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Segregation and Celebration…and Cornerstones

Segregation and Celebration.

If you haven’t seen the news lately, just google Beit Shemesh or click here, or here or here.

In the midst of the CELEBRATION at the URJ Biennial, I added a special song to my set list, one I wrote with Fran Immerman, originally about the Conversion Bill, but more generally about how ALL voices are represented in Israel – particularly those of women.  Particular sects of Charedi (ultra religious) men are creating volatile and generally uncomfortable situations by segregating women, protesting girls getting an education in school and making women walk across the street from men or sit in the back of the bus.

The song’s working title is called “Shma Yisrael” – and joining me onstage with voices rising in solidarity were Julie Silver, Peri Smilow, Chana Rothman and Shira Kline.  

We are currently in the studio recording it with producer Glenn Grossman hopefully launching a video project to show both outrage to the government of Israel and to this Haredi sect as well as solidarity for the people of Israel who are as outraged as we are.

And now…as the calendar moves, so do we all.

I’m off to play with other experiential educators planning the 2012 CORNERSTONE FELLOWSHIP of the Foundation for Jewish Camp ,  A program I created many years ago and have returned to serve as an advisor!  It’s one of the most rewarding and downright fun times of my year!

Just a short week later, I’ll be off to Alaska to serve the Alaskan-Anchorage-based Jewish community as their Artist/Educator in residence at their annual community retreat.

In the midst of all of this, we’re BOOKING THE SUMMER LIKE CRAZY and well into the Fall of 2012 – so if you know a community interested in awesome Jewish Rock, alternative/musical/spiritual worship experiences, Jewish rock programming, girls-self-esteem development and anti-bullying programming, please do connect us to them.

In the meantime, have a great January, happy 2012 and educate yourself about the gender-segregation issues in Israel.  Your voice counts!

Getting excited for my first ever URJ Biennial

I’ve heard about it for YEARS, but have never been…

URJ Biennial. The largest gathering of Reform Jews in the world – once every other year, I presume.

And I was honored with the invitation to perform there!  I simply cannot WAIT.  So here’s a sneak peak.  And for those of you who know about QR Codes I have TWO I’m using on my Gig Promotional Card.  One for a FREE DOWNLOAD and one with a direct link to my BRAND NEW HANUKKAH TRACK: 8 NIGHTS

Hope to see you at URJ Biennial or somewhere else on the road!  Cheers…

Busy fall, before you know it, winter…

I am always amazed by how quickly we move from Summer to winter.  Where did the fall go?

Well, this year, I’m taking notice.

Partially due to the events I’ve been involved with for Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Judaism and partially through the high holiday work I did with SAJ through both main sanctuary and family services with the band this year, I’ve really felt a part of the fall season.  The themes around Yom Kippur and Sukkot – inward work to be the best person you can, and to open your tent to all people – to realize the temporariness of life and hear the call of the shofar, the call to action to do something to help this world – well, I have never felt so immersed in this work as I have this season!

We had an amazing Sukkot concert with CBST as part of their Sukkot Block Party (pic below) and met lots of new friends and supporters there. Tons of humus, good vibes, smiles and of course, a lulav and etrog to shake!  Special thanks to Cantor Josh Breitzer and Lisa Rosenberg for putting together an amazing event!

And NOW WHAT???

Well, there’s lots coming up.

Jewish Chicks Rock will be doing some major writing this fall/winter – new music, new ideas.

In the meantime, the spiritual worship side will take a front seat – with residencies in four NY-based Synagogues. Make sure to check the CALENDAR OF EVENTS or sign up on the mailing list.

But sneak preview:

November: we’ll be at the GA as well as URJ Biennial

December: Springfield, MA community concert

January: Anchorage, Alaska – their annual Jewish community conference

Peace…

Jewel of Elul – Tick Tock

8th of Elul, 5771

This past Sunday, I performed at a house concert in Northbrook, IL.  On my way over, I happened to look out of the car and saw a half-moon shining brightly in the evening sky.  It was a waxing moon. In that moment, as that half-moon lit up the sky, I became particularly aware of the passage of time.  If Bob Dylan sings “Time passes slowly up here in the mountains”, well, I was feeling the exact opposite of that lyric.  Time passes quickly, down here in the city.

It’s the 8th of Elul today, and I am feeling the quick tick-tock of time.  This time of year is a time for introspection, yes, a time to check in and figure out where one missed the mark and commits oneself to improving for the next year, a time to repair relationships that need servicing, between people and between you and God – however you understand the word.

