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Alain de Botton’s short piece of writing on the dark truth about love speaks with care about the human condition — reminding me of Robert Sapolsky’s ideas about embracing paradox and continuing to move forward nevertheless. And, in the hands of Hannah Jacobs and Lara Lee, this sensitively done animation considers this idea with care and a deft lightness elevates each phrase:

“You will never find the right person.
Such a creature does not exist.
You are irredeemably alone.
You will not be understood.
The moments of love were an illusion.
There is something wrong with you
And with everyone else.
The idea of love distracts us from an existential loneliness.
Now let’s pretend we do not know any of this.”

“The less it is possible that something can be,
the more it must be.”

I’ve been sitting on this unbelievably gripping, humorous, and intellectually stimulating lecture by Robert Sapolsky for months now. I’m not sure why. My work life whisked me away, but, in watching this video again, it’s too good not to share.

Sapolsky is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists who explores “the biology of neurons” and how stress factors in to our social lives. He’s an incredible storyteller who makes sense of the human species by studying primates, particularly baboons. Using many examples from the wild, he debunks a series of commonly held assumptions that most people believe define human beings as being distinct, as being unique to our species: theory of mind, the Golden Rule, empathy, tit-for-tat, etc.

Despite all the universal behaviors we humans hold in common with other animals, Sapolsky says that humans have one trait that best defines and distinguishes us from other species: the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in our head, and yet continue on in the face of it.

Dr. Robert M. Sapolsky Speaks at StanfordDuring a staff meeting several months ago, I recommended that one of our associate producers do some research on Dr. Sapolsky as a potential interview with Krista. The feedback: Dr. Sapolsky was a good storyteller with great depth of experience, but there was concern that his atheism might be too strident and might not work for our program.

To me, it’s these types of voices that we want to include in our repertoire of shows. He’s a non-believer who embraces the paradox himself. He’s not just against religion or worshiping a deity. He lives an intellectual life that listens to these religious and philosophical voices and internalizes them. He takes them seriously and doesn’t dismiss them.

So, when I’m evaluating future guests, I’m looking for clues, for indicators that strike me as openness to ideas without personally accepting them as doctrine. So, even though Dr. Sapolsky declares himself strident in the lecture above, he makes a Niebuhrian statement like the one that heads the top of this page. And, shortly thereafter, posts a slide with a quotation from Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard:

“Christian faith requires that faith persists in the face of the impossible, and that humans have the capacity to simultaneously believe in two contradictory things.”

Sister Helen Prejean

And then he immediately cites the mercy-filled work of Sr. Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun, and quotes her:

“The less forgivable the act, the more it must be forgiven. The less loveble the person is, the more you must find the means to love them.”

What’s even more delightful is Sapolsky’s own ability and intellectual curiosity to live comfortably and reconcile his own positions and beliefs. He marvels:

“As a strident atheist, this strikes me as the most irrational, magnificent thing we are capable of as a species. … And this one does not come easily. On a certain level, the harder this is, this contradiction, to take the impossibility of something and to be the very proof that it must be possible and must become a moral imperative, the harder it is to do that, the more important it is.”

In the bottom photo, Sister Helen Prejean participates in a demonstration against the death penalty in Paris, France on July 2, 2007. (photo by Mehdi Fedouach/AFP/Getty Images).

warren at kennedy

BOSTON, MA – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered remarks today at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, as part of the Institute’s“Getting to the Point” speaker series. A PDF copy of the remarks is available here, and the full text is below, as prepared for delivery:

Senator Elizabeth Warren
Remarks at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate
September 27, 2015

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you. I’m grateful to be here at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. This place is a fitting tribute to our champion, Ted Kennedy. A man of courage, compassion, and commitment, who taught us what public service is all about. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss his passion, his enthusiasm, and – most of all – his dedication to all of our working families.

As the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, I have the great honor of sitting at Senator Kennedy’s desk – right over there. The original, back in Washington, is a little more dented and scratched, but it has something very special in the drawer. Ted Kennedy carved his name in it. When I sit at my desk, sometimes when I’m waiting to speak or to vote, I open the drawer and run my thumb across his name. It reminds me of the high expectations of the people of Massachusetts, and I try, every day, to live up to the legacy he left behind.

