For Hava Nashira at Twenty-Five
I remember my first time
nineteen ninety six
In the lodge, Danny Maseng
explaining about how one’s voice
should float out on the air from your mouth
I think I melted into the floor.
A few minutes later a Debbie Friedman walks by
and with one word, yallah, we were on our way.
That was the year Jerry Kaye announced
Hava Nashira would always be a fifty person program.
Little did we know he meant multiples of fifty.
They say we are running out of letters to identify
groups of people. X and Y both gone. I say
They haven’t discovered the Hebrew Alphabet yet
where generation Hey, Hava Nashira, is proudly
doing the work. We’re a generation of people who know
how little water we need to brush our teeth.
The many uses of conditioner.
How exactly un-allowed it is to be in the lake.
These are things, after twenty five years
we know like we know the melody sang to us in the womb.
So much has happened in this room
which used to be a dining hall, which used to be a forest,
which used to be an original spark of creation.
Do you remember the time the electricity was out?
Debbie Friedman sang Yotzer Ohr and the lights
came right back on. This is the stuff of legends.
This is the magic of this place.
Some of us met out b’sherets here.
Some of us bring our b’sherets here.
We are all b’sheret here. On paper they say
it’s about the music and the instruction but
we have always known it’s about the people.
It is difficult to have a congregation
that only meets once a year. It is difficult to be in
the room when some friends are not in the room.
The ones who had to stay, this time, in other parts of the earth.
The ones who are forever in the earth.
I stand by the cry for Kibbutz Hava Nashira.
Perhaps that is our world yet to come.
In the mean time we take each others words and notes.
The little lines and dots on the paper as our angel called them.
We work like holy ambassadors to bring a smidgen of
this sense of how people should be, back to our towns.
I say let’s travel old school, in packs of fifty, bringing
pockets of this with us until music becomes a component
of the very air we breathe in all our non-Oconomowocian places.
So here’s to the next twenty five. I expect to see you all here.
Your souls floating out on top of your breath.
I know I’ll be here. I never really leave.
And welcome to generation hey.
The generation that chooses song.
Habocher Shirei Zimra.