Haunting Eicha Recording

Every once in a while, someone finds a creative way to use an ancient text or practice to see something in the present more profoundly. When done well, this elevates the present through a thoughtful link to longstanding traditions. It’s rare, usually attempts are stilted or out-of-place. But occasionally it works and when it does, it outweighs dozens of awkward non-synergies.

A few years ago Irwin Kula made just such a creative linking. A book had recently come out relating the last messages of 9/11 victims and he set those voicemails to Eicha trope.

It is among the most haunting presentations I have ever encountered. For me, contemplating mortality is a very important spiritual exercise. I try to listen to this recording on 9/11 and tisha b’av. Give it a listen, but be forewarned, this is really really heavy stuff.

If you do listen, take a moment to realize the blessings in your life and their profound fleetingness. Apologies you have been waiting to make, things you have been waiting to say, love you have been waiting to express, injustices you have been scared to confront…enough waiting. Don’t lament, act. We are here but for a very brief time.

Filed under Tisha b'Av

9 Responses to “Haunting Eicha Recording”

  1. Thank you for this.

    Rachel Barenblat · July 30th, 2009 at 10:42 am
  2. In fall 2002, Rabbi Kula delivered this in front of a group of roughly 75 who had gathered at the Aspen Institute for a symposium on art, science and spirituality moderated by Douglas Rushkoff and organized by the Western States Arts Federation (I was communications director of WESTAF at the time).

    This chant was the final word on a brief session focusing on reality and perception that had turned into a conversation on our common narratives as humans, across divides of religion and culture. I can tell you that when Kula finished, the room was completely silent and there were very few dry eyes left. Particularly so soon after 9/11, this was one of the more powerful moments at the summit.

    FYI, much of the rest of the summit is pretty interesting, particularly the rest of this session with Kula, graphic novelist Grant Morrison, scientist and historian Muzaffar Iqbal, writer David Pescovitz, and astronomer Trinh Xuan Thuan. For the complete proceedings of the summit, go to:

    Gregg · July 30th, 2009 at 11:59 am
  3. Omg.I am shaken. A stroke of artistic genius.

    i love jewschool · July 30th, 2009 at 8:17 pm
  4. A day late for Tisha B’av, but…devastating. Deeply moving. Thanks for the link.

    Ayajewhuasca · July 31st, 2009 at 8:18 am
  5. I made it for like 30 seconds before losing it. oy.

    T · July 31st, 2009 at 10:50 am
  6. Indeed, I still get teary eyed whenever I listen to this.

    zt · July 31st, 2009 at 11:42 am
  7. Thanks for the background Gregg. Glad to know more about the provenance of this piece. I searched for a while and couldn’t track it down.

    zt · July 31st, 2009 at 11:43 am
  8. No matter how many times I have listen I still can bear the last 30 seconds.This has been the best find on jew school yet and I thank you. It will serve as a great reminder that despite all the rxing we still have emotions.

    i love jewschool · July 31st, 2009 at 2:13 pm
  9. [...] For most of us, September 11th has become just another day on our calendars. Though we may remember our own experiences on September 11th, 2001, the intense terror of that day has waned considerably. Memorials are smaller as we all, for reasons of all kinds, move forward with our lives. But I hope we’ll all take a few moments today to think about those who died in those planes and towers. If you’re looking for a memorial text, or something to help you focus your thoughts, I recommend these recordings by Rabbi Irwin Kula. Rabbi Kula set the last messages of 9/11 victims to Eikha trope, and the results are incredibly effective and horrifically sad. (HT Jewschool). [...]

    Remembering the Victims of September 11th » Mixed Multitudes – My Jewish Learning: Exploring Judaism & Jewish Life · October 3rd, 2011 at 10:42 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik