August 21, 2008
‘Jewels of Elul’ offers candidates’ wisdom
What is the dream of the future president of the United States?
For the answer, check out your e-mail or a pocket-sized, 36-page booklet called “Jewels of Elul IV,” which is subtitled “29 Dreamers and Their Dreams.”
Others include Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Muslim artist Salman Ahmad, Mars Phoenix project leader Barry Goldstein and philanthropist Lynn Schusterman.
Craig Taubman, spiritual folk rocker, composer and producer, who has written and played the songs of his people for 30 years, conceived the project four years ago.
It started when Taubman was commissioned to write a song for Elul, the 29-day-long month of the Hebrew calendar, during which Jews are to meditate and look within themselves in preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Among the first to respond to Taubman’s requests for submissions this year were Obama and McCain.
The month of Elul runs this year from Sept. 1-29 and Craig ‘n Co., the publisher of “Jewels,” would release only excerpts from the various responses.
Obama’s reads, “We must reclaim that basic American Dream for all Americans—the idea that if you work hard, you can support a family; that if you get sick, there will be health care you can afford; that you can retire with the dignity and security you have earned; and that every American can get a world-class education.”
The McCain excerpt reads, “As we look to the future, it is helpful to remind ourselves that there is no problem or challenge we cannot overcome together.”
In a lighter vein is the Dershowitz excerpt, “I almost never dream. On that rare occasion when I do, it’s the typical dream that Freud would be proud of. I fly through the air.”
An unexpectedly somber thought came from Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks: “Dreams aren’t all fluff and pastels. Dreams can hurt. Dreams can make incredible demands on us. And, unlike in animated movies, dreams don’t always come true.”
Taubman, 50, sent out requests to five to 10 potential contributors at a time and then waited to see how many responded and impressed the judges before sending out the next batch.
The only limitation is that the submission be 250 words or less, and Taubman tries to roughly balance the final picks by gender and age.
Costs of the project are underwritten by different foundations. Last year’s edition featured the theme of “Inspirations of Hope and Healing.” It was sponsored by the American Committee for Shaare Zedek and included such contributors as Elie Wiesel, the Dalai Lama, Kirk Douglas, Deepak Chopra and Rabbi Harold Kushner.
The upcoming edition is sponsored by the Stefan Adelipour for Life Foundation, in memory of Adelipour, a 22-year old Boston University senior who lost his life in a fire.
Keeping up with the Internet times, Taubman will send out one message a day by request via e-mail, starting Sept. 1 and continuing for the next 28 days, without charge.
Taubman said he gets no payment for the considerable time he puts in on the project, though it doesn’t hurt him in spreading his name and drawing attention to his numerous record albums and countrywide concerts.
“I love doing this,” he said. “It’s my favorite mitzvah.”