The Wonders of This World

Discovering music I never thought I'd get to know

Thank goodness for Google.

Yidden leaving the velt any time before 1998 must have had a much harder and less integrated outlook on what it means to be frei in the 21st century. I shudder to think about my prospects or how my life might have been so very different had I stayed away in the 1990s, not coming back after my parents begged. Would I be successful? Would I be able to function as well now if I didn’t have the internet? I don’t think so.

There are a lot of reasons why I came back, but chief among them was an inability to create an understanding of the new world around me. Sure, if I had stuck around I maybe could have integrated more. Thinking back, it was the single biggest barrier to stay. I had very few marketable skills. My shtetl-infused dialect screamed uneducated, and I didn’t have an ounce of street smarts. I was naïve, I was young, and I made choices I shouldn’t have.

Fast forward over a decade later, and suddenly the world was at my fingertips. I could learn how to talk, learn about job opportunities, learn about music – all in secret. In front of my family, English was rarely spoken. On the internet, I was transported to lecture halls at the greatest universities on the planet. I could learn about history – real history – for the first time in my life and not have it linked back to a Biblical or Jewish event. I practiced under my breath, shedding shtetl layers and training myself to adopt a generic, middle of the road accent.

And the music. My goodness, the music. From the acoustic and nonsensical ramblings of Bob Dylan to the hurt, angry ranting of Eminem, I would listen as often as I could. Some tunes I recognized, stupidly thinking the artists who used them thought our yiddish composers were so great they had to make goyishe versions of their songs. Music was poetry and meaning wrapped into a four minute package. I could lose myself in the lyrics of Adele, lyrics that spoke directly to my neshoma and were the soundtrack of a long, dark winter punctuated with a mass of brightness in my life.

I learned that there were other yidden out there. Searching for meaning, building communities of their own. I devoured blog posts of those who had left and re-read them to form a road map to leave. I found a group close to me, a wonderful, caring, generous group of secular Jews who were willing to help. Wanted to help. Begged to help.

And I finally let them.

Thank G-d for the internet. It saved my life.


4 responses to “The Wonders of This World

  1. The internet really is as dangerous as they say. It’s all the information in the world at your fingertips, something very dangerous for a society trying to pretend that that the rest of the world is illegitimate.

    > Some tunes I recognized, stupidly thinking the artists who used them thought our yiddish composers were so great they had to make goyishe versions of their songs.

    Check this out:
    It’s my most popular post, by far.

  2. I agree with G*3 – and the Rabbis banning the Internet are absolutely right – if allowed to continue unrestrained the Internet will ultimately destroy Orthodox Judaism. Of course, I once thought this was a bad thing, but with the education and understanding I have gained (from that evil Internet!) I now dont think that’s so bad.

  3. I completely agree with you both. The biggest threat to Orthodox Judaism (and any fundamentalist religion in general) is the internet. Why do you think they made such a big deal of the asifa last year? I think it’s scary for the rabbonim because there’s a great chance their flocks will diminish and they’ll lose whatever power they thought they had been divinely given.

    Anon – my current playlist is scary!

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