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Friday, February 7, 2014

"Close Your Eyes and I'll Kiss You..."

Dear Friends and Family:

In 1964 I was a senior in High school when I sat on the floor at my cousin Judy's house and watched the Ed Sullivan Show.  I also became an instant Fab Four fan.  Below is an article written by my friend and colleague Rabbi Jon Adland.  I couldn't say it better and I'm happy to share it with you.  

Pirke Avot 1:2— Shimon the Righteous was one of the last survivors of the Great Assembly.  He used to say: On three things the world is sustained: on the Torah, on the (Temple) service, and on deeds of loving kindness.

February 7, 20147 Adar 1 5774Shabbat T’tzaveh Exodus 27:20-30:10

Dear Friends,

  “Ladies and gentlemen—The Beatles!”  On Sunday evening February 9, 1964, Ed Sullivan uttered those immortal words and my life changed.  I had actually heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” a month or so earlier before that historic night.  I was riding in the back of my then best friend Bobby Bredhoff’s mother’s white Oldsmobile.  We got into the car, Bobby in the front seat and me in the back, and Bobby turned on the radio.  Within seconds he said, “You've got to hear this,” as the DJ announced the new hit song that was taking America by storm.  The guitar chords started to play and I was hooked on rock n roll and The Beatles.

 Unlike Pete Seeger, who I wrote about last week, The Beatles didn't push me to march or protest against the ills of the world.  Their music wasn't always easy to dance to like the Motown sound that we heard soon after.  But their sound was fresh and crisp.  The words were easy to sing.   They—John, Paul, George, and Ringo (whose names were always, and I mean always, said in that order)—were new, different, exciting, and ours.

I was just nine when I heard them in that Oldsmobile and around sixteen by the time they broke up as a group, but what a joyous ride those seven years were.  Like so many others, I anticipated the release of every new album and the ones I bought I played over and over again on my terrible record player.  Rubber Soul was released when I was 11 ½, Sgt. Pepper when I was 13, and Magical Mystery Tour when I was 13 ½.  Something was changing in the music and something was changing in me.  Their music was becoming more sophisticated and the words were touching on new themes and new ideas.  As The Beatles grew musically, I was growing right along with them.  This was rock n roll in its heyday and I loved every minute of it.  These four lads from Liverpool’s music wasn't loud (though I think our parents thought it was—but they hadn't seen anything yet, nor, evidently, had we.)  Their music was creative and complex.  It was just something else, something that doesn't happen much today.

 Only two of The Beatles are still with us today.  John Lennon was murdered and George Harrison died of cancer.  Paul McCartney is married to a Jewish woman and has accompanied her to Yom Kippur services (so we are told.)  He continues to make music and tour.  Ringo, Richard Starke, is, well, he continues to be Ringo.  He is married to Barbara Bach and is quite involved in the entertainment business.  The members of The Beatles have been in the public eye for 50 years.  For those of us who have grown up with them, they are a part of us.  Their music is our music and most of us can sort of sing along when we hear the music played by an orchestra, in an elevator, or on the radio.  It only takes a few notes of “All My Loving”, or “She Loves You”, or “Yesterday” or “Hey Jude” to get us going.  And how many of you when you turned 64 didn't think about The Beatles?

 So as you walk down memory lane thinking about the first time you heard “Well she was just seventeen” or “Last night I said these words to my gal” it is hard to believe that fifty years have passed since Ed Sullivan introduced us to The Beatles and the screams in the audience began.  Our baby boomer journeys have taken us to many places on our Long and Winding Road as we've mourned and celebrated and danced and graduated and loved.  It may have been a Magical Mystery Tour or A Hard Day’s Night as we crossed our own Abbey Road.  At times we may have asked for Help, but “in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”  So let me just say that when I hear the words, “Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something, I think you’ll understand, When I’ll say that something, I wanna hold your hand”, it still makes me feel like a teenager and that yesterday doesn't seem so far away.  It is easy to smile.  It was a great time to be alive.

 When you light your Shabbat candles this evening, light one for the memories that bring a smile to your face or a toe to tap or a song to sing.  Light the other candle for John and George and all those who've shared with us some of their creative genius to make our lives filled with a bit more joy, but are no longer here today.          

 Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jon Adland