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August 31, 2006 - Image 70

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-08-31

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Arts & Ent:rt:inment

Playing
Abraham's
Music

Former Oak Parker employs an
imaginative approach in encouraging
spiritual responses to life.

Rabbi James. Stone Goodman plays the oud on his porch: "I focus on how we are

similar and what is common among us, and we can find that in music," he says.

Suzanne Chessler
Special to the Jewish News

ames Stone Goodman has built
a career as a rabbi, singer-song-
writer, journalist and teacher,
but he is about to visit Michigan without
any of the tangibles linked to his profes-
sional achievements.
Instead, Rabbi Goodman, based in St.
Louis, returns for the 40th reunion of his
Oak Park High School class — taking
a brief break from the two synagogues
where he works, the performances and
recordings that showcase his musical tal-
ents and the newspaper that carries his
columns.
"I've been to all my reunions," says
Rabbi Goodman, 57, who moved to
Missouri after completing Hebrew Union
College in Cincinnati. He returns to the
Detroit area often to visit family and
friends. "I grew up in a strong neighbor-
hood and really felt connected to this
group of people
Rabbi Goodman, who was not neces-
sarily enthusiastic about the Jewish
studies experiences he had while living
in Oak Park, will tell former classmates
about some non-traditional religious
approaches he has developed.
"My congregation, Neve Shalom, was
founded on non-denominational prin-
ciples," says Rabbi Goodman, who had
his bar mitzvah at Temple Israel but also
attended United Hebrew Schools and went
to services at what is now Young Israel of
Oak Park.

54

August 31 • 2006

"I've studied with many different
played with musicians from those areas
the previous ones, on his Web site,
teachers and had many different influ-
of the world. I learned a new instru-
www. stonegoodman.com .
ences and inspirations before and after
ment, the oud, and began to feel that I
"A lot of my subjects are about mak-
leaving Michigan, and my congrega-
was playing the music of Abraham."
ing peace in the sense of integrating
tion is characterized by an imaginative
As he enlarged his career in the rab-
something deep that we've forgotten
approach to Judaism. We are affiliated
binate, Rabbi Goodman enlarged his
about politically," the rabbi-writer-com-
with the Jewish Renewal Movement!'
music by composing melodies and writ- poser says. "It's about what connects us
The future rabbi was studying the clas-. ing lyrics that called upon his poetic
with people who are like us and not like
sics — Greek and Latin philosophy and
interests. His most recent CD, The Book us. I focus on how we are similar and
languages — at Arizona State University
of Splendor, has to do with healing. It
what is common among us; and we can
in Phoenix when he had a spiritual awak- is his fifth recording and available, with
find that in music."
ening and decided to
explore Judaism in
Israel. Just as he did in
Michigan, he sought
New photo book capture's past 60 years of Jewish life in Metro Detroit.
out a range of obser-
vances, from Chasidic
to Sephardic.
Suzanne Chessler
Detroit suburbs grew.
city. At the time, Arcadia also
"While I was in
Special to the Jewish News
The author identifies the
was looking to publish the
Israel, I was intro-
locales of the religious institu-
Detroit book, and that actually
duced to a different
abbi James Stone
tions and events he shows,
was closer to my heart."
kind of music than
Goodman, besides
but names of the people in the
The book captures activities
I had ever heard,"
establishing his
pictures are seldom provided.
to help Soviet Jewry, bring
Rabbi Goodman
identity through personal writ- His focus moves from Detroit
together college students,
recalls. "I had been
ing projects, gets public atten- and even crosses the interna-
launch senior apartments and
a pretty typical
tion through a writing project
tional border into Windsor.
raise funds for social causes
American musician
of Barry Stiefel.
"My inspiration for writing
through Federation programs.
playing jazz and blues
Rabbi Goodman's bar
the book was really more of
"I contacted and worked
on guitar and singing,
mitzvah photo is featured
an alternate project," says
with congregations, local
but that changed after
in Stiefel's newly released
Stiefel, an Ann Arbor native
archives and special individu-
I heard the music of
book, The Jewish Community
who works as an architectural
als across the area that had
North Africa and the
of Metro Detroit 1945-2005
historian for a firm in San
amassed pictorial collections,"
Middle East.
(Arcadia Publishing; $19.99).
Francisco.
says Stiefel, who studied at
"The music got
The publication is another
"I originally was supposed
Michigan State University,
inside of me, and I
book in a photo series that
to do a book on the Garden
Eastern Michigan University
felt that I was hearing
encapsulates community his-
District in New Orleans.
and the University of Michigan
sounds I recognized.
tories. In this case, the focus
However, Hurricane Katrina
and is working toward a doc-
I found teachers and
is the Jewish presence as
hit, and I had to evacuate the
torate in historic preservation

Preserving Our Heritage

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