Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Yarnarian Has One More Rant! (well I warned your, didn't I?)

OK, not really a rant. More of a ridiculous blather.

Warning: This has no religious content whatsoever! We're talking foolishness here.

So here's the deal about Christmas from my Jewish standpoint! I love Christmas, especially since I get to enjoy it all, and not have any of the work.

But how come you Christians get all the pretty stuff at this holiday? You get lights, trees, candles in windows, wreaths, carols. If it's beautiful, you have it. We Jews get this little menorah, a bunch of candles, that idiot game of dreidel. For the non-cognoscenti, a dreidel is a top and you spin it and get pennies or M&Ms or other junk. This is one very dopey game, and no matter what the rabbi says, it is dumb, dumb, dumb. Where did we go wrong? We have wonderful holidays, and crappy songs.

Yup, here I go on Christmas carols. I love them; I adore them; I'm already singing Adeste Fidelis, in Latin no less. When I was in elementary school, there was no such thing as everyone sharing his or her religious experiences. We were not PC in those ancient days of the '50s. So that meant that from Thanksgiving on, every kid in this little elementary school made Christmas decorations, read Christmas stories, and caroled in the halls. And here I am, this little Jewish kid, and I'm doing all this stuff for a holiday that I don't celebrate. And not just me. About a quarter of the kids in my class were Jewish, all children of people lucky enough to be in this country during the Holocaust. And all the parents born on the other side, I might add.

So I happily made stained glass windows and sang Christmas carols. OK, time goes by and now I'm in high school and we're still caroling in the halls. In Latin of course and French and German and Spanish. Not one little "Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel" do we sing. And to tell the truth, that is one silly song. So I didn't miss singing it. And who in holy hell knew how to sing Maoz Tsur (Hebrew, boys and girls. Rock of Ages) in Hebrew except for the Jewish kids and we were outnumbered.

Now, you're wondering where this blather is going. Well, at some point, I started to feel guilty singing songs of another faith. Why I should feel guilty is beyond me, but I do.

Here's the deal: I don't want the decorating and presents trappings. They're yours. You should live and be well and enjoy them and kvetch every year about keeping the candles in the windows lit, and have the annual debate over fresh vs. fake trees, etc. Me, I'll admire everything about the holiday, and revel in the fact that I don't have to do the work. But I want Jewish carols!

We Jews know how to compose music. Mendlessohn, the Strauss family converted, Irving Berlin, Mahler, Gershwin, Lenny Bernstein, etc. So why can't we come up with Jewish carols? We could sing them for Passover! Now that would be really neat.

And now I'm officially done with my annual rant. Whew, you say. Relief. She's finally off her toot. Don't worry, I have a few good Passover ones ready to go, but that's not until April, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief now that I'm finally done.

KV - Yeah, it sufficeth (try saying that and/or writing it 10 times!) What will you do without my rants, huh? Your life will be lonely and loaded with vrittis and then what will you do? There's nothing to kvetch about for the next 4 months except for the econmy and the world going downhill and the horrible murder bombers. I refuse to call them suicide bombers; they are murderers and no whitewashing of the name will do. See, another rant.

Skepweaver - I'm fond of Figgy Pudding. It makes not much sense to me, but it sort of rolls along.

Jo - You ain't lived until you've been in a synagogue where every guy is praying in his own speed and volume. True cacophony, and nothing even remotely melodious about it, but then the guys could care less; they're praying and that's that. I grew up with this, and it's awesome to see these guys with their tallit (prayer shawls, the original prayer shawls) over their heads blocking out the world around them and praying with such fervor. But, she asks in a very tiny voice, could we have just one tiny little itsy bitsy Jewish carol, where everyone sings in unison.

Sharon - Tomorrow we're going to see a truncated version of the Messiah; they leave out all the boring stuff.

Susan - "Hannukah has probably just not had the catchiest librrettist and musician focused on that." You noticed that too. giggle. The trouble is that our music is an integral part of the service, and how do you make a classic out of Adon Olam? I love Adon Olam, but it is just not a carol. Kvetch, complain, kvetch some more.


kv said...


Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

You think you had it bad? C'mon Ruth you haven't suffered until you've been brought up in a country totally RC, and wondered why in all the (English)books you read they seemed to have such jolly hymns and festivals.

I still think the Church of England has far better hymns - and for an Irishwoman to say that is asking to be burned at the stake!

I want Harvest Home! I want 'We plough the fields and scatter'. Most especially do I want 'Rock of Ages' and 'Abide With Me.'

(will someone please give me the words of Gladly The Cross-Eyed Bear? Already I love that visually challenged ursus)

Anonymous said...

There's always the Figgy Pudding one. You can have that one...


Sharon said...

You remind me of a lady I used to know. She loved Christian carols and church music. So this nice little Jewish lady sang in a big church choir. They did all the complicated fancy, classical stuff and she was thrilled. When Christmas season came up and they did the Messiah, she was right there. Years later I met another lady who did much the same thing. It used to tickle me but, hey, even a little heathen like me does find something soaring in a lot of that music.

Personally, one of my favorite carols is "Deck the Halls' it is a nice non-religious carol, suitable for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Last Clhristmas I attended a very excellent community chorus program which had 2 Jewish songs. I think the problem is that Hannukah has probably just not had the catchiest librrettist and musician focused on that.

Jews need another "Fiddler on the Roof" musical with seasonal music. Then Christians and other religious groups would sing those "carols". How about a Jewish equivalent of "White Christmas"? Do contemporary Israelis plan to plug this hole?

Your rant is meritorious. This world needs more music. Your blog is very nice.

susan93940 on Ravelry

Michele said...

Ruth, my grandmother's favorite song was the "little drummer boy"! Just imagine my smaller than 5 foot tall 90 year old grandmother singing, tahrumpatumtum...
I grew up in a very Catholic town, and was into girl scouts. At Christmastime they went caroling in the neighborhood and didn't want to let me go along because I was Jewish! Well! My mother really went to bat for me, and you'd better believe I went caroling for years! I'm embarrassed to shop in the malls during this season, because there I am with my long skirt, long sleeves and sheitel/wig, singing along to all of the carols! Oh well, it's that time of the year, it just catches you and there you are humming along....
By the way, have you ever listened to any current Jewish acapella music like Beatachon, or these 3 Israeli brothers in Kol Achai? They're great!


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