This blog was written by Sam Saxe-Taller, a member of the Tivnu 8 cohort from Berkeley, California. He enjoys playing guitar, cooking, and Ultimate Frisbee. Sam has been a songleader at his camp and youth group for four years. He interns at Kindness Farm, Tivnu construction, and Flora NW.
I would say that I live my life with musical accompaniment. I usually have music in my head and many of my strongest memories are set to song. In that spirit, I want to share a few moments in my Tivnu life that are defined by the music I am playing.
Carrying a handful of pruners, loppers, knives, and hedge shears, I walk into the garage where Robert, the property manager at Kindness Farm, has his shop. I plug my phone into the speakers and shuffle a folk music mix. At some point this song comes up. It fits the shop, cold and dry, with the intermittent patter of rain on the roof. Sometimes the music mixes with the whir of the grinding wheel and the screech of the wire brush attachment scrubbing the rust off of the neglected and rusted old tools. The work develops a rhythm, putting a new edge on the de-rusted blades, first with the flat file, then Robert’s well-used oil stone. I put the pieces back together and lubricate the joints with motor oil from an oil can.
More than anything else, getting to sing makes Shabbat feel like Shabbat to me. Most weeks I lead singing for our kabbalat shabbat and I like to start with “Into the West.” Joyful singing like this reminds me of the teaching I learned the past summer that sometimes the most magical part of a song is the pause after it ends. A mainstay of our repertoire is this version of “Shir Chadash,” a tune I’ve loved since childhood. I am delighted that it caught on here at Tivnu. Getting to sing together every week makes me feel connected to the community here and it is one of my favorite moments every week.
“I Drink Wine” – Adele
Our jam-packed van gets stuck at a railroad crossing on our way home from doing construction work at a tiny house village for people experiencing houselessness one afternoon. Restless after several minutes of waiting, a few of us make predictions of when the train will finish passing. Then someone puts on this song. Suddenly the entire van is belting out “We can love each other for free” and swaying to the rhythm. Now it doesn’t matter so much how long we wait for the train to pass because we have music and each other.
Singing in the van is a counterpoint to the intense work of the day and is great bonding time for the cohort.