Senator Kennedy took office just over fifty years ago, in the midst of one of the great moral and political debates in American history – the debate over the Civil Rights Act. In his first speech on the floor of the Senate, just four months after his brother’s assassination, he stood up to support equal rights for all Americans. He ended that speech with a powerful personal message about what the civil rights struggle meant to the late President Kennedy:

His heart and soul are in this bill. If his life and death had a meaning, it was that we should not hate but love one another; we should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.

“We should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.” That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

A half-century ago, when Senator Kennedy spoke of the Civil Rights Act, entrenched, racist power did everything it could to sustain oppression of African-Americans, and violence was its first tool. Lynchings, terrorism, intimidation. The 16th Street Baptist Church. Medgar Evers. Emmett Till. When Alabama Governor George Wallace stood before the nation and declared during his 1963 inaugural address that he would defend “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,” he made clear that the state would stand with those who used violence.

But violence was not the only tool. African Americans were effectively stripped of citizenship when they were denied the right to vote. The tools varied-literacy tests, poll taxes, moral character tests, grandfather clauses-but the results were the same. They were denied basic rights of citizenship and the chance to participate in self-government.

The third tool of oppression was to deliberately deny millions of African Americans economic opportunities solely because of the color of their skin.

I have often spoken about how America built a great middle class. Coming out of the Great Depression, from the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up for most Americans. But there’s a dark underbelly to that story. While median family income in America was growing – for both white and African-American families – African-American incomes were only a fraction of white incomes. In the mid-1950s, the median income for African-American families was just a little more than half the income of white families.

And the problem went beyond just income. Look at housing: For most middle class families in America, buying a home is the number one way to build wealth. It’s a retirement plan-pay off the house and live on Social Security. An investment option-mortgage the house to start a business. It’s a way to help the kids get through college, a safety net if someone gets really sick, and, if all goes well and Grandma and Grandpa can hang on to the house until they die, it’s a way to give the next generation a boost-extra money to move the family up the ladder.

For much of the 20th Century, that’s how it worked for generation after generation of white Americans – but not black Americans. Entire legal structures were created to prevent African Americans from building economic security through home ownership. Legally-enforced segregation. Restrictive deeds. Redlining. Land contracts. Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class, but systematic discrimination kept most African-American families from being part of it.

State-sanctioned discrimination wasn’t limited to homeownership. The government enforced discrimination in public accommodations, discrimination in schools, discrimination in credit-it was a long and spiteful list.

Economic justice is not – and has never been – sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won’t stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won’t prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside. But when Dr. King led hundreds of thousands of people to march on Washington, he talked about an end to violence, access to voting AND economic opportunity. As Dr. King once wrote, “the inseparable twin of racial injustice was economic injustice.”

The tools of oppression were woven together, and the civil rights struggle was fought against that oppression wherever it was found – against violence, against the denial of voting rights, and against economic injustice.

The battles were bitter and sometimes deadly. Firehoses turned on peaceful protestors. Police officers setting their dogs to attack black students. Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

But the civil rights movement pushed this country in a new direction.

• The federal government cracked down on state-sponsored violence. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson all called out the National Guard, and, in doing so, declared that everyone had a right to equal protection under the law, guaranteed by the Constitution. Congress protected the rights of all citizens to vote with the Voting Rights Act.

• And economic opportunities opened up when Congress passed civil rights laws that protected equal access to employment, public accommodations, and housing.

In the same way that the tools of oppression were woven together, a package of civil rights laws came together to protect black people from violence, to ensure access to the ballot box, and to build economic opportunity. Or to say it another way, these laws made three powerful declarations: Black lives matter. Black citizens matter. Black families matter.

Fifty years later, we have made real progress toward creating the conditions of freedom-but we have not made ENOUGH progress.

Fifty years later, violence against African Americans has not disappeared. Consider law enforcement. The vast majority of police officers sign up so they can protect their communities. They are part of an honorable profession that takes risks every day to keep us safe. We know that. But we also know – and say – the names of those whose lives have been treated with callous indifference. Sandra Bland. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. We’ve seen sickening videos of unarmed, black Americans cut down by bullets, choked to death while gasping for air – their lives ended by those who are sworn to protect them. Peaceful, unarmed protestors have been beaten. Journalists have been jailed. And, in some cities, white vigilantes with weapons freely walk the streets. And it’s not just about law enforcement either. Just look to the terrorism this summer at Emanuel AME Church. We must be honest: Fifty years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared.