But for me, this time of year is also a time-marker – how quickly time passes.  The sometimes exquisite pressure to get something done before it’s too late.  The excruciating reminder that aging is occurring or that bodies deteriorate.  The urgent knock-knocking on your heart to love SO hard because you never know which day might be one’s last.

I feel this pressure of time acutely this year, especially with a growing number of my inner circle of loved ones suffering from physically debilitating diseases.  I feel the urgency of appreciating the present moment.  I grasp at the clock of time and try, knowing the futility of the action, to slow it down.  I pray for the strength of Today.  The strength to not wallow in yesterday’s nostalgia or fear what tomorrow will bring, but the courage and strength to stay as present in the Today as I possibly can. The famous prayer HaYom T’amtzeinu asks God to help us by making us strong. Elul’s moonlight woke me up to time.  What will it awaken in you?

Jewels of Elul is a project of Craig Taubman.  I am a guest blogger today as part of the Jewels of Elul project.

This year, in addition to guest the blog and guest bloggers, Craig’s company has released a free compilation CD on Amazon.com. My song, “HaYom“, produced by Glenn Grossman, is one of the selected tracks. 

Jewels of Elul! Exciting news…free sampler cd!!

Friends,
read below for some exciting Elul offerings from Craig Taubman  – the month of Elul on the Jewish calendar is a time known for reflection, returning to the important things in life, measuring yourself in terms of “are you the person you wanted to be this year? where did you succeed and where did you miss the mark.”
I’m really SO honored to have one of our pieces as a part of the special free sampler cd associated with this project.  Click here or read on for details on how to get it!
So, in order to get you into the mood…here’s what’s out there for you!
Get Guilt free Inspiration for the High Holy Days from 

Los Angeles, CA – August 17, 2011 –  For the 7th consecutive year, Craig Taubman and Craig ‘N Co. will publish Jewels of Elul Vol. VII, a collection of stories and anecdotes for the Jewish High Holy Days. 29 individuals, one for each day of the month of Elul, will contribute introspection on this year’s theme, The Art of Beginning…. Again

With Jewels from Groupon’s Founder Brad Keywell, artists Eminem, Idan Raichel and Mary J. Blige as well as insights from Rabbis, a Reverend and an Imam (no joke), there is certain to be very unique perspectives on the Art of Seeking Light.

This year’s Jewels of Elul will benefit the work of Beit T’Shuvah, a residential drug treatment facility.  “We are thrilled to share this unique publication for the High Holy Days” says Jewels creator Craig Taubman.   “It is our hope to build on our reach of last year and touch hundreds of thousands of people during this sacred time of year”.

New to the project this year is an Amazon sampler CD. The release contains 15 songs for the High Holy Days from such artists as David Broza, Michele Citrin, Naomi Less, Alberto Mizrahi, and Mare Winningham. We are also excited about our partnership with Milken Archive of Jewish Music.  Every week Jewels of Elul will share music from their incredible library of classic Jewish music. 

For more information or to sign up to receive this year’s Jewels of Elul VII, visit www.jewelsofelul.com.

more press for Jewish Chicks Rock Camp

These girls rock: Summer camp teaches ‘Jewish chicks’ the first notes

Originally published August 12, 2011

Original post-Click Here

By Blair Ames

News-Post Staff

Jewish Chicks Rock camp at Camp Louise

 

With Jewish Chicks Rock, girls aren’t just learning how to play instruments, they’re learning to empower themselves.

“We don’t have a lot of girls playing instruments and being in bands,” said self-proclaimed Jewish rocker Naomi Less. “What happens with that is you only have half of your population really creating the cultural footprint.”

That’s what Less is trying to change.

Through Jewish Chicks Rock, summer campers at Camp Louise in Cascade are given the opportunity to pick up a bass and play a few riffs or sit behind the drums, even if the only music they’ve ever played is a far cry from rock ‘n’ roll.

Jewish Chicks Rock Camp was created by Less and is in its first full year at Camp Louise.

“The philosophy is they play. We help and we coach them, but it’s the process over the product really,” Less said. “How that process is, how they’re working together versus do they get it right — that to me is really important.”

If they miss a few chords, who cares?

“This is what summer camp is all about,” said Glenn Grossman, who helps his wife run the camp.

