the annual American Anthropological Association conference and promptly forgot—forgot!! again!!—to record a daily kaddish.
Yikes. Twice at the conference where we’re giving our paper about the project, we forget to conduct the project.
This is only the third time I completely forgot to record a daily kaddish during the year—the first time was during an exhausting business trip to Tokyo, Beijing, and Shenzhen. The second and third were here in Montréal.
Tonight’s Kaddish is for my friends Eric and Jody’s beloved cat Xena, a beautiful tortoiseshell who had to be put down after she began losing the battle with lung cancer.
Mira and I went to Montréal to give our paper about the “kaddish in two-part harmony project” at the annual American Anthropological Association conference and promptly forgot—forgot!!—to record a daily kaddish.
It started with Occupy Wall Street, and it spread. Occupy Just About Everywhere movements, representing the 99%, those of us who are not the 1% top wealthiest Americans for whom it seems just about all laws and especially tax laws are written. And then began the crackdowns—one clumsy, dispiriting attempt after another by local authorities to clear parks of unkempt campers in the name of—
Well, who really cares what the excuse was? We all know that it’s really in the name of ending the embarrassment and shutting down the conversation before people realize how much sense they’re making. And at least one protestor in Oakland, my home town, is now dead as a result of the misguided crackdown led by the mayor I voted for.
Everything about this story is wrong.
Mira requested that today’s Kaddish be for her late mentor George Leonard’s wife, Annie Styron Leonard. She has written about him earlier and will write about his wife soon.
Dad wrote a few days ago to let me know that Alice Gire had died. She was our next door neighbor in Grafton, North Dakota.
I suppose she was an ordinary enough housewife, but is there really such a thing?
She mostly kept to herself, or at least it seemed that way.
She was meticulous around the yard—she swept the sidewalks, probably every single day of the year, in every season. Her trees had that perfect circle of weedless, grassless dirt around their trunks. Her hedges were perfectly trimmed—freakishly so.
Her husband Bob worked for an oil company, and more often than not there was a big oil tanker truck parked in front of their house. He was one of the first in the neighborhood to own a snowblower, and he was generous about using it to help dig out us neighbors.
She nearly lost her son in his late teens—one of those stories of a bunch of teenagers, too much to drink, driving too fast, missing a curve. It made headlines in the local paper—handful of local kids, huge crash, several near death in the hospital. Her son lived, but I think maybe some of them didn’t; I don’t remember.
I wonder what else I don’t remember, or never knew, about the woman next door.
My friend Cori Kesler wrote me a few days before I made this recording for her, and I’m really sorry that I got so far behind in posting these daily Kaddishim that I’m only now sharing it with her almost a month later.
This is a story about friends, moms, daughters, sisters sharing life and death stories. Cori wrote:
I’m in Columbia Falls (near Kalispel). Weeks ago I made plans to come help my friend out after her surgery and then this tragic death happened.
Lily’s older sister who is about 12 wrote the following poem for her baby sister:
WE WILL ALWAYS HOLD YOU CLOSE
My oh so sweet baby
Our beautiful Lillybel
Come to us in our darkest
We showered you in love
For 13 days I held you
Our sweet Lillybel
The more we cry
The more we love
It was and is all
My oh so sweet Lillybel
Our beautiful baby girl
Even if you cried
Even if you need us
We are here for you
And you are up high for
I’ll pick a star up
in the sky
Just for you
And think of you all day.
My oh so sweet Lillybel
Our beautiful baby girl
You knew no cruelty
You only knew love
We shielded you from
Just to save ourselves
Now we are hugging, kissing,
waiting… waiting for
you to show yourself to
My oh so sweet baby girl
Our Beautiful Lillybel
Our one and only
In loving memory of Lillian Isabel Nelson
I dedicate this poem to you
Your always loving Big Sister
This recording I played on my Alexander model 310 triple horn, which I’m trying to sell, using the FiRE app on my iPad. It’s a powerful app, and it’s probably capable of multitrack recording, but I have yet to figure out much of anything about the power-user features of FiRE, so I asked Mira just to record her track after mine and I would put them together later—which I just did.
On 11 November, Armistice Day, I’m almost positive that Mira and I recorded a Kaddish together. We’d just been to the opera together—Xerxes—and got back late. Tired at the end of a long week. It was Shabbes. I think we read it together, probably into my iPhone, but I forgot to look for and transfer recordings from my iPhone to my Mac when my new phone arrived and I reset the old one for my dad to use. There will probably be several more missing.