Yom Chadash: A New Day
IT IS EARLY JUNE, 1982, four-something in the morning. I am in a taxi heading south on the Coastal Road from Haifa to Ben Gurian Airport. I am returning to the States after a year in Israel. I have been living in Haifa, teaching, learning, singing, praying, mingling with Israelis (and mangling their language). In my backpack is a notebook with the music and words of at least 20 new songs. These are troubled days for a country that has fought a war for it's existence every decade of it's 44 years. For weeks now the Israeli army has been massing in the north, waiting for the order to push into Lebanon. There will probably be another war. We are driving south in the sparse early morning traffic. I hear a rumbling sound ahead of us. Within seconds a formation of attack helicopters flying north passes just above our heads. They look ferocious. I can see them through the windshield and off to my right. There is a roaring sound. I look backward to see the choppers becoming tiny dots. The sound dies away. I think about the songs in my notebook. One of them is a new melody for the prayer Oseh Shalom. "Maker of peace in the heights, make peace for us, for all Israel, and say, Amen." This simple, ancient, ageless plea concludes no less than three longer prayers said by Jews many times throughout the day, every day. One of them is the Mourner's Kaddish. Another is the blessing after a meal. Yet another is the prayer called HaT'filah, which means 'The Prayer.' I wonder if it is mathematically conceivable (perhaps even probable?), that Oseh Shalom is being read, said, sung, chanted, played, hummed, mumbled or imagined by someone, somewhere in the world, every breathing moment of every single day. I am thinking my new melody silently in my mind. It needs to be finished. I need to fix the chords, I need to practice it, sing it, teach it, and hear it back before I decide if it's a keeper. If it is, I will record it, with a dozen or so other songs from my notebook, in a studio, with a band, and it will be the musical diary of my year in Israel. It is now five in the morning. I try to nap but the taxi's radio is beeping. The driver turns it up to hear the news. A stream of Hebrew gushes out of the radio and I am trying to understand. I have a very long flight ahead of me. Tomorrow will be a new day.