And what about voting rights? Two years ago, five conservative justices on the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates ever wider for measures designed to suppress minority voting. Today, the specific tools of oppression have changed-voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, and mass disfranchisement through a criminal justice system that disproportionately incarcerates black citizens. The tools have changed, but black voters are still deliberately cut out of the political process.

Violence. Voting. And what about economic injustice? Research shows that the legal changes in the civil rights era created new employment and housing opportunities. In the 1960s and the 1970s, African-American men and women began to close the wage gap with white workers, giving millions of black families hope that they might build real wealth.

But then, Republicans’ trickle-down economic theory arrived. Just as this country was taking the first steps toward economic justice, the Republicans pushed a theory that meant helping the richest people and the most powerful corporations get richer and more powerful. I’ll just do one statistic on this: From 1980 to 2012, GDP continued to rise, but how much of the income growth went to the 90% of America – everyone outside the top 10% – black, white, Latino? None. Zero. Nothing. 100% of all the new income produced in this country over the past 30 years has gone to the top ten percent.

Today, 90% of Americans see no real wage growth. For African-Americans, who were so far behind earlier in the 20th Century, this means that since the 1980s they have been hit particularly hard. In January of this year, African-American unemployment was 10.3% – more than twice the rate of white unemployment. And, after beginning to make progress during the civil rights era to close the wealth gap between black and white families, in the 1980s the wealth gap exploded, so that from 1984 to 2009, the wealth gap between black and white families tripled.

The 2008 housing collapse destroyed trillions in family wealth across the country, but the crash hit African-Americans like a punch in the gut. Because middle class black families’ wealth was disproportionately tied up in homeownership and not other forms of savings, these families were hit harder by the housing collapse. But they also got hit harder because of discriminatory lending practices-yes, discriminatory lending practices in the 21st Century. Recently several big banks and other mortgage lenders paid hundreds of millions in fines, admitting that they illegally steered black and Latino borrowers into more expensive mortgages than white borrowers who had similar credit. Tom Perez, who at the time was the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, called it a “racial surtax.” And it’s still happening – earlier this month, the National Fair Housing alliance filed a discrimination complaint against real estate agents in Mississippi after an investigation showed those agents consistently steering white buyers away from interracial neighborhoods and black buyers away from affluent ones. Another investigation showed similar results across our nation’s cities. Housing discrimination alive and well in 2015.

Violence, voting, economic justice.

We have made important strides forward. But we are not done yet. And now, it is our time.

I speak today with the full knowledge that I have not personally experienced and can never truly understand the fear, the oppression, and the pain that confronts African Americans every day. But none of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets.

Listen to the brave, powerful voices of today’s new generation of civil rights leaders. Incredible voices. Listen to them say: “If I die in police custody, know that I did not commit suicide.” Watch them march through the streets, “hands up don’t shoot” – not to incite a riot, but to fight for their lives. To fight for their lives.

This is the reality all of us must confront, as uncomfortable and ugly as that reality may be. It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter.

Once again, the task begins with safeguarding our communities from violence. We have made progress, but it is a tragedy when any American cannot trust those who have sworn to protect and serve. This pervasive and persistent distrust isn’t based on myths. It is grounded in the reality of unjustified violence.

Policing must become a truly community endeavor-not in just a few cities, but everywhere. Police forces should look like, and come from, the neighborhoods they serve. They should reach out to support and defend the community – working with people in neighborhoods before problems arise. All police forces-not just some-must be trained to de-escalate and to avoid the likelihood of violence. Body cameras can help us know what happens when someone is hurt.

We honor the bravery and sacrifice that our law enforcement officers show every day on the job – and the noble intentions of the vast majority of those who take up the difficult job of keeping us safe. But police are not occupying armies. This is America, not a war zone-and policing practices in all cities-not just some-need to reflect that.

Next, voting.

It’s time to call out the recent flurry of new state law restrictions for what they are: an all-out campaign by Republicans to take away the right to vote from poor and black and Latino American citizens who probably won’t vote for them. The push to restrict voting is nothing more than a naked grab to win elections that they can’t win if every citizen votes.

