Americana Jam Band

AmericanaJamBandAmericana is a cholent – a rich stew – of diverse musical dialects and perspectives, including folk, bluegrass, country, soul, gospel, rock, and more.

Like the Jewish experience, though, Americana’s disparate elements work in unison to create an original sound and story that we recognize as specifically American.

Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Derailers, The Lone Bellow, and Son Volt – all of these artists and performers are on the same familiar road, searching for a way back home. We are their fellow travelers.

Congregation Beth Sholom invites you to experience the Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat!

It’s a folk-rock jam session with a Jewish soul, a casual prayer service with country swagger. If you like to sing and/or play an instrument (think piano, guitar, double bass, melodica, harmonica, or vibraphone), pull up a chair and join the jam on select Friday nights in 2017-18. Maybe you won't always play "in the pocket", but that’s not the point – it’s about our journey. Together, we’ll make music in a sacred space and create something new and meaningful as we mark the week’s end and the arrival of Shabbat.

Let's jam on Friday, April 27, 2018! The Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat service is free.

Americana Jam Band Returns!

AmericanaJamBandAmericana is a cholent – a rich stew – of diverse musical dialects and perspectives, including folk, bluegrass, country, soul, gospel, rock, and more.

Like the Jewish experience, though, Americana’s disparate elements work in unison to create an original sound and story that we recognize as specifically American.

Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Derailers, The Lone Bellow, and Son Volt – all of these artists and performers are on the same familiar road, searching for a way back home. We are their fellow travelers.

Congregation Beth Sholom invites you to experience the Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat!

It’s a folk-rock jam session with a Jewish soul, a casual prayer service with country swagger. If you like to sing and/or play an instrument (think piano, guitar, double bass, melodica, harmonica, or vibraphone), pull up a chair and join the jam on select Friday nights in 2017-18. Maybe you won't always play "in the pocket", but that’s not the point – it’s about our journey. Together, we’ll make music in a sacred space and create something new and meaningful as we mark the week’s end and the arrival of Shabbat.

Let's jam on Friday, March 23, 2018! The Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat service is free.

It's Americana Jam Band Time!

AmericanaJamBandAmericana is a cholent – a rich stew – of diverse musical dialects and perspectives, including folk, bluegrass, country, soul, gospel, rock, and more. Like the Jewish experience, though, Americana’s disparate elements work in unison to create an original sound and story that we recognize as specifically American. Woody Guthrie, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Derailers, The Lone Bellow, and Son Volt – all of these artists and performers are on the same familiar road, searching for a way back home. We are their fellow travelers.

Congregation Beth Sholom (CBS) invites you to experience the Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat! It’s a folk-rock jam session with a Jewish soul, a casual prayer service with country swagger. If you like to sing and/or play an instrument (think piano, guitar, double bass, melodica, harmonica, or vibraphone), pull up a chair and join the jam on select Friday nights in 2016-17. Maybe you won't always play "in the pocket", but that’s not the point – it’s about our journey. Together, we’ll make music in a sacred space and create something new and meaningful as we mark the week’s end and the arrival of Shabbat.

Let's jam on Friday, May 26, at 6:30 p.m.! The Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat service is free, but pre-registration is required – please take a quick minute to sign up below.

Mark your calendar for all of the Americana Jam Band Kabbalat Shabbat dates:
October 28, November 25, January 27, February 24, March 24, April 28, May 26, June 23, July 28, August 25

Tisha B'Av

"Goin’ to leave this Broke-down Palace
On my hands and my knees I will roll roll roll
Make myself a bed by the waterside
In my time - in my time - I will roll roll roll.
"

Why bother fasting on Tisha B’Av?

Broke-down Palace was first performed here, in San Francisco, on August 18, 1970, at the Fillmore West, appearing in the number six spot in the first (acoustic) set.

