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Monday, October 04, 2004

Chabad vs Chabad

Milwaukee is a small town, as far as Orthodoxy is concerned. We have one boys High School. One girls school. One bakery. No pizza place.
But we have 2 Chabads. (Well, three, if you count the Messianic place, but they're in cherem now).

And, of course, they don't quite get along with each other. They compete for "resources" (ie affluent congregants). The youth director from the "new" Chabad saw us at our recent gig, and asked us to come and "rock out" his sukkah. So I gave him a price. Which he didn't care for too much apparently, since I never heard back from him. He was thinking more along the lines of "free food." Which musicians always appreciate, but not in lieu of cash money.

Oddly though, shortly after my last conversation with him, I got hired to play at the "old" Chabad. In 13 years of living here, I've never once been asked to play there. As my friend David Margulis says, "Ayn Tzadik be-iro (there's no righteous person in his own town)."

So we played there last night, and had quite a good time. We played with a few locals, going through the usual dinner and dance tunes (circa 1960). I got a little slap-happy with the bass (all that time in the music store is paying off). They kept plying us with liquor. At one point, when the Rabbi was telling his story, and I was playing a little background guitar, I felt the room spin a little. I turned to the singer, and we both started giggling.

At the end I asked if we could play some of our own stuff. So my guitarist did his version of Tzama. The younger guys really got into it. The elder Rabbi did not seem to enjoy it as much. My guitarist looked like he regretted the decision almost as soon as he started playing it, but being a pro, he kept going. Afterwards they asked for more, so we did our Carlebach/Beck jam.

They've already booked us for next year. Maybe we'll get free food. Anyway, tonight we're at Beth Jehudah.

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