Two years ago the Supreme Court eviscerated critical parts of the Voting Rights Act. Congress could easily fix this, and Democrats in the Senate have called for restoration of voting rights. Now it is time for Republicans to step up to support a restoration of the Voting Rights Act-or to stand before the American people and explain why they have abandoned America’s most cherished liberty, the right to vote.

And while we’re at it, we need to update the rules around voting. Voting should be simple. Voter registration should be automatic. Get a driver’s license, get registered automatically. Nonviolent, law-abiding citizens should not lose the right to vote because of a prior conviction. Election Day should be a holiday, so no one has to choose between a paycheck and a vote. Early voting and vote by mail would give fast food and retail workers who don’t get holidays day off a chance to proudly cast their votes. The hidden discrimination that comes with purging voter rolls and short-staffing polling places must stop. The right to vote remains essential to protect all other rights, and no candidate for president or for any other elected office – Republican or Democrat – should be elected if they will not pledge to support full, meaningful voting rights.

Finally, economic justice. Our task will not be complete until we ensure that every family-regardless of race-has a fighting chance to build an economic future for themselves and their families. We need less talk and more action about reducing unemployment, ending wage stagnation and closing the income gap between white and nonwhite workers.

And one more issue, dear to my heart: It’s time to come down hard on predatory practices that allow financial institutions to systematically strip wealth out of communities of color. One of the ugly consequences of bank deregulation was that there was no cop on the beat when too many financial institutions figured out that they could make great money by tricking, trapping, and defrauding targeted families. Now we have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and we need to make sure it stays strong and independent so that it can do its job and make credit markets work for black families, Latino families, white families – all families.

Yes, there’s work to do.

Back in March, I met an elderly man at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. We were having coffee and donuts in the church basement before the service started. He told me that more than 50 years earlier — in May of 1961 — he had spent 11 hours in that same basement, along with hundreds of people, while a mob outside threatened to burn down the church because it was a sanctuary for civil rights workers. Dr. King called Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, desperately asking for help. The Attorney General promised to send the Army, but the closest military base was several hours away. So the members of the church and the civil rights workers waited in the sweltering basement, crowded together, listening to the mob outside and hoping the U.S. Army would arrive in time.

After the church service, I asked Congressman John Lewis about that night. He had been right there in that church back in 1961 while the mob gathered outside. He had been in the room during the calls to the Attorney General. I asked if he had been afraid that the Army wouldn’t make it in time. He said that he was “never, ever afraid. You come to that point where you lose all sense of fear.” And then he said something I’ll never forget. He said that his parents didn’t want him to get involved in civil rights. They didn’t want him to “cause trouble.” But he had done it anyway. He told me: “Sometimes it is important to cause necessary trouble.”

The first civil rights battles were hard fought. But they established that Black Lives Matter. That Black Citizens Matter. That Black Families Matter. Half a century later, we have made real progress, but we have not made ENOUGH progress. As Senator Kennedy said in his first floor speech, “This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, to be resolved through political means.” So it comes to us to continue the fight, to make, as John Lewis said, the “necessary trouble” until we can truly say that in America, every citizen enjoys the conditions of freedom.

Thank you.

"KLEZMERS ON THE MOON," 1995.  Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 in., (76,2 x 89,6 cm). Cat. Ref. #G-95.21.


The Milken Archive

A musical adventure of historic scope and proportion, the Milken Archive was founded in 1990 to document, preserve, and disseminate the vast body of music that pertains to the American Jewish experience. Over two decades, the Milken Archive has become the largest collection of American Jewish music ever assembled—more than 700 recorded works, including over 500 world premiere recordings. But the Milken Archive, known primarily up to now for its groundbreaking 50-CD series released on the Naxos label, is far more than a recording project. The Milken Archive’s collection consists of 800 hours of oral histories, 50,000 photographs and historical documents, and thousands of hours of video footage from recording sessions, interviews, and live performances, plus an extensive collection of program notes and essays—the vast majority written by Artistic Director Neil W. Levin, Professor of Music at the Jewish Theological Seminary and one of the foremost authorities on Jewish music—that provide historical and cultural context.

