Tuesday, January 01, 2008

music and practice: a review

My latest article is in, and in the thirty seconds between getting paid and seeing the money disappear into much-needed practical things, look what I found!

Oooh, ooh, ooh.

It's a good thing that I don't really have enough time on my hands to e-browse, let alone e-shop (or, alas, enough time to really e-blog) because our budget just couldn't take it. Still. Check out the tent by Haba - I love the Haba approach to children's toys, their colors and materials and shapes, and the tent is a winner. Unless, of course, you don't have over $100 to spend on such a thing, in which case you might try the Imperfect approach: buy a few yards of gauzy, lightweight stuff at your local discount fabric store, cut it up and get a friend to serge the edges, and drape that over things. Voila! tent. Or, redrape and voila! a cape. Or voila! a ballgown for the local Cinderella. You should, of course, explain that Cinderellas have to wash floors before they become princessly. Me, I have a nice, dirty floor you can use for the purpose.

And even so, oooh oooh oooh.

Before the Chanuka shopping fest started, my children were deep in a compare-and-contrast also known as the Battle of the Jewcapella CDs. We have a certain fondness for a capella music (known to the Toddles as 'rockapella music!' for the first a'capella group he heard, Rockapella . One trip to Canada later, the boys were imitating the percussion in BOJAC, a.k.a. the best of Jewish a capella. The Toddles became firmly attached to 'Peanut Butter Shalom' (also known as Hiney Ba Ha-Shalom - wikipedia, where art thou?), and the Eldest was fascinated by Beat'achon's competitive singing in their L'cha Dodi.. Zina's other half laughed over 'Good Night Sweetheart,' yiddishe style. All good.

There's a particular void being filled here, as it happens. The Eldest, as an attendee of a Jewish school and as a happy shul-goer, gets a range of the sights and sounds of Judiasm outside of the house. The Toddles, as an attendee of Mummy-school, and as a non-shul goer (consider what children snack on. Now, shudder with me), has not this advantage. And yes, he sees the Eldest and the man wearing kippot (keeping kosher is invisible to him - he's too young to understand the choices being made in his feeding), and yes, I sing parts of the davening (services) on friday nights and shabbat or yom tov (holiday) mornings with him, but he hasn't got an awareness that singing these songs, or doing those things can be a communal, or group affair. His Judaism is in a bubble, and Judaism - as we practice it - is a tripartite business: personal, familial and communal. So a CD of this sort is great, as is the little book of Jewish holidays that we have (etc, etc, etc), to help crack the Toddles' world a little farther open.

I say this and worry about it, but when asked to show what makes shabbat special, I must admit that the Eldest drew a set table, lit candles and his family eating "yummy fish, rice, rice bread and salad." So maybe I shouldn't be so quick to discount the in-home aspects. Still.

Regardless, encouraged (and facing a long drive to Super Happy Fun Camp), we branched out to this.

Listening, immediately it is clear that you've wandered into a different corner of Yiddishkeit. Instead of 'shabbat,' you have the more yiddish-style 'shabbos.' Anglo or modern Hebraic-crisp 'o' sounds are now more yiddish 'oy's, and there's a greater tendency to inject soulful whining into the melody. (We were especially fascinated by the greater tendency for the singers to use nasal tones, and couldn't quite figure out why.) Still, the recording has some gems.

Beat'achon's Kah Ribon was a favorite, and "fun! I like dis!" said the Toddles of Kol Zimra's rendition of blue fringe's Vayivarech. The Eldest was taken with the strong beat of Jordan & Adam's Uray Vanim, and I grew fond of the two versions of Havdalah by Noah Solomon & Sean Altman.

Still, 'it's boychicks in the hood,' said the Man dismissively, and walked off humming Yehuda!'s Aishes Chayil.

Mama's Humming in the Kitchen: a fish in three parts
This super-quick, sweet and tangy fish was a huge hit with my boys, even during a grumpy dinnertime. Serves 3.

3 fillets tilapia or other mild, white-fleshed fish
.25 cup cherry jam (warning: most jams have corn in there somewhere! Look for added sugars, citric acid, etc. I stock up on jams during Pesach, but some of the pricier jams are pure fruit.)
2 Tb ginger jam (see above warning)
1 tsp vegetable oil

Spray a baking pan, and set the oven to 350F.

Lay fillets in the pan. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients, then spread on top of fish. Bake until white in center and gently flaking - about 6-8 minutes.

Optional: our jam had whole, pitted cherries in it, and they were soft and delicious. You could try soaking dried cherries in hot water for 5 minutes, then adding them to the jam mixture for a similar effect.
Haven't got cherry jam? Try pomegranate jam - you are balancing the spark of the ginger jam with a sweet, full bodied flavor, so avoid the acidity of raspberry or strawberry, and try something else. Another option is to use a sweet marmalade, and have a ginger orange fish. If you do that, consider adding orange slices to the fish before cooking!


joy said...

I wrote a whole response to this and the blogish ate it. In short, I think I need to know more about this, perhaps a playlist to hunt, or perhaps something for iTunes to nibble on? In your copious free time of course. :)

mama o' the matrices said...

I suppose the first question would be this: are you an a capella person? If so, you can try following this link to BOJAC (http://www.a-cappella.com/product/10434/jewish) and listen to their samples.

To elaborate, there's a spectrum of Jewish (note, I'm not including Israeli pop music here) music. There's the really simple stuff, like the Hebrew version of 'I Had a Little Dreidel,' simple bits of litrugy that you sing to kids, all the way to cantors singing elaborate liturgy on recordings. Our two CDs are in the middle of the spectrum - more complicated, lengthy lyrics than 'Zum Gali, Gali' but less elaborate ornamental stuff than the cantors.

I'll see if I can dig up some links to simpler Hebrew stuff for you - in the meantime, try the links in the post for samples.

Zina said...

I *must* try that recipe. I don't know if I can find the right jam though.

Remind me NOT to share my shopping links with you. The Man would probably have a fit. A lady once described these beautiful toys as "million dollar simple" - and that seems to sum it up.

I love Oompa Toys!