Yom Kippur – two musical resources

For your listening…pleasure?

Contemplation is more like it. We’re seconds away from the big YK – a time where we are typically pretty hard on ourselves.  Time to make some changes…

Here are two pieces for you to listen to:

1. “Am I Born Just To Serve” – a piece written collaboratively by campers at Ramah Berkshires – produced by them with Glenn Grossman – after studying this enigmatic role of the High Priest and it’s meaning for us today.  CLICK HERE

2. “HaYom (Today)” – a piece I wrote using the liturgy Hayom T’Amtzeinu – a journey into the urgency of “today-ness” for all the ways we want to improve.

Wishes for a meaningful, spiritually relevant Yom Kippur.

Bet Girls Rocked @Shwayder Camp

I had to share…cuter than this, people?

Written collaboratively with the Bet Girls at Shwayder Camp (featured here!)

Glenn produced the track simply with an innocence that reflects the beautiful work they did together!

Click SHWAYDER Bet Girls SONG to listen to Kehillah Tova!

bet girls

Here are the words:

Kehillah Tova – we are a good community

We laugh and work as a team

And always stick together…

 

Chorus:

Were close like family – a puzzle that fits together

16 girls united as one – we are indestructible

Ooooh – I don’t feel so different anymore

 

Donuts, unicorns and mustasches

Awkward handshakes and jokes about milkshakes

We’re not stuck in classes

We’re outside in nature all the day

Together – hey

 

Chorus

 

We do more in 24 hours than…

Jewish summer camp gives you more opportunities to be of service in 24 hours than most people get in a year. Here’s my story from the past 24 hours at URJ Camp Coleman
In 24 hours I:
  • Helped an aspiring songwriter find her voice through the pen while encouraging her to open up more and give her bunk mates a chanceIMG_1179
  • supported a staff member who needed to plan an anti-bullying workshop
  • broke through a 9th grade clique-issue where the campers discovered they were not alone in feeling the way they felt and worked with them to solve their own issue using experiential methods and music
  • helped a unit leader create some new roles for campers who (very age appropriately) act out during programs
  • shared a storytelling model with 10th graders who explored and shared their stories about “why this Judaism stuff even matters to me”
  • shared music and an inspirational personal story to open the 8th graders up to being the Heroes of their own journeyIMG_1166
  • while songleading Shabbat am services, I kvelled as the cornerstone fellows framed extremely inspirational, moving Intentions in the theme of hearing your call (The theme of Cornerstone as exemplified in this SONG)
  • entered into a sacred space under the stars with the 9th and 10th graders – introducing them to the ancient soothing nighttime Jewish rituals and songs we have
This was only one person’s work. Now multiply that by the number of staff at a camp and you’ll start to understand the capacity of just how much “good” jewish summer camps can do in a whole summer. Imagine the ripple effect on a generation of young souls.

Magic#7 – 7 songs inspired by 7 camps

Magic # 7
I am embarking on a new, exciting project this summer I’m producing. The subject: Jewish Summer camp

Placeholder Title: Naomi Less’ Magic #7 Project

7 songs from my time spent in residency at 7 Jewish summer programs across the US this summer. The songs will reflect stories and understandings she takes from my work with campers and staff members – exploring Judaism, identity and adolescence. There are 7 days in the Jewish narrative of creation – imagine what can be created in 7 camps!

I will record and produce the songs together with producer my Glenn Grossman (www.studio-G2.com), using inspiration, words, wisdom and stories from the participants.

I am not a sociologist, I do believe that this needs to be somehow captured – the breadth of experience that our participants are engaging in a deep identity formation level. This is my way of adding to that conversation.

Stay tuned for updates pictures and initial clips that we’re exploring together

First stop: camp Coleman

it was light at 5pm!!!

We are coming out of the darkest part of the year.  I love it!  I celebrate the birthday of the Trees (Tu B’shvat) in dead of winter as the celebration of the potential of growth! If I’m lucky, I’m present and conscious enough as I was today to see, when I emerged at 5pm out of the subway that it wasn’t quite dark yet!  Time is moving!!!