Audio Recordings

The musical recordings feature works by more than 200 composers, from Joseph Achron to John Zorn; multiple world-renowned artists, including Bruce Adler, Dave Brubeck, Amy Goldstein, David Krakauer, Elmar Oliveira, Sir Neville Marriner, Cantor Benzion Miller, Alberto Mizrahi, Gerard Schwarz, and Simon Spiro; and award-winning ensembles, such as the Julliard String Quartet, the Vienna Choir Boys, and the Czech Philharmonic. Much of the music in the Milken Archive was hitherto unknown to most audiences. In many cases, this music was either never recorded, or not recorded to acceptable standards, and thus in danger of being lost to future generations as both a historical record and an important expression of the American experience. The Milken Archive was founded by philanthropist Lowell Milken, who recognized not only the aesthetic merits of this music, but also its importance to current and future generations. Now entering its third decade, the Archive has become a leader in the preservation and dissemination of this diverse and substantial body of music more than 350 years in the making.

Heritage and Legacy

Though the Archive’s musical collection is voluminous, of equal importance are its collections of oral histories, interviews, photographs, and historical memorabilia, all of which lend historical depth and cultural context. Oral histories and interviews have been completed with senior cantors, veterans of the Yiddish theater, composers, conductors and others, thus preserving the knowledge, performance traditions, and stories of the individuals who brought, and continue to bring, this music to life. This unprecedented wealth of memories and first-person accounts will be a unique resource for students, scholars, documentary filmmakers, cultural historians, and anyone interested in American Jewish history.


The Milken Archive aims to:

  • preserve and disseminate music related to the American Jewish experience.
  • encourage the creation of the new music that speaks to the American Jewish experience.
  • encourage the performance of American Jewish music.
  • compile and publish historical documentation that illuminates the cultural, historical, political, social, and religious contexts in which American Jewish music has been, and continues to be, created.
  • develop educational platforms and curricula to facilitate the study of American Jewish music at secondary and university levels, as well as in adult and continuing education settings.
  • encourage academic research on the Milken Archive’s materials by scholars in a variety of disciplines, including ethnomusicology, history, Jewish studies, music, and musicology.

View Fewer Volumes     View All Volumes        Works            Albums

For centuries Jews residing on the Iberian Peninsula enjoyed a prolonged period of tolerant Islamic rule that enabled an efflorescence of Jewish culture. Sephardi Jews who were expelled from modern-day Spain and Portugal at the height of the Spanish Inquisition spread from Amsterdam and London to the far reaches of the old Ottoman Empire and beyond, absorbing and influencing the many musical traditions they encountered along the way.

Yet for many years, the rich tradition of Sephardi music remained largely unknown outside of the Sephardi community itself. That began to change in the 20th century when American composers began plumbing the depths of the Sephardi tradition for inspiration, looking not only to Sephardi melodies but also to the rich vein of Sephardi poetry that was created during the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry. Album 5 of the Milken Archive’s Volume 2—A Garden Eastward: Sephardi Inspiration—reveals the fruits of that endeavor with five vastly different musical recordings.

Jascha Heifetz—history’s greatest violinist according to many—makes his Milken Archive debut with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s second violin concerto, I profeti (The Prophets). Inspired by the biblical prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the biblical figure Elijah, the concerto reflects the composer’s interpretations of the related moods and tones of admonition, teaching, and prediction associated with these prophetic sources. Castelnuovo-Tedesco composed the piece expressly for Jascha Heifetz, who premiered it in 1933 at Carnegie Hall, with Arturo Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic.

Kantigas Ulvidadas, the second cycle of Ladino-based songs by Ofer Ben-Amots (hear a podcast with the composer himself), is a setting of three songs to contemporary Judeo-Spanish texts by Israeli poets Miriam Raymond and Shlomo Avayou. This stunning recording features soprano Jeanne Michèle Charbonnet, known in opera circles for her adeptness at Wagnerian roles, stepping into new territory, aided by pianist Deborah Ayers. In composing the cycle, Ben-Amots prized simplicity and directness over complexity, and uses the piano to emulate the folk style of instruments such as the guitar and oud. Ben-Amots discussed the piece at length with curator Jeff Janeczko in a podcast available on the Archive’s website.

Leo Kraft (1922–2014) made equally important musical contributions as a composer, educator, and author, and left behind a significant corpus of chamber works, songs, orchestral works, and choral compositions. Among the latter is his Eight Choral Songs for a cappella Chorus, which are settings of poems by Moses ibn Ezra, one of the most prolific of all the Spanish-Hebrew poets of the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry. The recording here is by Harold Rosenbaum and the New York Virtuoso Singers, the vocal ensemble that The New York Times critic Anthony Tomasini says has earned the right to include “virtuoso” in its name.

