Beat the Drum while Rome Burns

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5 Responses

  1. Ori Pomerantz says:

    I think you did an excellent job of identifying the problem, treating fun diversions as if they were relevant activities. However, there is a related solution hidden here.

    To get back to the Psalms, they weren’t just written in Hebrew. They were also written in a particular poetic style, one that we know from Ugarit predates the Israelite Kingdom. Probably the people who first heard those Psalms were more receptive because the style was familiar, even if the message was not. Similarly, the poetic style of the medieval Piyutim was taken from Arabic poetry.

    A drum circle, by itself, is meaningless for Judaism – even if it happens to take place in a Synagogue. But think of a drum circle where one of the musicians reads from the Psalms to the beating of the drums. People might come for the drumming, hear the Psalms, and get interested enough to learn more about them. A similar process happened to me with SCA bardic.

  2. Yaakov Rosenblatt says:

    The recent emergence of a popular Jewish Reggae singer is a case in point. Seeing a (Hasidic) Jew do something otherwise associated with Jamaicans is interesting and entertaining. But it hardly forms the building blocks of a Jewish identity – Jewish lyrics notwithstanding.

  3. Yaakov Rosenblatt, Dallas says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post. You have given hope to many who have grasped for it these last few weeks.

  4. Edvallace says:


    When that singer also performs on MTV and stage dives it does far more harm than any good his lyrics can deliver. I’ve yet to find someone who’s been turned on to Judaism by his performances, and I’ve personally met more than one Jw, who questioned why an observant jew would do such things.

    Bottom line: Sell Judaism if you want people to buy Judaism. Don’t sell reggae/bongo drums/tikun olam etc. and expect people to buy Judaism.

  5. Josh Milner says:

    I run that drum circle. I founded it not at all for the purposes of outreach, just to have fun, and maybe teach a little Torah while we are at it so it isn’t just what everyone else does. It’s really that simple. I hear your point, but it really wasn’t relevant to our drum circle.
    Just as the use of this very medium– a blog– co-opts a popular cultural trend for the purposes of bettering Jewish experience, so too can a drum circle.

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