Monday, April 11, 2011

Frugal Jewish Education: Using Jewish Music to learn about Passover (ShirLaLa Pesach)

Oh, my.  Can you believe that the first Seder is just a week from today?  Passover will be here and gone before we know it, if you can believe it.  One thing that is really important to us is making sure that we make the most out of every holiday at home, so our kids both know what is going on at the actual celebration and are excited about it in the weeks leading up to it.

One of the best things about the Seder is all the songs and prayers that are unique to the Seder.  Who doesn't love a rousing rendition of "Dayeinu" or " Adir Hu?"   The excitement and warmth of sharing the same songs together year after year is what makes everyone feel like they belong.  However, the abundance of songs can also be scary, especially for kids whose list of Jewish song repertoire consists of "Bim Bam" and "HaMotzi." 

This means that one of the best ways to involve your kids in holiday celebrations is to teach them the music that goes along with them.  But maybe you didn't pay perfect attention during every minute of every riveting Sunday school lesson when you were eight years old, maybe you are a little older than eighteen, or maybe you haven't gone to a full seder each year. What if you don't know all (or any, oy!) of the tunes or words well enough in order to pass them along to your children? 

Well, Shira Kline has you covered. 

Shira is a woman who is as passionate about Jewish music and Jewish family education as I've seen anyone.  If you play her Passover CD in your house and car for the week leading up to Seder, I promise you that you and your family will be familiar with and excited about the tunes.  Here it is:

Just one more thing.  Now, if you're like me, you've anxiously downloaded a bunch of CDs about which others have gushed, "No, really, you don't even realize it's kid's music! Seriously!"  And then you copy that sucker onto your iPod and excitedly plug it into the computer and WHO WERE THEY KIDDING?!!?!  Because anything that drones on about colors, the alphabet, brushing your teeth, or clapping your hands is kid music.

So, you know I'm telling you the truth when I tell you that you don't even realize that ShirLaLa is kid's music.  Well, half of it is - the honest-to-goodness kind, that instructs our sweeties to "shake your tushies" and make froggy noises.  The other half, however, is just great Jewish music.  She and her awesome band have recorded the old-school, straight-up Seder songs to a mildly rockin' beat so that singing the same old songs is actually really fun.  She even recorded the Festival Kiddush and Candle Blessings without background music, as you would hear them in someone's home.  She really, really wants to give families the tools to step into Jewish traditional celebrations knowing their tunes.  Especially for only $8.99 for 20 tracks... It's an incredible thing.
In case you're still wavering, here's my track-by-track review (since we've been listening to this nonstop for a couple weeks now and I could do it with my eyes closed anyway) :

1.Pesach Bamba - Sung to the tune of "LaBamba", Shira has one of these on every holiday CD.  It incorporates sweet verses about Pesach between choruses. 

2.Hal’l'l’l'luyah - Another song Shira has on every holiday CD, with "Halleluyah" as the chorus and holiday-specific tidbits in between.

3.Let My People Go - A song about Moses and Pharoah.  The chorus encourages the children to sing "No, no, no!" What kid doesn't like that?

4.Building Cities  - Er...we usually skip over this one.  Not so grabbing, maybe?

5.Listen King Pharaoh  - another song about Pharoah that encourages kids to shout along.  Love.

6.Frogs - A contemporary classic.  The one that starts with, "One morning when Pharoah woke in his bed..." Includes real frog sounds, a highlight for my little ones.

7.Hallelu  - Shira tells the story of the actual Exodus and crossing of the Sea of Reeds with a backdrop of "Hallelu" - the same tune my fellow hippy-dippy Reconstructionists like to use for Psalm 150.  She ends with "Kol Haneshema Tehallel Yah."  Your kids listen to this, and they'll know it for shul too.

8.Miriam’s Song - Debbie Friedmans, z''l.  Lyrics have been slightly modified to go "...and the children dancing with their timbrels..."

9.Elijah Rock - The classic gospel tune.  Love it.

10.Kadeish Urchatz - The "order of the Seder" tune as you grew up with it.

11.Mah Nishtana - The Four Questions sung to the traditional tune.

12.Lotsa, Lotsa Matza  - A song about all the foods we eat on Passover.  (Matzah, chicken, matza balls, gefilte fish...)  We've made up movements to go with each food.  SO fun.

13.Dayeinu - Traditional tune.  My kids are OBSESSED with "Dayeinu," especially Rami.

14.Passover Game  - Each verse gives "clues" to guess which Passover thing she's talking about.  Asher loves this one.

15.Who Knows One? - A rendition of "Who Knows One?" with different voices for each answer. NOT traditional.

16.Bashana Haba’ah - a fun, upbeat tune.
17.Candle blessing for festivals - Debbie Friedman's z''l tune sung a'capella.

18.Kiddush for festivals - Traditional tune sung a'capella.  Really great if you don't yet know how to make Kiddush for Chag - the same tune goes for all of them!

19.B’tzeit Yisrael - A short version of Hallel, sung in many homes.

20.Adir Hu - Old school, straight up "Adir Hu."  Still awesome.

So, what are you waiting for?  Go do the download and blast this sucker as much as you can for the next week.  Any CD that can teach my kid to do this in (seriously, no joke) less than an hour total of singing along has my ringing endorsement:

(Full disclosure: Shira hasn't compensated or asked me to do this in any way, shape or form.  She doesn't even know I exist, actually, which now that I think about it makes me kinda sad.  Shira, are you reading this?  If you are, let's have a lady date.)

What Passover music do you love to share with your family?  Do you have any more recommendations for us?



  2. I have all of shira's albums and we love them! The kids love singing and dancing around the house.... she has become an integral part of our mostly secular lives.
    Sarah mom to an 8 and 5 year old

  3. Hi Rabbi

    Sharon Friedman from KI (I hope you remember me) This a wonderful blog. Chag Samach to you and your family.



Thanks for your comments! They make my day.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...