I attended a really exciting and phenomenal event last night in my community. Ten years ago, the Rabbi at our Temple, Rabbi Samuel Cohon, started a radio show that broadcasts weekly. The show is called “Too Jewish” as all the content of the show is Jewish covering everything from Torah portions to Jewish politics to interviews with local and international celebrities. I am particularly fond of the “Jewish joke of the week,” and I understand from last night that there have been over 500 told…last night’s included.
A Jewish man is waiting in line to be knighted by the queen. As he approaches the queen, he remembers there is a Latin phrase that he must say to her as he is being dubbed. He cannot recall what he is supposed to say. When it is finally his turn, he says the very first thing that comes to his mind. “Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol halailot.” Not understanding Hebrew, the queen inquires and learns that he has just said “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
The evening was a live Broadcast with performances by Temple Emanu-el’s Avanim rock band, local folk-pop group Boreas and a local men’s choir called The Sons of Orpheus. There were interviews with Tucson mayor and past Temple president Jonathan Rothchild, University of Arizona Judaic Studies and long-time Too Jewish contributor Tom Price, author Amy Hirshberg Lederman, and Congressman Ron Barber.
During the evening, the Rabbi poignantly asked Congressman Barber about the actions of Congress and gun control. Barber explained that “Newtown was a tipping point and with it came a dramatic shift in opinion.” Congressman Barber is affiliated with two groups in Tucson: a mental health task force and acting as the vice chair on gun violence prevention. He believes that 4 things need to happen in our society:
1. There needs to be early intervention and treatment on mental illness
2. Universal background check with guns
3. We need to identify buyers of guns and gun trafficking
4. We need to reduce the size of high-capacity magazines
He went on to explain that 33 bullets were shot in 19.6 seconds on January 8, 2011 killing 6 people and wounding 19.
Local Orthodox Rabbi “Billy” Lefkowitz, told a wonderful story about a father with a precious ruby that he would hold close to his heart explaining that life is precious and you should live it with kindness and truth. In his old age, he had three rubies cut and polished identically and gave one to each of his three sons. When he passed on, the sons each believed that they had their father’s only ruby. Wanting to know who had the real authentic ruby, they went to an appraiser. The appraiser told them that the real ruby is the one that is held close to your heart as you live your life with kindness and truth just as their father had done.
Another highlight of the evening was when Roni Keidar, founder of Other Voice, a non-partisan grassroots group of diverse citizens from the Sderot region and Gaza region who are interested in finding a civil solution with non-violent actions for the benefit of the local residents, spoke alongside with local Isareli shaliach, Guy Gelbart. Keidar spoke about how “Israel is here to stay” and rather than retaliating with bombs, she has gathered people together to communicate. She does so through emails and internet and cell phones. Gelbert, when asked what he would like to bring back to Israel from the Tucson Jewish community, described the feeling of unity that he witnessed just prior in the evening when an Orthodox Rabbi and a Reform Rabbi stood on a stage hugging each other. He would like to bring back the feelings of “togetherness” that we have created in the Tucson Jewish community.
The headliner of the evening was comedian Robert Klein. He had the audience laughing out loud with his humor, and my personal favorite was his opening song, “A Colonoscopy.” Click HERE to go to Youtube to see a 2009 performance of the song. I promise you….it’ll give you some good chuckles, so check it out!
Finally, the evening culminated with what I thought was the performance of the night. The local Tucson men’s choir, Sons of Orpheus, was tight! Wow! Those voices were like voices from the angels come down from heaven. They performed the famous work, ” The Exodus Song” by Wojciech Kilar. Click HERE to go to Youtube to hear them perform the song at the 2008 Leipzig International choral Festival.
It was a really great night in Tucson at the Fox Theatre last night. When I lived in Los Angeles, I often attended evenings of this calibre, and the Top Jewish anniversary broadcast lived up to the same top standard. I leave you all with a few photos from an unforgettable evening and look forward to the next time something this special comes around in my town.