Celebrating many FIRSTS! New Pilots Programs, Music and Concerts!!!

1. First ever Jewish Kids Rock program

  • In Dec 2012, at JCC as part of the Jewish Journey’s Project we launched Jewish Kids Rock!  Check out the amazing videos HERE!  Ready to bring this to your community?  Email: naomiless@gmail.com

2. Producing Music:

  • New Publication: My song “Thank You” produced by Glenn Grossman, was selected as one of the URJ Transcontinental Music compilation CD, “Ruach 5773.”  The CD and songbook is about to be published  – stay tuned to find out how to order! Thanks for the support!
  • New Duet: Rick Recht cut a new album which I get to sing a duet with him called Dah Lifnei!  Check it out HERE!
  • New Track: Glenn and I are back in the studio producing a new track for the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s CORNERSTONE fellowship (a program I started way back in the day)!  It is all about a Hero’s Journey and may just may feature the KAZOO!!! Stay Tuned
  • Are you a Jewish musician who wants to record a track or album?  Talk to my amazing producer (and husband) Glenn Grossman!  He builds studio quality, professionally produced Jewish musical sound for you! (Check out his commercial music alongside the Jewish music and you’ll be sold!)

3. LIVE WEBSTREAM CONCERT Feb 2nd 8:30pm – first time ever!

  • JRR Rock Your World Concert – I’m playing a Live Stream Webcast Concert through StageIt.com.  I am SO honored that all of the proceeds of my show will be benefiting an organization and cause I care deeply about: KESHET for full inclusion of LGBT Jews in the Jewish community!  Sign on HERE

4. Jewish Rock Radio ROCKFEST and Songleader Boot Camp

  • JRR ROCKFEST – Jewish Rock Radio is producing all day concert in St. Louis on Feb 17th starting at 3pm.  I get to play with the likes of Billy Jonas, Mikey Pauker, Shira Kline, Jay Rapaport, Saul Kaye and many many other INCREDIBLE Jewish musicians. Can’t get to st. Louis?  It’s being STREAMED!! Click HERE
  • Songleader Boot Camp!!  I am SO excited to be a featured presenter at the National Songleader Bootcamp in St. Louis!!!  If you are interested in attending, if you love to sing, lead, jam out, this is for you!  Click here..

5. NEW PROGRAM FOR LITTLE ONES AND THEIR PARENTS: Songs for Soulful Slumber

  • I had the privilege of piloting a new program based around night time ritual for parents and little ones!  Stay tuned for info about producing a new cd and bringing this program to your community!  Get out your PJ’s and Blankies!! 

6. NEW WORSHIP FOR 8-12 YEAR OLDS:

  • I will be designing and leading 8-12 year old Sat morning experiential worship for the amazing ROMEMU starting next month…so stay tuned!!!

It was magical fall and winter of musical worship with the communities in NY I work with – SAJ in Manhattan, Congregation Mt. Sinai in Brooklyn and Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale. And as always, an incredible year of musical performing for amazing communities from Denver, CO to Sydney, Australia and everywhere in between

Can’t believe how fast the year is going… Taking a breath – witnessing the seasons change, reflecting on all of the amazing people I’ve had the blessing to meet and looking forward to the spring and of course to the summer in the Jewish camp world!

Happy Birthday, Trees!

Are you a community or camp who wants to book me?

Email: naomiless@gmail.com

Sh’ma Yisrael – Listen Israel Sheet Music available FREE

As part of the ethos of this movement for spiritual civil rights in Israel, we want to extend to music educators and musicians, the sheet music to “Sh’ma Yisrael-Listen Israel” at no charge to you.

Fran and I are giving the song, video and music away to you to use to activate and educate folks about when Jewish public religious law comes into direct conflict with core Jewish democratic values.

