From pop charts to your machzor: songs for the High Holy Daysby binyamin kagedan, jns.org
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To put you in the mood for introspection, repentance and renewal — and make you smile — here are the top five songs that should be on every High Holy Days playlist:
2. “Man in the Mirror” (Michael Jackson) Back from the time when Top 40 songs were still allowed to have simple moral messages, the prince of pop reminds us that changing the world must begin with changing oneself. As with the silent confessions of the Yom Kippur musaf, the High Holy Days are a time to give our friends and family a break and turn our critical eye to the person looking back at us in the mirror.
3. “Getting Better” (The Beatles) A golden oldie about turning things around: “Man, I was mean, but I’m changing my scene and I’m doing the best that I can,” Paul McCartney sings. Sometimes we lose faith in our ability to grow out of lifelong patterns of getting hurt and hurting back, but the song insists that change is always possible when we open our hearts and truly listen to our loved ones.
4. “Please Forgive Me” (Bryan Adams) This one’s about saying sorry for loving too much, rather than too little. After all, don’t many of our conflicts come from holding on too tight? Not to mention the heart-wrenching power of Adams’s voice, which moves the listener like good chazzanut (liturgical Hebrew prayers sung in traditional melodies) ought to.
And a few more just for fun:
“Oops I Did It Again” (Britney Spears) This song marked the original pop princess’ transition from ingénue to femme fatale. Perhaps it can inspire those of us who walk around feeling ethically spotless to remember that we all make the same mistakes (and usually twice).
“On Bended Knee” (Boys II Men) Those of us Jews who are not football players (so, all of us) only take a knee once a year — during the Yom Kippur musaf service, when cantors, rabbis and often whole congregations bow down in unison to commemorate the ancient temple service.
“Wake Me Up When September Ends” (Green Day) For the shul-shluffer — i.e. synagogue sleeper — in all of us.
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