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The Real Stars
Mom with a View

The Real Stars

A few blocks away from the Grammy's, there was even a better show was taking place.

by

The Grammy awards took place in Los Angeles this week. I know nothing of the event except that I'm sure there was the requisite amount of fashion and glitz – and music. In fact, the only reason that I know the Grammy's took place this week was because I attended a lesser known event that was happening a few blocks away.

There was no high fashion at this event. There were no paparazzi or news helicopters. (There was some security due to the nature of the neighborhood!) And there was definitely no "glitz". But there was music – plenty of it. And as far as I'm concerned, it was the place to see the real stars.

This week was the Bais Yaakov (Jewish girls' high school) song and dance performance. The girls had worked for months to prepare. They painted scenery and sewed costumes and baked and decorated cookies to be sold at intermission. And they sang – and tapped – and pirouetted – and acted their way to the type of reward that really counts. They were less professional (although pretty good) but they were all heart.

It was a performance for women only – to preserve their sense of dignity and privacy – and so there was no distracting external goal of fame and honor. Although some girls had the leading roles in the drama and some had long solos in the musical portions, it wasn't about them. There was no career or personal gain at stake so that everyone could participate solely for the pleasure of the experience and to enhance the performance.

There were no grumblings or resentments. Everyone took pleasure in each other's accomplishment. "Wasn't that ballet great?" asked my daughter who was in tap. "Doesn't that girl have a fantastic voice?" asked another who sang softly in the back of the choir. "Isn't she a terrific actress?" asked a friend who had only one line. These girls are not perfect but it seemed a unique moment in time and space where there was no room for jealousy, where the school operated as one.

Although there were auditions for a few parts, any girl that wanted to be in the performance was given that opportunity. The result was the participation of virtually the whole school. This included girls with Down Syndrome (one in dance, one in choir) and a girl in a wheelchair to name a few. This was everyone's show, this was everyone's night.

And while they all certainly gave it their all (did I mention the months of practice and the corresponding months of carpool?), the goal was really to have fun, to forge a deeper school spirit, to create a sense of unity and togetherness, to sanctify the Almighty's name. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the producers of the Grammy's shared those aspirations.

No one watching the Grammy's could have known about this other performance in an old art deco theater down a shuttered street. Perhaps no one watching the Grammy's would care.

How unfortunate, because they've missed out on something precious – watching and hearing people use their God-given talents only to praise Him, the Creator of the world.

Talent is most frequently a vehicle for self-promotion. It's hard to get caught up in the ego when singing about trust in God. The whole theme of the evening was to focus on the kindness of the Almighty and to working on trusting Him, no matter how challenging our situations.

I don't mean to put down the Grammy's but since both events occurred on the same evening, comparisons are unavoidable. And nothing compares with the purity of those high school girls singing and dancing their hearts out about their love of God, the Jewish people and His Torah. They were all winners that night.

Published: February 14, 2009


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Visitor Comments: 16

(16) Anonymous, February 20, 2009 4:35 PM

from a participator

As someone who actually was in the performance which Mrs. Braverman writes about so beautifully, I can tell you that we found it an exhilirating experience to simply express our talents in front of an audience of nearly 3,000 people! The need for extra fame or recognition was (and is) simply not there. And yes, having other girls' fathers, brothers, uncles etc. would have been extremely distracting. The purpose of this performance was to allow Bais Yaakov girls to exhibit their extraordinary abilities while inspiring the women of the community... and I think we definitely accomplished our goal!

(15) Joe, February 20, 2009 2:52 AM

Also to number 14

You are truly an example of the sort of lady that I wrote about from that date. It is interesting that you define freedom as being divorced from sexuality (Tradition considers this a nice thing to do with your spouse). You go on to say that sexuality is everything there is to the outside world and then complain about negativity. The outside world has Beethoven in it. Have you ever been to the symphony? The outside world has giant telescopes that peer into the heavens. Have you ever seen Saturn's rings? Truly a glory of Hashem. The outside world has art. Have you ever seen a Rembrandt... Ohhh, he occasionally has naked people, probably not. The outside world has calculus. Did your Bais Yaakov have the idea that learning math was a good thing, probably not. The outside world has physics and chemistry and biology. I promise no scientific achievement has yet come out of the narrow view you espouse. The outside world has people in it with ideas different than your own. Have you ever tried to learn from them?

(14) cr, February 19, 2009 12:24 PM

to #12

You wrote that you find these programs stifling. I am one of those Bais Yaakov Girls, I have been in concerts in school, and now my children are. What are you saying, that we should have men at these events? You dont really make any sense at all. This is what is so special about our girls, that they can shine in these events without any outside distractions. We Bais Yaakov girls dont feel stifled. We feel free. Its the "free" world, that dont have the Torah that everything is sexually oriented, not our world. Its people like you that take a beautiful thing and try to make it negative. Try to see the positive in things and not knock everything.

(13) Sara Chana, February 18, 2009 4:13 PM

Incredible Privilege

Having been privileged to know so the talented and lovely girls in the observant girls' high school in Orange Connecticut and to be able to get caught up in their wonderful performance, this article really tells it like it should be for every young woman in the world. As a teacher who feels such sympathy for the young women caught up in the negative illusions and strivings of the secular world, my heart breaks for the youngsters, girls and boys, who have to run the secular gauntlet everyday. Sara Chana

(12) Anonymous, February 18, 2009 1:44 PM

find these programs for women stifling

These kinds of programs for girls only leave me cold. Modesty and self-control work both ways, for men and women. Men need to police themselves so that the sight of a woman or her voice does not drive them to sexual distraction. Sorry,we need more help from our Rabbis, so that we don't wind up like the Moslem women who are covered head to toe, and are not allowed any freedom.

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