. . . Because Kaddish is Rock ‘n Roll
December 19, 2012
I have been a fan of Kirtan since the late nineties. Growing up on the East Coast and being an avid adherent of the DIY hardcore punk music scene I was first introduced to the style via records from Khrishnacore punk acts such as Shelter, 108, and Run Devil Run. The crossover between Kirtan and punk in the Mid-Atlantic region quickly led to impromptu side walk Kirtans outside of all ages shows and frequent drives to New Vrindaban in the northern panhandle of West Virginia.
A fan of Reb Drew A.K.A, Kirtan Rabbi from the moment I first heard his music at PunkTorah’s online synagogue OneShul, I often wind down from a stressful day listening to his collected output: Live, Achat Sha’alti (one thing I seek), and Havayah, but recorded Kirtan and live Kirtan are two completely different animals. Recorded Kirtan is great chill out and relax music. Live it is a lot like punk rock, it is a completely participatory act that starts as a fire under your tuchas and quickly grows to engulf your entire being with spiritual fire.
As Reb Drew led the congregation at Beth Shalom through the call and response of Jewish Kirtan the vibratory meditation he and his accompanying musicians and chanters produced soothed my frazzled nerves, and after a few minutes I was foot tapping, hand clapping, head bobbing, and chanting along with both the call and the response. This is the essence of Kirtan. Kirtan is a musical form of meditation designed to clear your being of pressure and burden while focusing on prayer and devotion.
For me the highlight of the evening was his talk regarding the Mourner’s Kaddish and how his unique uplifting version came about. Its all about the reverse bucket list, you know the list you have of things you have actually accomplished in this world not the things you hope to someday do. As a chronic sufferer of Jew-rosis Kaddish normally depresses me but thanks Reb Drew I know view those in my life who have entered the world to come, and whom I miss, as not gone but as combined positive moments in my life.
As much as I would like to provide a chant by chant record highlighting the smiles, the dancing, and the laughter during this very special Hanukah Kirtan no description can ever truly give justice to the experience of live Jewish Kirtan. If you have no clue who or what I am talking about check out Reb Drew at kirtanrabbi.com, and if you are in a position to bring Reb Drew to your community or are in driving distance of his next appearance go and just don’t do it, chant it!