Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Jewish composers of Christmas songs and Jerusalem Tunnel and Temple Mount

What is the point of being in Jerusalem if you can't go to the world's holiest place, the temple mount?  Enjoy this personal tour.


Masters of Self-Confidence

Masters of self-confidence have the ability to see and hear themselves being self-confident. Even if you don't yet consider yourself to be a master of self-confident, right now you too can choose to see and hear yourself being self-confident. It's up to you at any given moment.

Love Yehuda Lave

The Top 12 Christmas songs: The Jews behind the Christmas Songs
12. The Christmas Song
Written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells
Mel Torme was born to Russian Jewish parents. Bob Wells was born Robert Levinson.
The two were a well-known songwriting partnership.
This song was born in Toluca Lake, CA on a hot July day, When Torme arrived at Wells' house, he found a spiral note pad of paper with some words on it "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, Yuletide Carols being sung by a choir, folks dressed up like Eskimos."
Wells had wanted to write a song for a completely different season "to cool off." Torme recognized the potential in the lyric, and the rest of the song was written in 35 minutes.
11. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Written by Albert Hague
Hague was born as Albert Marcuse to a Jewish family in Berlin, Germany who considered their Jewish heritage a liability, and raised him as a Lutheran.
This was written and recorded for the 1966 Dr. Seuss TV Holiday Special How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Seuss wrote the lyrics and Albert Hague wrote the music.
10. Holly Jolly Christmas
Written by Johnny Marks
Though he was a Jew, Marks was also one of the most famous Christmas songwriters of all time. He appears on our list no less than THREE Times.
He was brought in for this project after impressing executives with the success of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
9. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
Written by Irving Berlin
Born Israel Isidore Beilin, Berlin was an American composer and
lyricist of Belarusian-Jewish origin.
This song was one of the numbers from the 1937 film musical On The
Avenue, to which Berlin contributed the majority of the music.
8. Winter Wonderland
Written by Felix Bernard
Born Felix William Bernhardt to a Jewish family in New York City,
Bernard was known for his great compositions.
This became one of the most popular holiday songs of all time.
7. Let It Snow!
Written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn
Born in London as Julius Kerwin Stein to Jewish immigrants from the
Ukraine, Styne was a famous American songwriter.
Cahn was born Samuel Cohen in NYC and became obsessed with music
shortly after his bar mitzvah.
Although this song is associated with Christmas, there is zero mention
of the holiday in the lyrics.
6. Silver Bells
Written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Livingston was born Jacob Harold Levison in Pennsylvania. Evans, also a
Jew, stepped away from all organized religion, including his religious
heritage, later in life.
This famous duo is also behind the classic standards and Academy Award
winning numbers, "Buttons and Bows" and "Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will
Be, Will Be)."
5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Written by Johnny Marks
Marks' second appearance on our list!
Let's start with the fact that Rudolph was originally named Rollo, or
The story of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in 1939 by
Robert L. May, a copywriter for the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward
department stores, as a promotional gift for customers. The stores had
bought and distributed coloring books every Christmas and saw writing
their own story as a way to save money.
Marks was May's brother in law, and after developing the lyrics and
melody for it, the song was first released in 1949, selling an
astonishing 2 million copies that year.
4. I'll Be Home For Christmas
Written by Walker Kent
Walter Kent was a famous Jewish composer.
This was originally recorded by Bing Crosby in 1943 and went on to
become a Christmas standard.
3. Santa Baby
Written by Joan Ellen Javits and Philip Springer
Joan Javits was the niece of US Senator Jacob Javits.
Originally released in 1953, this was one of the first Christmas
novelty songs.
2. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Written by Johnny Marks
And this is the third song by Marks on our list... We told you he was
known for his Christmas songs!
Originally released in 1958, it was not until 1960 that it really made
any noise on the charts.
1. White Christmas
Written by Irving Berlin
A good story
Rabbi Berel Wein was once invited to a meeting with the editor of the Detroit Free Press. After introductions had been made, the editor told him the following story.
Christmas tree
His mother, Mary, had immigrated to America from Ireland as an uneducated, 18-year-old peasant girl. She was hired as a domestic maid by an observant family. The head of the (house was the president of the neighboring Orthodox shul.
Mary knew nothing about Judaism and had probably never met a Jew before arriving in America. The family went on vacation Mary's first December in America, leaving Mary alone in the house. They were scheduled to return on the night of December 24, and Mary realized that there would be no Christmas tree to greet them when they did. This bothered her greatly, and using the money the family had left her, she went out and purchased not only a Christmas tree but all kinds of festive decorations to hang on the front of the house.
When the family returned from vacation, they saw the Christmas tree through the living room window and the rest of the house festooned with holiday lights. They assumed that they had somehow pulled into the wrong driveway and drove around the block. But alas, it was their address.
The head of the family entered the house contemplating how to explain the Christmas tree and lights to the members of the shul, most of whom walked right past his house on their way to shul. Meanwhile, Mary was eagerly anticipating the family's excitement when they realized that they would not be without a Christmas tree.
After entering the house, the head of the family called Mary into his study. He told her, "In my whole life no one has ever done such a beautiful thing for me as you did." Then he took out a $100 bill -- a very large sum in the middle of the Depression -- and gave it to her.
Only after that did he explain that Jews do not have Christmas trees.
When he had finished telling the story, the editor told Rabbi Wein, "And that is why, there has never been an editorial critical of Israel in the Detroit Free Press since I became editor, and never will be as long as I am the editor."
The shul president's reaction to Mary's mistake -- sympathy instead of anger -- was not because he dreamed that one day her son would the editor of a major metropolitan paper, and thus in a position to aid Israel. (Israel was not yet born.) He acted as he did because it was the right thing to do.
That's what it means to be a Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify God's Name. It is a goal to which we can all strive.

Longest water tunnel
The longest water tunnel ever discovered in Israel is being excavated in Jerusalem, near the train station in the southern part of the city. Both the tunnel and a stone column head at its opening, belonging to a state structure dating back to the kings of Judea, are considered proof that the tunnel digging was done during the First Temple period. Running 700 feet, the tunnel was discovered several weeks ago during an excursion organized by the Kfar Etzion Field School, according to a report Friday in the Israeli daily Ma'ariv. Yaron Rosenthal, who runs the school for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, said instructors chanced upon the tunnel just east of the security barrier which separates Israel from Palestinian population centers in Judea. Rosenthal estimated the structure predated 586 B.C. He said the tunnel is one of the longest tunnels in the Holy Land used to transport spring water. He said that markings, stairs and aesthetic relief carved into the stone suggested that the tunnel belonged to a Judaean king. "We entered a 15-foot shaft through a very narrow entrance and headed eastward underground," Rosenthal recalled. "We were amazed at the beauty of the structure we were in, whose corridor is built from huge slabs of more than a cubic yard. At the end of this construction, a simpler path begins and a neat staircase leads to that part." The tunnel's ceiling varies between five and nine feet and it is two to three feet wide, he said. The tunnel is within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, according to Ma'ariv. The Israel Antiquities Authority conducted preliminary checks in the region three years ago but decided not to excavate, according to Ma'ariv.

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