To download the sheet music, click here:  Shma Yisrael Listen Israel – sheet music

To listen download the track CLICK HERE

To watch the video, CLICK HERE

Three influential American women – Hot Mamalah, Call your zeyde and Listen Israel

This is the week of the influential American Jewish woman.
I will front this with the following – not an apology, a disclaimer – one of these is me! I am celebrating a moment of achievement. (We should all do that from time to time and not be ashamed of it!)
So,
#1 – Hot Mamalah – yes, Lisa Klug has done it again. And this time, she has a WHOLE BOOK OF COOL JEWS that are WOMEN!

Talk about celebrating achievement! (Yes, I do happen to appear in the book on page 9 with my work teaching young women how to rock with social responsibility).  The cool thing is that not only does she feature “hot mamalahs” but has amazing empowering and hilarious takes on being a Jewish woman!  The great news is…you can win a copy, along with about $300 worth of goodies here!
And there’s also a super cute video here!
ANd if you can’t wait to see if you won the free copy, you can actually support a Jewish female entrepreneur by PURCHASING a copy here!
CELEBRATING LISA!  Congratulations Jewish rocking chick!
#2. Michele Citrin has partnered up with Mik Moore’s Jewish Council for Education and Research to create a fabulous follow up video to the Great Schlep – called Call Your Zeyde.  Put simply…WATCH IT and then DO IT!
#3. Another video launched this week – from YOURS TRULY – called SH’MA YISRAEL – LISTEN ISRAEL
Fran Gordon co-wrote our song “Shma Yisrael” which asks the Jewish community at large why in Israel, a modern Jewish democracy, the spiritual civil rights of all Jews are not protected.  This song is part of a larger initiative called the “Sacred Rights, Sacred Songs Project” – a concert to awaken Jews around the world to the conflict between Public Jewish Law and the core democratic values found in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. (ie. marriage laws, women’s rights, divorce, conversion, burial, public transportation.)
Put simply – enough of standing by and watching the religious rights in Israel be dictated by one voice.  ALL voices need to be represented.
Go ahead, listen, comment, “LIKE” our facebook page and then ACT, SPEAK OUT, DO SOMETHING!
I think that’s a pretty good week for the women of America, yes?

exciting summer music

Seems like summer is half over already. Can it be?

Are the sounds of summer also half over? Take advantage of listening to some new music.  I was reminded today of how much fun it is to discover new artists.  Often, I get so busy, with writing music and performing, that I forget to keep feeding my “music lover” side!  Today, on my flight to LA, I had the opportunity to listen to over 2 hours’ worth of new artists on the media player on the plane!  What a gift.

And exciting news, as I travel the country working with Jewish camps on music programming, song leading, leadership development and Jewish ritual:

There are two compilations coming out soon that will be featuring two of my songs!

The first came out just this week and it’s FREE!

Craig Taubman has done it again!  A summer sampler of TRAVEL SONGS for kids and parents.

Yours truly is featured with my track “Meshuga’at” along with amazing friends and fellow music travelers Shira Kline, Sam Glaser, Peri Smilow and more! DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE for a LIMITED TIME!

And soon afterwards, LAUNCHBOX, a new initiative for teens in the Los Angeles area will be receiving a box of goodies including a sampler CD curated by Jewish Rock Radio – featuring my track “Thank You”.  Thanks to Rick Recht and the folks at JRR for the love!  More soon on this!

Happy Summer!

Follow my travels at @jchicksrock or my facebook page

SXSW Interactive produced life lessons? Go figure!

