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A Jewish Take on the Reality of Santa

Santa Claus is coming to town!

HanukaChristmasSo many people believed that as children. And many of us make-believe it with our children. I didn’t believe it as a child because I celebrated a different holiday that brought light to dark winter nights – Hanuka.

So when my eldest daughter was in grade school and she asked me, “Daddy, do you believe in Santa Claus?” I wasn’t surprised she asked her Jewish parent. I imagined she didn’t want to hurt her mother’s feelings.

But I wasn’t prepared for the question. I knew I couldn’t lie to her – at her age and the earnestness with which she asked the question, I thought the lie would have been disappointing. I think she wanted me to show her respect. I think she was saying, “Daddy, please, treat me like a big kid. I’m really ready.”

So I told her what I believed: “If you’re asking me if I believe a jolly fat man comes down the chimney and brings presents, I think you already know if that is true or not. But if you’re asking me if I believe that the spirit of Santa makes great magic happen that brings many wonderful gifts, then I can say with all my heart that I believe in Santa. And those of us who understand that spirit get the joy of sharing it with others.”

Shabbat Sweet – L’cha Dodi

It’s a Song-A-Day Marathon Leading to the 11/7 Release Celebration, with An Interpretive Translation of the Prayer: Today’s Song: L’Cha Dodi

Photo: Billy Kaplan
Photo: Billy Kaplan

Observe, cherish, hear the word as one,
The universe completed at this moment of union,
Your world filled with
Beauty, glory and praise.

Shabbat calls and we return
to the place of deepest beginnings.
Last in creation, but first in thought,
Our original blessing arrives once more.

In the place of holiness arise,
Leave your grief behind, join the land of the living.
You have dwelled too long in the valley of weeping
Come bask in my love and compassion.

Come in peace, crowned with joy,
Abundant in happiness, we welcome you in,
Our beloved, our friend,
Our bride.

 Join us November 7 at JRC or YouTube as Billy Kaplan & The Legendary Sweets Celebrate the release of the CD.

Click Here to order for pick up


My last time?

I’m getting ready to head into the studio to record vocals for three pieces. If all goes well, this may be my last time recording in the studio on this project to record Shabbat Sweet. There are still other sessions scheduled to record other players; just not me.


So I’m a bit melancholy. I’ll be okay; just sayin.

A Great Day!!

I had two rehearsals today to get ready for the Jewish Battle of the Bands on February 22, 2014 at the Meyer Kaplan JCC.

First, I met this morning with two of the three “Sweet Sisters,” and Jonah Karsh on clarinet. We practiced the three tunes for the performance on the 22nd, and we played around with tunes we’ll be recording. It was so nice to have my house filled with music.

Then, this evening, I met with the rhythm section that will be playing with us on the 22nd: Mike O’Mara on Keyboards, Dave Newman on Drums, and Robert Castillo on upright bass. We got into a quick, wonderful groove at Dave’s house! Thanks, Dave!

And what about tomorrow, you ask? Nothing much… I’m just going to record the lead vocals for the current pieces! Stay tuned!

Beggar’s Niggun – A New Recording

I wrote in a recent blog about a new piece of music I composed called a niggun, or wordless melody, and some of you asked to hear it. So… “Beggar’s Niggun,” as I call it, is posted above.

This niggun is meant to usher in Shabbat. Singing along is a way to “get ready” to enter into the peace of shabbat, it is a spiritual call to rise above the mundane, everyday world.  And EVERYONE knows the words… ‘cos there ain’t any!

I hope as you catch on to the melody you’ll add your voice and sing along. You can’t go wrong. You don’t need to sing strong. (obviously there is something wrong with me if I have to rhyme every time!)

As you can tell, I recorded it with a few friends. Or to be more accurate, I recorded it with Me, Myself and I.  And “we” can’t thank my father enough for helping me turn my basement into a recording studio periodically.

I’m dedicating this recording to the memory of my aunt on her birthday and in honor of my friend, LM, for a fast and speedy recovery.  May the ruach, or spirit, of this niggun heal wounds of the heart, body and mind, and create a space in your life that allows the peace of Shabbat to rest in your soul.

Listening Again

I just listened to my recording of “Dodi Li” from “A Shabbat Sweet,” my original collection of melodies for Shabbat, the Friday night prayer service.

It’s been a while since I’ve listened… I guess I’d been busy with life – summer, family, vacations, work — and I’ve written two new pieces of music including a niggun, or wordless melody, for the start of the “Shabbat Sweet” service.

Anyhoo… I really enjoyed giving “Dodi Li” a listen after not having heard if for weeks. And I have to admit I was still pleased with the recording. Actually, I thought, “Hey! I want to record more of this'”

If you haven’t yet heard “Dodi Li,” please give it a listen. And if you like it, please share it with your friends and family. The more people hear it, the more possible it will be that I’ll complete the record.

My Daughter is Amazing!!!

So… my daughter, Hannah, added background vocals yesterday.  Oh. My. Goodness.  While before I’d been grinning like the proverbial cat that ate the canary, now I’m smiling so much as I listen to the recording my cheeks are beginning to really hurt.

Hannah did an amazing job singing as much as eight tracks of vocals in some sections, creating a lovely choral sound.  Wow.  My kid is very, very impressive.  And even though she had a sore throat going in, she hung in there, sang passionately, and created an absolutely lovely tone.  Steve said that while usually with “kids” he just accepts what he gets, with her he could tell he could treat her like any adult singer coming into the studio… he pushed her for quality and she responded!!!

After I left, Steve added a shaker and some hand claps at the end, truly setting it off just as I dreamed and imagined.

What was it Willy Wonka warned Charlie at the end of the movie: “do you know what happened to the little boy who got everything he wanted?  He lived happily ever after.”