The album takes a sudden, unexpected, and delightful turn with the final three numbers by Cantor Aaron Bensoussan. These three settings of liturgical-biblical texts—Od yishama, Eshet ḥayil, and Al tira advi ya’akov—have been infused with Bensoussan’s Moroccan Sephardi heritage and a healthy dose of Middle Eastern disco. Rich with distinct flavors of North African and other Mediterranean Sephardi sounds, the use of regional instruments such as the bouzouki, darabouka, and oud, alongside modern electronic instruments and synthesized sound, constitute a unique contribution to both the Milken Archive and the world of Jewish music at large.

The rich musical heritage of Sephardi Jews comprises, among other things, a variety of approaches to liturgical music and a plethora of centuries-old poems and songs that plumb the depths of the human experience. For composers of art music, Sephardi musical traditions constitute a deep well of both inspiration and source material. One such composer who’s frequently drawn from that well is Ofer Ben-Amots. In this podcast, Ben-Amots discusses his most recent Ladino song cycle, Kantigas Ulvidadas (Forgotten Songs), which is available on a new recording from the Milken Archive. Interview by Jeff Janeczko.

All About Jewish Theatre
All About Jewish Theatre is the only global network dedicated to Jewish theatre and performing arts. Reaching 150,000 weekly visitors from more than 100 countries, this unique online resource presents a worldwide audience with the vital history and daily streaming of information on Jewish theatre and performing arts.
American Conference of Cantors
American Conference of Cantors is a professional organization of over 250 invested and/or certified cantors. Responsible for raising the professional standards of synagogue musicians, the ACC offers professional development opportunities for its members as well as continuing education programs in conjunction with the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s School of Sacred Music.
American Jewish Historical Society
The mission of the American Jewish Historical Society is to foster awareness and appreciation of the American Jewish heritage and to serve as a national scholarly resource for research through the collection, preservation and dissemination of materials relating to American Jewish history.
Brandeis University–Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies
Established in 1953, Brandeis University’s Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies is the oldest program of its kind in the United States with the largest instructional staff of any secular university outside the state of Israel.
The Choralnet Web site is a central portal to online resources and communications for the global choral music community.
Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive
Assembled by Alex Hartov, a professor at the Thayer School of Engineering, with a website designed for teaching and research by Lewis Glinert, Professor of Hebrew Studies at Dartmouth College, the Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive contains thousands of restored recordings of Yiddish theater, vaudeville, cantorial music, music by Jewish composers, and more.
David Krakauer Official Web Site
The official Web site of internationally acclaimed clarinetist David Krakauer, one of the world’s leading exponents of Eastern European Jewish klezmer music and a major voice in classical music. A best-selling recording artist in both classical and klezmer music, Krakauer performs as a guest soloist with some of the world’s finest ensembles and has made numerous recordings for the Milken Archive.
Foundation for Jewish Culture
Since 1960, the Foundation for Jewish Culture has been the leading advocate for Jewish cultural preservation and renewal in America. Founded by the Council of Jewish Federations, the foundation works with artists, scholars, cultural institutions and community agencies to enhance the quality of Jewish life in America through the arts and humanities.
Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation
The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation is a critically acclaimed, all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to sharing Jewish history through its rich legacy of music.
Jewish Community Centers Association of America
The vision of the JCC movement is to maximize the use of the programs and services, the position in the community, and the accessibility of the Jewish Community Center to welcome all Jews, to help each Jew move along a continuum of Jewish growth, and to build Jewish memories.
Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles
The Jewish Commission of Los Angeles explores Jewish identity through music, supports the composition of new Jewish music for the synagogue and concert stage, holds classes for composers to study Jewish music, and brings new Jewish music to synagogues and communities throughout the country.
Jewish Music Research Centre
One of the research centers of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the JMRC is an academic institution dedicated to the documentation, research, and publication of scholarly materials about Jewish music.
Jewish Music Web Center
The purpose of the Jewish Music Web Center is to provide an online forum for academic, organizational, and individual activities in Jewish music.
Judaica Sound Archives
The primary mission of the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries is to collect, preserve and digitize Judaica sound recordings; to create educational programs highlighting the contents of this rich cultural legacy; and to encourage the use of this unique scholarly resource by students, scholars and the general public.
Judith Zaimont Official Web Site
The official website of acclaimed composer Judith Lang Zaimont, recognized internationally for her distinctive style, characterized by its expressive strength and dynamism. A prize-winning composer whose work includes: symphony, chamber opera, oratorios and cantatas, music for wind ensemble, vocal-chamber pieces with varying accompanying ensembles, a wide variety of chamber works, and solo music for string and wind instruments, piano, organ, and voice. Zaimont’s self titled CD, Judith Lang Zaimont: A Tale of Abram and Isaac, was recorded for the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music and is distributed under the NAXOS label.
Manhattan School of Music