Camp Louise is a summer retreat founded in 1922 for Jewish girls entering second through 12th grade with sessions ranging from two to seven weeks long. Jewish Chicks Rock ran from July 27 to 30, culminating in a performance at the camp on July 30.

“The energy was electric,” Camp Louise assistant director Shira Kahan said of the concert. “The bands were incredible. The girls really took to the stage like the rock stars they are.”

The three bands of four to six girls performed their versions of “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz, “Firework” by Katy Perry and “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green, but only after rewriting the lyrics. Some girls have previously played instruments, while others just like to sing.

“There’s an opportunity to introduce them to something,” Less said. “We try to offer them the opportunity to reach beyond and to try new things.”

That’s exactly what 10-year-old Jessica Oblom did when she picked up a bass guitar at camp rather than sit behind a piano, which she’s played since she was 4.

“I didn’t really decide to try a new instrument, I just wanted to play the thing I’m best at, piano and a little bit of drums,” she said.

“And then I came here and now I like the bass.”

The “camp within a camp” structure allows girls to experience all Camp Louise has to offer, while spending an hour and a half each day practicing and writing music.

For Less, coordinating the weeklong session is a dream come true.

“I’ve been on a high all week,” she said.

Less grew up singing while studying the piano and violin, both appropriate instruments for a girl, she said sarcastically.

But when she turned 21 and moved into an apartment, she had nowhere to put a piano. So she picked up a guitar and taught herself to play. She wrote her first song when she was 22 and hasn’t stopped since.

Although she has played in “secular” bands, Less said she couldn’t help but write Jewish content.

“My music basically invites audiences into something that is extremely listener-friendly,” she said. Her music explores ideas, beliefs, prayer and spirituality through a Jewish mindset, she said.

Less has traveled coast to coast performing and as far as Israel.

Although she now inspires girls in the same situation she was once in, Less gives a lot of credit to her role models such as Judy Chicago and Debbie Friedman, who stepped into fields dominated by men but were successful.

“I very humbly stand on their shoulders,” she said.

About 900 girls will participate throughout this year’s summer sessions at Camp Louise, Kahan said. Fifteen of them, from fourth to 12th grade, participated in Jewish Chicks Rock.

Kahan and Less hope the camp will catch on and become an annual program at Camp Louise.

“The more interest we get, the more the campers learn to love this and to think of this as part of camp, the more we can expand it,” Kahan said. “The sky is the limit once you start things.”

new press – from Puget Sound’s “Soundly Jewish”

Friends,

Part of the summer tour included a visit to Camp Solomon Schechter, an amazing Jewish community camp outside Seattle – Olympia, WA to be specific.

We had an amazing time working with the kids and then rocking out in front of a beautiful lake-side outdoor ampitheater!

Here’s some press that came out of that experience!

Here’s a link to the article (pdf)

“Soundly Jewish”

or in regular text below…

To read the whole article about Camp Solomon Schechter, visit this website

Thanks for reading and the support!

A ‘Jewish chick’ who rocks

Naomi Less and her band rehearse

We were able to sit in at the CSS amphitheater as Jewish rocker Naomi Less and her band, on tour from their base in Brooklyn, rehearsed the evening’s entertainment. They were working up “Shout ’em Out (1 to 10),” a song about the 10 commandments (check out the cartoon video). When they took a break, they played “CSS Forever” on the sound system, a collaborative song-writing and production project they’d just completed with some of the campers.

The band includes Less (co-writer, lead singer and guitar), Shahar Mintz (lead guitar), Ziv Shalev (bass and vocals) and Glenn Grossman (drummer, co-writer, music producer and Less’s husband). They released their first CD, The Real Me, last March. We caught them in the midst of their summer Jewish camp tour, stopping at CSS between Baltimore and “BB Camp” (B’nai B’rith Camp) in Lincoln City, Ore.

“First and foremost I’m a Jewish educator,” Less told us, engaging kids in exploring their identities through music. Through her Jewish Chicks Rock project, she aims to “empower younger girls” as a role model and through a proactive program. She considers herself a Jewish feminist, grateful for the progress made by Jewish women before her. Last Pesach she led a University of Washington Hillel Seder in Seattle, an “inclusive Seder with a feminist lens.”

for all women (or future women) who ever thought about starting a business

This is SO exciting.

