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Niggunim

01/30/2019 01:25:19 PM

Jan30

Rabbi Daniel Dorsch

“Dan,” called Amy on Sunday. “I can’t believe your son! He’s unbelievable.”
 
After an exhilarating evening of Yiddish music on Marietta Square (words that I am confident no one thought would ever be uttered until Etz Chaim finally did it) with our Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Hankus Netsky, Dr. Netsky worked with our Religious School students on Sunday. He taught them niggunim, melodies without words, as well as a few Yiddish tunes. Zev came home with one of the niggunim in his head to share with Amy.
 
“Mommy, he said. I want to share with you a niggun I learned in school. It’s one that Zaida Harry used to sing to you.”
 
Harry is Amy’s grandfather who immigrated to Canada from the old country as a teenager. He died before Amy and I met, so Zev and I only know him through pictures and stories. He was not particularly religious; he spoke Yiddish, learned English, but never learned to write either. He worked as a used car salesman for most of his life and used to stash his cash in coffee cans under the mattress. There are a multitude of comical stories about his somewhat unusual eating habits. Our daughter Haley is named for him.
 
At first, Amy thought that Zev was being cute. Then, Zev began to sing the niggun: and it was indeed the very same melody Amy’s Zaida had sung for her as a little girl, as promised.
 
God is really, really, funny. However, I’m also fond of quoting the Hebrew folk writer, Yaakov Cohen, who once wrote that while “the days change and the seasons pass, that a melody endures forever.”
 
After this story, I think I finally understand what that line really means.
Wed, July 17 2019 14 Tammuz 5779