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We All Get Another Chance

Yisroel Besser

When the iconic Diaspora Yeshiva Band regrouped for a reunion concert at Lincoln Center this winter, it was more than just a nostalgic trip down the musical memory lane of the ’70s and ’80s. It was a fusion of a force that was the background music to the early teshuvah movement. Saturday nights on Mount Zion don’t rock like they used to, but those chords are still vibrating a generation later.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The camaraderie in the second-floor dressing room at Lincoln Center is straight out of a yeshivah dorm: two white-bearded rabbis are stretched out on the couches, and a bouncy chassid is twirling in the middle of the room. Group leaderAvrahamRosenblumis sprawled out on a chair, directing a flow of teasing about middle-aged weight gain, trading lighthearted barbs with beloved old friends — saxophonist RabbiSimchaAbramson, drummerGedaliaGoldstein, violinist Ruby Harris, and guitaristMenachemHerman.

There is a knock on the door with a reminder that it’s time for the sound check and final practice run. The energy coursing through the concert hall with just minutes remaining until the curtain will rise on this year’s HASC 27 concert has seeped in through the open doorway, and the tempo in the room is upped by several notches. A few more stretches and yawns and the men rise to their feet, ready to rock.

It sounds like a joke: What do you get when you put a Breslover, a Lubavitcher, a Litvishe maggid shiur, aBaltimore businessman, and aChicago blues violinist in a room? But the answer is utterly serious — in its own way, the Diaspora Yeshiva Band really is a microcosm of the Diaspora itself. 

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