Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

In Memory of my mom, Miriam Walt

Posted by rabbibrian on November 24, 2009

Today is the 11 th yahrzeit (anniversary of the death) of my mom, Miriam Walt.  As I have thought of her over the past few weeks it is music and specifically, her love of folk music that comes to mind.  In her 60’s my mom learned guitar and loved to play folk music: Malvina Reynolds, Peter Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and many others.  She loved that music as it reflected her values, the core values that she passed down to us: love, family, simplicity, joy, peace.  Although she lived with her sister in an upper middle class suburb in New York, she knew how possessions could distract you from the important things in life.  She could fit everything she owned into a suitcase.   She would love to belt out Janis Joplin’s  “Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” at social events often embarrassing members of the family.

In September my family went for the first time to the Newport Folk Festival.  It was the 50th anniversary of the festival and it ended with amazing performances by Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Pete Seeger.  It was such an inspiring concert ending with

Pete Seeger Newport Folk Festival 8.09

Pete playing with along with his grandson, Tao Rodriquez (see above) and whole slew of talented next generation musicians.  They sang songs about the war in Afghanistan and other current issues.  I thought of my mom then as I did when we recently watched the amazing movie Pete Seeger: The Power of Song.  The movie is so joyful and inspiring.  I encourage you to see it, I am sure it will inspire you to focus on what is important in life.

As I remember my mom today I am so grateful for the life wisdom she passed on to me: to focus on the important things in life not on achievement or possessions, to act with integrity, to be kind and just, and, to sing.

Since she died the following words of Mary Oliver have always touched me deeply.

To live in this world, you must be able to do three things:

To love what is mortal;

To hold it against your bones, knowing your whole life depends on it;

and, when the time comes

To let it go, to let it go, to let it go.

I invite you to do something that brings you joy today (sing, dance, listen to music)  in honor of my mom.  Her memory is truly a blessing for all of us.

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One Response to “In Memory of my mom, Miriam Walt”

  1. louis frankenthaler said

    My Dad took me to see Pete when I was about 12 years old. He played in Red Bank NJ at the time. Since then I saw him here and there, at Clearwater festivals, etc. His music – I would say – guides me in a way… It is with American folk music and the way that American folk music really is not American at all, but world music that we are taken beyond our own particularisms. When we can think of the “Garden Song” as being a MASHAL for the way we need to raise our own gardens, our children, our communities, etc. then it takes us beyond the narrow ontological states that the tyrants and tyrants in waiting among us would have us think we need to be. The Occupation is that ontological state of being that Netanyahu, Lieberman, Barak and Peres have conditioned the world into accepting… now conning us with the Netanyahu Freeze…10 month Freeze? Please…it is the same thing… settlement building in East Jerusalem, expulsions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem… No building new homes in the settlements, so what when you continue to build schools, kindergartens, public buildings…

    To paraphrase Pete: If you miss me at the in the settlement-made-bantustan and you cannot find me nowhere, come on over to a Free Palestine/Free Israel… I’ll be living over there.

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