My very best friend in the whole wide world – AMY ABRAMS – who I admire and respect (not just because there is really no one who can make cry laughing more consistently for so many years)  because of the amazing career she has built for herself – well, she is coming out with a BOOK!  Yes, a BOOK – and here’s the best part.

It’s all about WOMEN BUSINESS OWNERS and how to build a strong company that fits YOUR needs!!!!

Amazing.

It’s like part workbook, part self-help, part business strategy…I can’t say enough about it.  I’ve read many parts of it already and even just purchased one of my very own TONIGHT!

Talk about an amazing JEWISH FEMALE ROLE MODEL!  

If this has sold you – click to Pre-order a book .

If you want to hear more, read below in her words!!

On the exciting news front, my book, The Big Enough Company is coming out in 6 weeks – yeah!  In case you haven’t heard me talk about the book (which would be hard to believe) it is fundamentally about how to build a business that meets your needs and keeps you satisfied over time. But it is also about so much more.  The book discusses the opportunity of entrepreneurship and how you can use that opportunity to create work on your own terms. With the explosion of people starting their own business today, we wrote the book to offer examples, advice and our philosophy about  the many ways one can be creative in growing a business that takes into consideration your needs (i.e. Flexibility, autonomy, financial reward). There is no one size fits all when it comes to running and growing a business. That’s what makes it so much fun! While I realize that not all of my friends have their own business, I know that many aspire to one day. The book will be very helpful in considering what you would like your business to look like in the future. There is also great value for those in the corporate world as increasingly, you need to manage your career as a business in today’s economy. In any event, I hope that you will purchase the book with the intention of learning, not just because I wrote it! 

As you may know, pre-sales are VERY important to book sellers as they give an indication of the future demand for the book. I am reaching out to my friends to ask them to pre-order a copy today and help spread the word!  In addition, we are running a promotion for the next week called The Big Enough Company Business MakeoverThe winner will receive over 8 hours of free business consulting (social media, business, productivity, sales and more!). In order to enter, participants will need to pre-purchase the book. 
How can you help?
  1. Pre-order a book 
  2. Forward this email to friends who have businesses or aspire to have a business
  3. Tweet / Post on Facebook about your support of the book!

Thanks you in advance for your support!

 

Best,

Amy

Amy Abrams

entrepreneur, author, speaker

book: The Big Enough Company: Creating a business that works for you (Portfolio/Penguin, Sept 2011)

biz: In Good Company

View The Big Enough Company Video Trailer


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Sum(mer) Up – take a breath before the hi-ho madness begins again

Summer’s not over yet, but last night, the Jewish Chicks Rock Summer 2011 Tour officially ended.

This is the third summer traveling around to do music, spiritual, gender and general Jewish educational work!
So before Shabbat comes in and I forget that this summer ever happened (as I go into intense Storahtelling training this month) I wanted to say THANK YOU to the countless campers
  • who sang,
  • who opened up their hearts to another person,
  • who found THE REAL ME in themselves and let their voices speak out loud,
  • who made commitments to try and minimize judgment,
  • who took risks and created original music or tried an instrument and rocked it HARD!
And thanks especially to all of the campers, staff and administration who rocked out at our concerts!
What truly amazing spirit I witnessed as I traveled across the country.
This year we developed several NEW products/workshops for the camps.
–JEWISH CHICKS ROCK CAMP pilot at Camp Louise – building 3 amazing bands with girls with little to sometimes no experience!  (We’re looking to scale this up next year and try it in a few camps!)
–rhythm workshops (mostly for boys)
–girls workshops around “looks of judgement”
–New Jewish music taught out
–bullying workshop
–recording/production workshop – creating innovative soundscapes based on Jewish prayer or expression
and of course we kept the successful ones from last year
– killer rock concerts
– collaborative songwriting and recording
– the “Real Me” workshop for girls
– songleading training
Whew…
So, a breath – just to say – wow, THANK YOU!
How grateful I am that this is the life I get to lead and that it involves all of us.
How amazing that this summer really happened!
Stay tuned for videos, and some high holiday music! (Noooooo, not yet!  summer’s not over yet!)

Jewish Chicks Rock camp article – Baltimore Jewish Times

Friends,

Here’s an article that came out about the program.  This is so exciting.  If you know communities during the year, or camps that would want to try this program next year, send them to jewishchicksrock@gmail.com!

Click for a larger version of the article, or for plain text, read below.

Baltimore JT-Article – Rock Camp July 2011