Wednesday, February 1, 2023

And The Jews Safely Crossed

The Sabbath of Song: This coming Shabbat is the Sabbath of Song, when we again read the story of the Crossing of the Red Sea and the ensuing celebrations.

And for those who are a bit Torah-challenged (aren't we all?), Abq Jew's sources tell him that some guy named Cecil B DeMille shot a movie of the whole affair. Here's a photo:

This is indeed a Shabbat for singing and celebration. Abq Jew therefore reminds you that, over at Congregation B'nai Israel, their new-ish Hazzan Jonathan Angress is in the building!

Cantor Angress

But wherever you are, you should especially sing and celebrate this Shabbat. Not only is this Shabbat Shirah - it's also Ice Cream for Breakfast Day*! Plus, it's the day before Erev Tu BiShevat (New Year of the Trees, aka Jewish Arbor Day) - the 15th day of the month of Shevat (and not the day before Three BiShevat).

What shall we sing? Abq Jew hears you ask. There's always Hava Nagila, which, it turns out, is not about Abq Jew's friend Gila, who grew up in Cuba. And, of course, there's Adon Olam, which can be sung to almost any tune in the world if you try hard enough.

Nope - here is Little Moses, the song that Abq Jew intends to sing. Abq Jew first heard it performed by Jen Larsen and Terry McGill* and Straight Drive, Abq Jew's second-favorite bluegrass band (#1 will always be The Greenbriar Boys, with John Herald and Bob Yellin). 

You've probably never heard of it, but that's OK. Abq Jew will teach it to you! While searching around on YouTube, Abq Jew found a most splendiferous version of Little Moses - by, of all groups, The Seekers. With video from the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt.

For those of you who were too young (and still are), here's a bit of what Wikipedia tells us about them:
The Seekers are an Australian quartet folk music-influenced pop music group which was originally formed in Melbourne in 1962. They were the first Australian popular music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States. 

They were popular during the 1960s with their best-known configuration as: Judith Durham on vocals, piano and tambourine; Athol Guy on double bass and vocals; Keith Potger on twelve-string guitar, banjo and vocals; and Bruce Woodley on guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals. 

The Seekers

Where did Little Moses come from? The Carter Family of course, who recorded it on February 14, 1929. Sara Carter learned this “religious ballad” from an older relative. Here are the lyrics:
Away by the waters so blue
The ladies were winding their way
While Pharaoh's little daughter went down to the water
To bathe in the cool of the day
Before it was dark she opened the ark
And found the sweet babe that was there

And away by the waters so blue
The infant was lonely and sad
She took him in pity and thought him so pretty
And it made little Moses so glad
She called him her own, her beautiful son
And she sent for a nurse who was near

And away by the waters so blue
They carried that beautiful child
To his tender mother, to his sister and brothers
Little Moses looked happy and smiled
His mother so good did all that she could
To raise him and teach him with care

And away by the sea that was red
Little Moses the servant of God
While in him confided, the sea was divided
As upwards he lifted his rod
And the Jews safely crossed while Pharaoh's host
Was drownded in the waters and lost

And away on a mountain so high
The last that he ever did see
With Israel victorious, his hopes were most glorious
That soon all the Jordan be free
When his spirit did cease, he departed in peace
And rested in the Heavens above
How often, Abq Jew hears you ask, does Ice Cream For Breakfast Day (the first Saturday in February) coincide with Shabbat Shira (Parshat Beshalach)? Off the top of his head, or even farther down - Abq Jew hasn't the faintest notion.
But you can count on Abq Jew's Facebook friend Hebrew Calendar Facts (see also November 2021's A Tale of Two Revolts) and December 2020's Apple Sauce and Sour Cream for more facts) for the exact answer!
Shabbat Shirah can be anywhere from mid-January to mid-February (with a range of about a month), so it's going to be the 1st week of February about 1/4 of the time.  (Looking at the 100-year span from 1974-2073, i.e., the past 50 years and the next 50 years, it happens 26 out of 100 times.)  
However, this is not evenly distributed.  We're getting the Ice Cream Song combo this year, but the last time was 11 years ago, and the next time will be 11 years from now, so in our present generation, this is rare! 
In recent memory, Ice Cream For Breakfast Day fell on Shabbat Shirah in 1993, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2012, and after this year (2023), it will happen again in 2034, 2039, 2042, 2045, 2048, 2050, and 2053. 
As for the triple combo of Ice Cream For Breakfast Day / Shabbat Shirah / Tu BiShvat (which we are *not* getting this year), this happens 7 times in the same 100-year span.  It happened in 1980, 1993, 2004, and 2007, and will happen again in 2034, 2061, and 2064.

So who, Abq Jew hears you ask, is Terry McGill? One of the finest 5-string banjo players in the Northeast, with whom Abq Jew was proud to study!

Terry is just recently retired (from his day job), which means he has even more time to play with the best bluegrass bands in the aforementioned Northeast. He'll be playing a house concert this weekend (in Teaneck, New Jersey) with Andy Statman and Gene Yellin - yes, Bob's guitar-playing brother. 

House Concert

Once upon a time, Abq Jew met Bob Yellin (but alas, did not study banjo with him). At Kibbutz Ein Dor (where King Saul once had a séance with the local necromancer) in the Spring of 1971. Those were the days!

Kibbutz Ein Dor

One More Thing


Shabbat Shalom, Albuquerque!
Good Shabbos, New Mexico!

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