Existing Member?

Sam-I-Am Violin on the streets, fundamentalist Judaism, planting organic vegetables, and the like.

Your music is the tears inside my eyes

ISRAEL | Friday, 15 February 2008 | Views [1315] | Comments [5]

Thank goodness I accidentally laundered-destroyed that green kippah, i had 'secular american' tattooed all over me.

Thank goodness I accidentally laundered-destroyed that green kippah, i had 'secular american' tattooed all over me.

My violin lurks beneath every story I tell on this blog. I realize now that I am not a solo violinist as of yet; my repertoire is way too thin. But if I didn't bring the beautiful instrument, then how many fewer people would I have met, how many fewer ridiculous situations would i be placed in? Truly, I would regret it. I've played with probably some 15 different guitarists since I've been here, I've been asked by an overweight Haredi music producer to come to the studio sometime, and I've entertained a 9-person family after Havdalah on a Saturday night. But the sum whole of my violin playing is highlighted by 4 experiences:

1) The aforementioned fiddler "shtick" at the first of several weddings I have or will have attended in all to small a timeframe here in Israel. The picture above depicts said shtick. I suppose this deserves an asterisk because I wasn't actually playing the violin, the music was way too loud. But I suppose the asterisk could be removed when you factor in the leg flailing and general hamming I was doing for the enjoyment of the groom.

2) Moving up the food chain, the next wedding I attended, I actually was meant to be heard. My friend Emanuel was invited to play a song as the bride walked down the aisle, and he asked me to join him. The initial difficulty was to calm the raucous "ay yay yay" chanting of the yeshiva boys so we could create a softer mood for the bride's processional. Then when I realized that I was performing at an event of some importance for the first time in years, my right hand started to shake and the violin bow proceeded to bounce steadily for the first minute of the song. Thankfully I think people were focused elsewhere, and everyone appreciated our background music. We even got asked to play at another wedding in a few weeks' time.

3) Emanuel is scheming to keep me in Israel for good. He seems to think that having a violinist in tow will be just the sort of edge he needs to elbow his way to the top of what turns out to be a small but thriving Jewish music scene here. Emanuel's style is best described as "Ultra-Orthodox Goo Goo Dolls". Very melodic, very smooth, very breathy. Needless to say, this is not my preferred musical style, but it is a nice backdrop for my improvisation, and I want to see where this takes me. Last week was our first "gig" of sorts. Basically it was a guitarist, a violinist, and a bassist, performing in a smallish hall with terrible acoustics, in front of a bunch of 19 year old zionists. But the live performance practice was good for me, and we had fun intermingling Jewish standards with country fiddle tunes, and Emanuel originals with Pachelbel Canon. Emanuel is stoked for our pending explosion onto the scene.

4) This one doesn't really count, because it was an aborted mission. I got a call from my close friend Yerachmiel requesting my violin services. What for, I asked? For his marriage proposal. Zoinks. So I got dressed up all nice the next day and took the bouguet of flowers and my violin down to the Kotel (Wailing Wall), to ready myself for the couple's entrance. The plan was to get visual confirmation of their arrival, drop the flowers by the flag pole, and then as Yerachmiel happens upon the flowers with his girlfriend and muses "I wonder what these are doing here", I walk up from behind playing a nice little tune for the ensuing proposal. We'll never know how lame or cute that would have turned out though, because their 7 course meal went way too long and I sat out in the cold for two hours trying to figure out the best path for my violin entrance. No matter; whatever it took for them to be happy and remember the night. They did end up getting engaged; I was up until three thirty doing L'Chayims with the happy couple and their Shadchim, the go-betweener/matchmaker family that helped them to it.

Interesting, I went from playing at the wedding party, to playing at the wedding procession, to playing at the marriage proposal. Perhaps I'll play at the first date next.

Tags: Culture



I'll have to get Mrs. T to read this - she'll be thrilled to pieces! Love the photo. Where'd you get the clothes?
Love, Mom

  Mom Feb 17, 2008 7:38 AM


Sam, what a thrill to read your blog and see how you are taking your violin experience out into the world. I feel so proud to have nurtured you over the early stages, but never dreamt I was grooming you for the marriage proposals!

  mrst Feb 17, 2008 8:02 AM


dude. that pic is unbelievable. you've come a long way since playing damien rice tunes to which id try to sing along.

  mredovan Feb 19, 2008 4:19 AM


Sam I Am,

Love the blog. Your writing is witty, hilarious and most importantly, straight to the point (I could use some pointers in the latter category).

I read your first entry and this one; obviously, I have a lot of back reading to do.

Do Israelis enjoy wiffleball?

  Ben Neumann Feb 19, 2008 5:25 PM



::us playing music together reference::
::Tolkien reference::
::lauding you for being both epic and bigtime::
::complaints about real life::
::Tolkien reference::


  Peter Mar 3, 2008 7:26 AM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about Israel

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.