Set in one of the world’s greatest cities, Manhattan School of Music has contributed to the vibrant culture of New York City since 1917. It is one of the premier private music conservatories in the nation, with nearly 275 faculty members dedicated to shaping over 800 students from 40 countries into world-class musicians.
Maven Search
Maven Search is the leading directory and search engine for Jewish content related to Web sites.
Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture
Established in 2010, the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture is dedicated to studying and preserving Yiddish music and culture, teaching it to new generations, and supporting scholarship that explores it as an important facet of Jewish and American life. Its Executive Director is Henry Sapoznik, an award winning author, radio and record producer and performer of traditional Yiddish and American music.
Milken Family Foundation
The Milken Family Foundation was established by brothers Lowell and Michael Milken in 1982 with the mission to discover and advance inventive and effective ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives.
National Museum of American Jewish History
The National Museum of American Jewish History offers education, exhibits, and programs dedicated to preserving the history and culture of the Jewish people in America. The site offers virtual exhibits, a timeline, and an online shop.
Since its founding in 1987 by Klaus Heymann, Naxos has redefined how classical music is presented and marketed. Innovative strategies of recording exciting new repertoire with exceptional talent have enabled the label to develop one of the largest, fastest-growing catalogs of unduplicated repertoire available today: it currently includes more than 2,200 titles. Additional Naxos hallmarks are state-of-the-art sound and a determination to keep their CD prices approximately half that of other major commercial releases.
Rabbinical Council of America
The Rabbinical Council of America serves as a spokesman for the Orthodox rabbinate on the national and international level. It sponsors conferences and disseminates information on timely issues and defends the interests of the religious Jewish community.
Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility
An independent “think tank” of diverse ideas and conversations published online and in print to incubate issues of significance to the Jewish community conversation.
Society for Ethnomusicology
The Society for Ethnomusicology was founded in 1955 to promote research, study and performance of music in all historical periods and cultural contexts.
The Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum is not only a major art museum, but the largest Jewish museum in the Western hemisphere. The site includes collections, exhibitions and programs that illustrate both the continuity and diversity of Jewish culture for more than 4,000 years, as well as the common ground shared by Jews with people of different cultural backgrounds.
The Jewish Theological Seminary
The Jewish Theological Seminary was founded in 1886 as a rabbinical school. Its mission was to preserve the knowledge and practice of historical Judaism. One hundred and fifteen years later, JTS now includes a beautiful Manhattan campus and serves as the academic and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism worldwide. A Jewish university with a world-class faculty and a diverse student body, JTS grants undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees through its five schools: the Rabbinical School, the H.L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music, the Graduate School, the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education and the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies and offers serious enrichment programs for Jewish communities around the world. JTS trains tomorrow’s religious, educational, academic and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond. JTS is where Jewish learning lives.
The Juilliard School
Since opening in October 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art, The Juilliard School has set this country’s standard for education in the arts. The school continues to represent the finest in performing arts education, growing with and responding to the needs of a thriving cultural community in the U.S. and abroad, its student body drawn from 43 states and 46 foreign countries. 2002-2003 marks The Juilliard School’s ninety-seventh season.
The Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive
Part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Rare Book and Manuscript Library, this collection of songbooks, reference works and sound recordings total more than 3,000 Yiddish folk and art songs, theater music, comedy and klezmer music.
The Society for American Music
The Society for American Music was established to stimulate the appreciation, performance, creation and study of American music and its diversity, and the full range of activities and institutions associated with that music.
The YIVO Institute
The YIVO library and archives comprise the world’s largest collection of materials related to the history and culture of Eastern European and American Jewry.
Union for Reform Judaism
The Union for Reform Judaism provides vision, direction and leadership to Reform Jews and congregations on spiritual, ethical, social justice and management issues, offering programming support to Reform Jewish congregations and strengthening individual Jewish identity and growth. The Union and its affiliates produce award-winning periodicals, journals, books, discussion guides, CDs, sheet music, and downloadable MP3s.
Vocal Area Network
The Vocal Area Network is dedicated to the advancement of vocal ensemble music in New York City. Information-sharing services are offered for the benefit of the vocal ensemble community.
Women Cantors Network
The purposes of the Women Cantors Network are to support one another by sharing professional knowledge and experiences in a nurturing atmosphere, to provide continuing education in areas related to the cantorate and Jewish music, to serve as a forum for discussing practical issues for women in the cantorate and to commission Jewish music for women’s voices.
Zamir Choral Foundation
The Zamir Choral Foundation, founded and directed by Matthew Lazar, is the leading force in the Jewish world for sustaining and advancing the Jewish choral tradition. Through the teaching and performance of Jewish music, it aims to revitalize Jewish culture and commitment, and thereby strengthen and unite the Jewish people.