There is a moving anecdote about Broke-down Palace involving the American novelist and Merry Prankster, Ken Kesey. Kesey was renowned for appearing somewhat confused and disjointed, mixed in with his moments of genius, particularly as he reflected upon the death of his son. Kesey’s son died in a tragic accident, when the high school wrestling team's van drove off a cliff during a snow storm. Not long after his son's death, Kesey was invited to see the Grateful Dead play a gig somewhere on the West Coast. During the second set, the whole band turned to him and began playing Broke-down Palace. With tears in his eyes, Kesey later explained that it wasn't until that moment that he really understood the truly transcendent purpose of art, as he put it: "All my life I thought art was this [he stuck a fist in the air]. But at that moment I realized that art was really this [he made a hugging motion]."

So I ask again, why bother fasting on Tisha B’Av?

Many progressives with utopian aspirations feel that there is no longer any reason to fast. After all, who really wants to rebuild another "Broke-down Palace"? And of course, there is the modern State of Israel.

But think again! Expand your spiritual horizons and join us this coming Saturday evening at CBS, starting at 7:45 p.m., for reflection and meditation in Makom Shalom with Makor Or as we prepare the heart to enter into the sacred theater of Lamentations, which we will read at 8:50 p.m.

The Book of Lamentations itself is a singular work of genius in the Hebrew Bible. While it appears to be a standard template from the genre of Near Eastern laments, or kinnot, precious little of the focus is actually on the Temple cult itself. Here’s the rub — Tisha B’av and Lamentations beckon us to be present in our spiritual lives to degradation, poverty, homelessness, shame, anger, and rupture from God. And to top it off, there is the unmitigated audacity of the Sages (of blessed memory) in Pesikta de-Rav Kahana (20:5), who suggested but a few hundred years after the Second Temple’s destruction that the possibility of rebirth and creativity actually emerges from the ashes of destruction! The birthday of the Messiah is also purported to take place on Tisha B’Av! And then there is the fact that "Jewish Sadie Hawkins Day" is six days later — aka Tu B’Av! And how do we reconcile the teaching of Rabbi Aha in the name of Rabbi Yohanan who suggests that Israel "produced many more righteous people in its destruction than when it was built up"?

Tisha B'Av is a time for us to look deeper inside our hearts, acknowledge the brokenness, and to sing along with the Montreal bard:

"There is a crack, a crack in everything—that’s how the light gets in!"

Only after you have experienced the catastrophe can the song then be sung:

"In my time - in my time - I will roll roll roll..."

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Beshalach -- Exodus 13:17-17:16

CoverDesign3_PartingSeaAmerican music legend Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995), best known for his lead guitar work, singing, and songwriting with the Grateful Dead, remarked in a 1989 Rolling Stone interview:

Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.

So how does a reasonable person react when facing “the lesser of two evils” or “an offer you can’t refuse”?

This week, we turn to the Israelites who are feeling quite constricted, trapped as they are “between a rock and a hard place” — between Pharaoh’s armies rapidly approaching from behind and the ominous Reed Sea ahead of them. How will they respond to being “between the devil and the deep blue sea”?

Moses receives the divine command to raise his staff over the water so that the waters of the sea split, relieving the Israelites of their predicament by allowing them safe passage. This opening quickly turns into a dead end for the Egyptian armies pursuing them. Moses, Miriam, and the Children of Israel then erupt into redemption songs.

Now in the desert, the challenges continue to mount. The Israelites suffer from thirst and hunger, and complain to their new leaders, Moses and Aaron. Their thirst is slaked when the bitter waters of Marah are sweetened. Moses also brings forth water from a rock by striking it with his staff, and causes manna to rain down each morning along with quails each evening. The Israelites gather a double portion of manna on Fridays, since none will fall from the sky on the divinely decreed day of rest known as the Sabbath. Aaron even jars a morsel of manna as testimony for future generations.

The trials continue as the Israelites are attacked by the tribe of Amalek, who is ultimately defeated by Moses and Joshua. It is noteworthy that Moses uses the spiritual power of prayer, whereas Joshua uses the political power of armed forces.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Image credit: CBS will soon launch a new Shabbat pamphlet that will feature original cover art inspired by mid-20th century graphic design. The artwork that accompanies this post is an abstract representation of the parting of the Reed Sea. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.