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What’s Going On?

Marvin Gaye

Where is music when the world is spinning too fast, when the sky is crying, when we have lost our way?

Tests of communal will arose this week – all too fast and strong, and almost too big to fathom. Our eyes filled with the sight of friends in Baltimore embroiled in anger and unrest while those in Nepal tumbled as the ground shook and shivered beneath their feet.

Protest music is an expression of communal need to seek clarity and purpose. A protest song steps toward our tests and goes out to greet them, a testament to how we step up to a challenge.

One of our colleagues shared with Sounding Board soul-warrior Marvin Gaye’s plea, now more than 40 years strong, as a reflection on what she believes JCC communities need to be asking of themselves, especially now:

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me, so you can see
What’s going on

Another colleague turned to Bob Marley, a fierce and noble man. Maybe you believe in a master plan and maybe you do not – but what do you hold onto when you cannot believe what you see in a world is turned upside down?:

There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
If you listen carefully now you will hear
This could be the first trumpet
Might as well be the last
Many more will have to suffer
Many more will have to die
Don’t ask me why
Things are not the way they used to be
I won’t tell no lie
One and all got to face reality now

Though I try to find the answer
To all the questions they ask
Though I know it’s impossible
To go living through the past
Don’t tell no lie
There’s a natural mystic
Blowing through the air
Can’t keep them down
If you listen carefully now you will hear
Such a natural mystic
Blowing through the air

We are not pro test. Would that we could just enjoy the quiet on a sunny day. But when tests come, as they always do, what choices remain but to face them? So we step towards these challenges together, never alone.

As you will see below, in Baltimore our colleagues seek to be of use to neighbors and friends, staying safe and joining hands and praying for peaceful and sustainable resolutions. In Nepal, friends stack hands to offer respite however and wherever they can.

And then there’s this from yet another colleague sending a song to Sounding Board – a message from those same boys who said all we need is love: Come together, right now.

How you and your JCC can help:
Our friends and colleagues at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore and the Associated are working with area churches, community centers and civic organizations to collect funds for immediate service to the neighborhoods affected most deeply by the unrest. If you are able to donate your time, contact the Jewish Volunteer Connection (JVC), which is coordinating community involvement in the cleanup effort in partnership with the No Boundaries Coalition.

We have compiled a list of some of the ways that you can help Nepal by supporting organizations in our family of Jewish and Israeli organizations.


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Reader Interactions


  1. I’m entering Shabbat with great sadness. As a “child” of the 1960s and 70s, I thought that we as a nation had matured, that horrific events like the Chicago Democratic Convention, Kent State, Watts, and more were a thing of the past. That Marvin’s song was an anthem of the time, not something we’d be revisiting in 2015.

  2. Thanks for remind us of Marvin Gaye’s words. I have been inspired by all the people here in Baltimore, young and old, black, white, brown, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, who have been speaking out for justice in a peaceful but powerful way. We are hoping that their voices prevail and that change is coming.