This past week, through an incredible professional development opportunity via ROI’s micro-grant program, I was able to step into a world virtually unknown to me, expand my thinking, perspective on the world and understanding of how I can further serve the Jewish community.  Oddly enough, that came from the South by Southwest Interactive Conference.
One would think, as a rock musician, I’d be better suited for the Music or even the Film conference – insanely fantastic networking.  But I took a step back and saw SXSW* Interactive as a new opportunity.  Needless to say – it was WORTH it – changing perspective, environments, leaving my comfort zone and exposing myself to a whole different world.  And, wow, the connections and new possibilities were ENDLESS.
* (that’s code for South By Southwest)
Here are 10 “Dibrot” – “sayings” that represent my life-lesson take-aways.
(Dibrot are often translated as Commandments, but I think sayings is closer to the word Dibrot)

Naomi’s 10 List
1. Networking for Others Creates BOTH Joy + Exponentially Extended Reach: I spoke with many fellow ROI’ers about their goals for SXSW. Yes, I came to take home learnings, but one of my favorite joys in life is making connections between people and ideas.  As I walked the halls, trade show or sat in sessions, I could connect my ROI colleagues’ desires by picking up business cards or information that they might be interested in. It feels REALLY good to help your colleagues and friends!!!   PLUS: Someone do the math on this, but imagine the greater ground and extended reach we have when we all operate this way!  And if that’s not reason enough, how about good old karma?
(Chaviva Galanz and I at an ROI hang during SXSW)
2. Plan for Serendipity: this actually came out of a session I attended with my new friend Yoni Sarason (Birthright Israel Next – Chicago).  The idea presented is a major life lesson.  When we enter places, meetings, conferences, etc., with a particular “track” or one particular outcome we’re looking for.  (for example: “get 10 leads on a music deal”)  that goal can limit us to serendipitous possibilities. If we enter a situation with a more open presence, we may find other opportunities that didn’t necessarily look exactly like our objective, but serve the same goal. (example: If I had only walked the halls myopically looking for folks who could connect me to music companies, I would’ve missed out on all of the other ways I could provide music in this world – like in games, interactive websites, sounds for documentaries, tv news segments.  The bigger goal is to make a living by doing music.) By leaving yourself open to serendipitious conversations, being PRESENT with folks, trusting that you know your goals – (lose the tunnel vision) –  you allow/plan for exponentially larger numbers of connections and opportunities.
3. Chasing the Unicorn is Silly (or in other words, FOMO – Fear of Missing Out): This is a pathology at SXSW.  There is this concept of “chasing the dragon” (dragon was replaced by Unicorn at SXSW) which means, whatever event you’re at – there’s some other event that’s hotter or with better connections, so you have to keep moving to chase that imaginary animal. (Apologies to all real unicorns for calling them imaginary.) The ROI’ers I was with broke through the pathology- who we were with WAS the Unicorn.  At least that was my experience.  I didn’t feel compelled to chase around, make sure I was at the “right” event – because wherever I was, there were quality interactions.  Quality interactions beats quantity in my opinion.  Plus, for those of us who actually like authentic human interaction, being present somewhere, to someone, with someone, actually feels really good for both people!
4. Chasing the Jewnicorn – or “chamsa chasing” is NOT silly: Yes, the Jewnicorn…a little joke.  We coined an activity called “Chamsa Chasing” which is really an secret (not anymore) term for “outreach”.  You see, we ROI’ers value the experience we had at ROI - living your Jewish values through social entrepreneurism, connecting with others who feel similarly, and collaborating together to make a better world (Tikkun Olam).  Therefore, we were on the lookout for social entrepreneurs at SXSW who were Jewish and might find ROI interesting as well.  At one point I  called it non-religious or Progressive Chabad.  I said this with the highest level of respect for Chabad which in my opinion, does the best outreach in the Jewish world, if not the WHOLE world.  As I’ve been quoted before in previous blogs and articles, I’m a “Jew-vangelist” – meaning, I love Judaism, I find it relevant, valuable and super engaging in my life.  So why would I not want to share that with people I meet, like or love?  So if there are folks out there who are Jewish and are social entrepreneurs, why would I not want to share my love of ROI with them.  Hence #chamsachasing at SXSW.
5. Trade Shows Rock:  There is such opportunity at trade shows. Every person you meet wants to tell you about their product or service.  But the reason they rock, is that Trade Shows are a personal challenge course game.  For every person I meet, I am challenged to connect what they do with either what I or my friends might be interested in.  It often goes beyond what they’re selling – (ex. a product development idea they haven’t thought about that I could help them with, a service that could help the Jewish community they could pilot with us.)  Possibilities are ENDLESS!  (this relates back to #2 – Planned Serendipity)
6. (Re)inventing Yourself can happen in a SECOND!: (this relates to #’s 5 and 2).  If you actually say what you do with confidence and authority, people believe you.  So even if this is the first time you’ve ever thought of yourself as a “game strategist” or a “blogger” or whatever your new passion is, when you believe it and say it out loud with confidence, unapologetically, others do as well!  (Short anecdote, in case you want to skip to #7) When I was first in NY, a new guitarist just starting out, carrying my new guitar, I bumped into LOU REED! (Yes, that Lou Reed). He looked at me.  I blurted out: I’m a musician.  He looked at me, looked at the guitar, looked back at me, nodded, smiled and walked on.  I’d never referred to myself as a musician before. Lou Reed believed me because I believed it myself!  In an instant, I was a musician.
7. Jews are Everywhere.  (They really are.)
8. Authenticity Opens Doors: A lesson encountered time and again, as I did at SXSW.  The more honest I was about who I was and what I wanted, the more people were responsive to me and wanting to help.  The less I “pitched” and the more “authentic” I was, the more open people were to expose themselves to me.  Go figure.
9. Go where you grow, not where you know.  This phrase, coined by Sarah Lefton (G-dcast.com) is built off my description of how I decided to go to the Interactive conference and not the music conference, pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  It’s a keeper, Sarah!  Call to Action moment: As a JEWISH EDUCATOR, I want to challenge my colleagues in the field to not just have conversations with like-minds, known subjects and methods, familiar conferences, etc., but to embrace professional development opportunities that push us out of our comfort zones. (Please substitute Jewish educator for whatever field you’re in.)
10. Community helps both Ground and Springboard at the same time:  (this is the safety net to #9)  Face it: it’s hard to go into unchartered, unfamiliar territory.  I was WAY overwhelmed going to SXSW Interactive.  We ROI’ers everyday had a Meet-Up which served to both ground and springboard me at the same time.  I shared connections I’d made, helped other people, heard their take on sessions or presenters I was considering attending to help me make my decision, and just laughed and experienced familiarity for a moment.  This safety net motivated me to take risks.  The shared background and shared experiences/language we had from ROI actually helped me push my own comfort zone!

