From Broadway to Meah Shearim

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When my parents first met, they liked each other right away. But what really clinched the deal for my mom was the fact that my father, like her, knew all the lyrics of the relatively obscure Broadway musical “Lost in the Stars.”

And my parents’ die-hard love of Broadway musicals has never faltered. Growing up, 99% of our family’s record collection consisted of Broadway musicals.

And I also inherited the Freedman family Broadway chromosome. Growing up, I would spend hours hovering over the family record player, returning the record player’s needle back again and again to the same indented line in order to listen to that week’s favorite Broadway tune over and over.

My life has changed a ton since those evenings spent hovering over the record player. I grew up pretty much non-observant. Today, I am Orthodox. I grew up in Baltimore. Today I live in Jerusalem. I grew up listening to top 40 and Broadway tunes. Today, I almost never hear music that isn’t Jewish.

But last week, my fifth grader Hallel was sitting on our sofa, pink-faced and crying about her tough day at school. 5th grade was way too difficult, she told me through her sobs. Several tests every week, piles of homework that would have been too heavy even for the bionic woman. Worst of all, that day Hallel had received the lowest grade of her entire whole elementary school career.

So out of the blue, from a stashed away primordial memory, I started singing “The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow!”… And I loved how my voice sounded, strong and tremulous in such a pretty way, serenading my frum Israeli children who until that day had never even heard a Broadway tune.

As I belted out this song to my mystified but smiling daughters, I was reminded of the advice the Toldos Aharon Rebbetzin gave me earlier this month: “Focus on the idea that tomorrow will be a better day” and I smiled at my surreal triangle of associations with that song: the rush of the Chassidim through the mysterious alley-ways of Meah Shearim, the creaking wooden floors and microwaved mallo pies of my Baltimore childhood, and the fragrance of my beloved grandmother’s favorite perfume as she sat between me and my brother at a Broadway matinee.

And I was reminded of the long, strange, blessed trip that my life has been so far and continues to be until today…


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One comment

  1. Karen Pear

    So true. Well put: A long strange blessed trip!

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