Leonard Nimoy on Naxos: American Jewish music available as podcast

Jay Gabler · Mar 3, 2015


There is something unique about St Brendan’s island, something I find very difficult to put into words, because I have no term of comparison. These Celtic Pilgrimages are filled with places of such spiritual strength that they can be overwhelming. About Iona, there is a saying that no pilgrim will ever come here just once. You will always return because you need to hear once more the things you’ve heard in your heart the first time. This is true of all the isles; in some ways, it is even stronger on the smaller, more secluded ones, precisely because of their very remoteness and silence.

Let me tell you a secret. Of all the amazing places we see during our pilgrimages, my heart aches for four in particular: St Brendan’s beehive cell; the hermit caves on St Kenneth’s Isle; St Columba’s Bay on Iona; and the Nuns’s Cave on Mull. It is revealing to me, as the leader of these pilgrimages, that people tend to wander alone here. After we pray together, each of us instinctively looks for solitude to pray alone. It is as if we all answer a personal silent call from the cliffs, the hills or the coast of the ocean.

There is something deeply unsettling about these sites, something that immediately throws you out of your spiritual comfort zone. The things we learn to avoid, the aspects of our faith we gradually learn to ignore somehow become the essential, central themes here. These are un compromising places, dangerous places for anyone except uncompromising characters of dangerous, uncompromising faith. I hope to tell you about all these places over time, but let’s start with few words about St Brendan’s cell.

The ‘data’ concerning the cell is itself impressive beyond belief. Dating back to the very early 500s, it is stunningly well-preserved. Fifteen centuries later, its unmistakably Irish character is perfectly obvious, building a direct link with St Brendan’s first monastic community. All the original monastics were Irish, and they built their first cells as they did in their own country. The beehive cell on St Brendan’s are identical with those you find on the Skellig Islands, for instance.

What makes this cell even more remarkable is that it is an extremely rare example of a double beehive cell. From what I know – please tell me if this is not true – the cell on St Brendan’s is the only example of a double beehive cell in Scotland. We don’t really know why the Christian Celts built these double cells, just as we don’t know why they are so rare. The most likely explanation is that they were intended for the use of the Abbot of the monastery, who would have needed the second space to hear the brothers’ confessions and to offer them private guidance.

It is a unique experience to kneel in this cell and to pray for St Brendan’s guidance. Just kneel down and ask him to accept you as one of his community, and to cover you with his protection after your return home; just ask for the unspeakable, ask with boldness, ask with the positive desperation of the one who feels lost but refuses to give up the fight. Hope against hope. ‘Christ beside me, Christ within me.’ – these words come from the heart of a tradition that knew this feeling very well.

Come with us. Come pray with us. Come and say these words here, in St Brendan’s cell.View to St Brendan's CellThe Cell on the Coast of the oceanBeehive Cell on St Brendan's IslePraying in St Brendan's CellLooking our from St Brendan's CellDouble Irish Beehive Cell

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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October 2015



On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory