kaddish in two-part harmony podcasts

daily kaddish: chez rebecca

Today Mira and I visited her mom, Rebecca, for a mini Seder, and I recorded a kaddish afterward in her great room. Wow.


Today Mira and I visited her mom, Rebecca, for a mini Seder. Rebecca was to make a pronouncement on our charosets, but that never quite occurred. Rebecca ruled my Yemeni charoset out as a “warrior’s charoset,” far too spicy for her. She considered Mira’s traditional, minimalist charoset to be “authentic enough,” but with a sniff. I don’t think she got around to tasting my hybrid Ashkenaz-Sephardi recipe.

I think Mira won, but it wasn’t clear.

Fortunately, she loved my matzoh ball chicken soup, remarking that my including chicken meat was “very original!” but that it needed lemon juice. She was right. I’m okay with that.

And Rebecca gave me her recipe for charoset: a combination of medjool dates (“too expensive,” for the meaty texture) and deglet dates (“for their lustre”), walnuts, comb honey, and two or three days maceration in Kijafa, the Danish fortified cherry wine.

After our mini Seder, we moved into the great room, where it was my great privilege to play Kaddish for Rebecca, Mira, and Rebecca’s neighbor Beth, who remarked upon arrival that she played horn in high school.

I’m better with an audience, that’s all there is to it. All three women were rapt. Their attention helped me find the way the music wants to go.

And wow—the acoustics in Rebecca’s house were remarkable. That house was built for a horn player. What a treat to play there.

By erin

Erin Vang, PMP, BMus, MMus, is Owner and Principal Pragmatist of the consultancy Global Pragmatica LLC®, offering custom JMP scripting, localization program management, and facilitative leadership services. She is also an orchestral horn player who freelances in the San Francisco Bay Area and plays assorted brass for the celebrated dance bands Midnight Smørgåsbord and contraPtion. More about Erin…

4 replies on “daily kaddish: chez rebecca”

This is what I wrote under The Shikse makes Charoset:

mira says:
24 april 2011 at 22:07

Well, we did the ultimate taste test: my Sephardi mother.

The three samples of charoset were:

Erin’s Yemeni charoset
Erin’s Ashkenazi syncretic charoset
Mira’s Sephardi charoset

My mom thought the Yemeni charoset felt like brave souls (can’t remember her exact words for some reason). But Erin remembered. See above. Warrior’s Charoset. Exactly!

I’m not sure she even tasted the weak-colored Ashkenazi charoset at all.

She looked at mine, as declared it as it should be. That was the normative charoset — which means that I hadn’t strayed too far afield. Though she did make one correction that I hope I remember to heed next year.

She did not judge them. But in my opinion, the Yemeni charoset wins. Not necessarily for taste, but for it’s take on bravery. And for its ability to give us visions of that beautiful land.

Erin, thank you! A worthy competition, indeed.

The house was built for an opera singer — but oh, my, was it embracing your horn!

In my opinion, yours won. It evoked the desert and your family’s tradition. Mine were a couple of good recipes that turned out pretty well–but next year at Beit Malkhut with the kumquats that I forgot I’d need for the “weak-colored” stuff.

As for today’s recording, made by iPhone in your mom’s house, see the comments on the previous day’s recording.

And another thought about this Kaddish at your mom’s house:

Look at what we’re doing, Mira. We’ve gone from grieving deaths together in a collaborative project at the remove of email, blog, and podcast (and before that Dropbox file-sharing) to sharing in the rituals also of life: a big dinner with friends, an intimate lunch in which I get to know your mother—not just your father, for whom I was too late.

Our collaboration might be an original twist on the Kaddish bereavement ritual, but the Kaddish ritual is doing its job of bringing us both back into life over the course of this year—of bringing our attention back into matters of the living.

Thank you for joining me in this process, Mira.

How could I not do this kaddish in two-part harmony — despite the outrageously steep learning curve?

And, oh, Erin — I didn’t tell you when we were there. My mother lies in her hospital bed in her own bedroom. But that is the same hospital bed and the same room in which my father died.

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