Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Jewish Angle to Bob Dylan

My favorite memory of my father was created at my sister's Bat Mitzvah. At the Friday-night dinner before the Saturday service, his intentions unbeknownst to anyone, my father rose and announced that although he was very proud of my sister and pleased to see us all there celebrating, he didn't want to make a speech. He wanted to sing a song instead — "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan. It was a song Dylan wrote for his children, my father said, based on the traditional blessing bestowed by Jewish fathers on their children every Friday night. He sang it, beginning to end, without accompaniment standing alone in the middle of the synagogue social hall in front of all his friends and extended family. May God bless and keep you always/May your wishes all come true/May you always do for others/And let others do for you.

My father has a tuneful voice, but he had started on too high a pitch, and his voice cracked a bit with strain and emotion on the highest notes. Keeping the rhythm, he flexed his knee awkwardly back and forth and drummed on the table gently with his fingers. My sister blushed furiously, as did many others. It's not easy to be in presence of such pure, silly, unadulterated love. We aren't used to it. We don't know how to act. We don't know what to say.

Which is why, as my dad knows so well, it's sometimes best to let Dylan do the talking.

Found here. Written by Rachel Shukert, a playwright, performer and author who has been published in,, HEEB and Critical Moment.

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