Our son's interest in playing the violin, tied in to "Fiddler on the Roof," and the recent Jewish commemoration of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and High Holy Days. Other ties to the Jewish Faith per a friend, Howard. Taking a daily "faith-walk" with G_d for physical, emotional, mental and spiritual exercises and well-being.
“If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.”
"Fiddler on the Roof" trailer:
The other night, I was taking my daily walk around the neighborhood and heard a sound like a violin coming from the distance as the sun was setting – how beautiful the sunrise and the sunset can be! What a great time of solitude these walks can be to reflect on G_d's creation and search for ways to improve as a person to “do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your G_d (Micah 6:8) .”
And then, I decided to call my friend Howard, a fellow social worker from New Orleans, to catch on things. Little did I know that Rosh Hashanah was beginning the following day, so Howard, a member of a Conservative Jewish Congregation, was looking forward to the High Holy Days. Maybe that was a shofar that I had heard earlier in the neighborhood? Anyway, I wished Howard a Happy New Year! I know how important the Sabbath, Passover and many other festivals and traditions are to him just like in my faith-walk.
Howard recounted to me how special these High Holy Days are for him and his family. This marked the second year since Saul, his father, had died and would not be with Howard and family for the traditional Judaic observances. Howard reminded me about Yom Kippur being a Day of Atonement, as well as the repentance, fasting and prayer that are central to that tradition.
Also, we shared with each other about our beloved New Orleans Saints and anxiously awaiting for the then 1st game of the New Orleans Saints against the Vikings, as we had been still gloating so much as “Who Dat's” about the Saints being the Super Bowl champs from earlier in the year. Saul used to love to watch the 'Aints games with Howard, and while he wasn't around to watch them beat the Vikings in the playoffs and the Colts in the Super Bowl earlier this year, he certainly was with us in spirit!
So in updating Howard about my new job and other family matters, I mentioned to him about JP, our 12 y/o, having decided recently to take up violin lessons with a friend, Nicholas. Their Cypress Heights Academy Music Teacher, Lawrence, had brought his violin to school a few weeks earlier, so it must have made a deep connection to both JP and Nicholas.
It was like da javu when JP asked then about getting a violin and taking lessons at LSU Academy of Music, where Lawrence had recommended. Five years ago, I recalled taking JP to the Shaw Center on a Saturday when they had some kind of free arts day for kids to get a first hand experience with things like musical instruments and crafts like pottery.
I remember the music instructor at the Shaw gathering just giving JP the violin to get a feel for the instrument and how to hold it. She couldn't believe how quickly JP had correctly positioned the violin under his chin and held the bow. I quickly took a picture of “the little maestro,” like I had done a little earlier at the function when he used the pottery wheel there to shape a little bowl. It just goes to show you, that you never know what some simple educational event can do to plant the seed for something that you may eventually develop as a talent for G_d.
So Howard was excited to hear about JP's interest in music an especially the violin. It dawned upon me right then and there that this was no coincidence for the timing of my call to Howard, the High Holy Days and JP's interest in the violin. I mentioned to Howard about our love of the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof,” and how I had begun a better appreciation of Judaism per the many times that I have watched that movie with our family.
We always got a kick of Tevye singing and dancing to “If I were a Rich Man,” which I thought I had to be in order to afford the price of a violin. Actually, I did some shopping around and we were able to get a very nice one locally for JP for $ 150. And while I didn't have to “marry off” as many daughters as Tevye did, I really loved the way he depicted dealing with the common struggles that we all share in life as an individual, a spouse or a parent, as well as with crossing over cultural boundaries that are part and parcel with the human condition. I still get goose bumps when I think of those great scenes from “The Bottle and Wedding Dances.”
Also, this summer, “Diary of a Young Woman,” about Anne Frank, was included in JP's summer reading requirements, so he got a deeper appreciation of what serious struggles that people of the Jewish faith have had to deal with for many years, as was so well depicted in the Fiddler movie. Even more poignant for JP was his opportunity this summer during the People to People European Tour he attended to actually go to the home where Anne Frank and her family stayed hiding in Amsterdam before getting caught.
So as we hope to begin a new tradition of violin playing in our family, while I continue to pluck on my guitar strings, may we join Tevye and be ever attentive to listening for Fiddler on the Roof. Oh oh – some glass just broke in the house; Is it JP The Fiddler live from the roof or is it Memorex?
Keith John Paul Horcasitas, 1133 Knollhaven Drive, BRLA 70810, khorcasitas.yahoo.com, September 12, 2010.