HeartRock…

I am often asked

How can you be a professional Jewish Rock performer AND a worship/spiritual facilitator?  Don’t those two jobs conflict with each other?

After all, performance is about being on stage, center of attention, while being a Worship/Spiritual facilitator is about helping others connect to the divine, the universe, themselves.  How can one person do both?

While the circumstances of both can feel really different, they do cross over for me.  It has to do with where the songs come from and how they’re created.

For me, at the center of writing both is a Lev Tahor – a Pure Heart.

When I write music, whether it’s a rock tune or a meditative prayer, it comes from the same place – clearing and cleaning out my heart to allow for messages and inspiration to come through.  And trust me, a lot can cloud and clutter one’s heart.

write what they’re going to like

write something that is going to be popular and unforgettable

write something that no one else has done – make sure it’s unique

write something that’s going to sound trendy

write something that’s NOT going to sound trendy

write something that the boys will like

write something the girls will dig

write something that everyone can sing along to

These messages all dance around in my heart at the same time, deafening!  Some self-imposed, some spoken by others around me.  And it’s hard to break through that noise to get to what is supposed to come out.

So I like to spend a little time before I write, to clean and purify my heart.  To make sure I’m listening to the quiet voice, the Kol D’mahmah, inside of me that, though quiet, is true and honest.

The truth is, as a writer, when I try to write with those other messages, it ends up being “ok” music.  When I write with a pure heart, a Lev Tahor, it usually hits the bullseye.

What are the ways that you are able to have a pure heart in the rocking, writing and performing that you do?

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