personal taste

When I first started blogging, I knew very little about the culture I was entering into. Up until that time, I had read blogs that concerned themselves with professional problems and methods that were connected to my work. And I thought that this would be a good method to remain in touch with people I had met abroad, or visitors that I had gotten to know when they came to Israel. As I continued to write, I met many people by way of the internet, and even discovered the pleasure of group discussions with people that I had never met, except by way of blog comments and correspondence. Little by little, I found myself part of a new social community, with its own etiquette and conventions. I made friends, and had contacts, and learned something new all the time. In a way, it was like visiting a new country that I knew nothing about. I made some mistakes. There were things I didn’t understand. And there were thrills too.

my cat, Nechama

Though I’m a fairly conservative person, I moved around from one platform to another in the last seven years. I set up a personal web site to share some of my photography, and then enjoyed the advantages of a commercial platform to continue in that vein, and have also published my personal blog on more than one platform. There were times when I was ‘tagged’ with a request to answer a number of questions, or tell things about myself. I didn’t think there was much point in that, because I already tell what I want to share about myself in the writing of my blog. And when tagged you had to continue the game, asking others to tell about themselves. Well, I certainly didn’t want to do that. Because I feared that I might embarrass someone or inconvenience them. Over the years, this practice has evolved to the giving of awards. And recently I’ve been offered an award…

I like listening to all sorts of music

Though I didn’t feel it was right for me to accept any reward, getting such a request, to tell something about myself that others might not know from reading my writing, was a challenge I was willing to consider. Perhaps it would be a good idea to share my personal taste this once. I have a great love for literature and music. It is difficult for me to share my favorite writer with my English readers, because his writing is in Hebrew, and though he’s been translated to many languages, I have read some of the translations, and just don’t think he comes across in other languages. But I have decided to share one of my favorite story tellers in English. Music is easier to share. It is a language unto itself, and can be universally appreciated.

in a local night club, Tamar

I first studied classical music. I learned to read and write, and learned to play the violin. As a young man, I found many forms of music that I liked very much. But eventually I found the music that most spoke to me, and that is jazz. But of course, like other genres, jazz is a whole world, and there are many subcategories that are included when one speaks of jazz, so you may not be able to guess what sort of music actually excites me, and gives me moments of ecstasy. And I don’t think I could cover it all, even if I were to devote a whole post to just this subject. I have certain favorites that I listen to when I am happy, and others when I’m sad. And some when I want to think… actually there is quite a bit of music that I really love, But I will mention two recordings here, both of which are jazz, and both of which, I think, characterize what I look for in music. The first is ‘Artworks’ by Art Pepper. And the second is ‘A celebration of Hoagy Carmichael’ by Dave McKenna. These are not new recordings. I don’t know whether one can find them in a library these days, or buy them in a store. Maybe you can hear some of their work on youtube. I don’t know. Ah, I found something:

the magic of the sax

I would also like to tell you of a story teller that I love listening to. He is a writer and a lecturer, and has been in a movie film. He is also a podcaster, and you can listen to one of his talks every week. I listen to his podcasts, and they bring me smiles and sadness, and a lot of inspiration. He always reminds me of what I love about human beings… and about the connection that each of us has with all other human beings. His name is Garrison Keillor, and you can find him here: You can also get his podcast here:

a sunny winter day; Nechama looks back

And I think I’ll add one more thing about me. I don’t have to tell you that I have a cat named Nechama, and that we are very close. I’ve written about her many times, and shown you pictures of her. But I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that she really doesn’t like smoking. And when I have a cigarette, she will not hop onto my lap. And if she’s already sitting on my lap, she will hop right off, and sit in another chair. Well, sometimes, I like to be by myself. I get tired of constant attention. And then, I light a cigarette, and look at her with a great innocent expression, as she shakes her head, and gets off my lap, and finds somewhere else to sit.

A few of my friends have asked about the peyot, and I just remembered a graffiti I saw a few years ago, on the subject… I thought it would be worthwhile including that in this post, even though it was photographed in monochrome.



26 responses to “personal taste

  1. Pingback: personal taste | Best Way to Promote Your Blog | BlogHyped

  2. Hi Shimon,
    It’s nice to know a little bit more about you, and I thank you for sharing. One of my favorite writers is Isaac Bashevis Singer. I thought he might be one of your favorites too, but I am just guessing. My cousin gave me a copy of his anthology as a gift when I formally converted to Judaism. I love that book. I also like Mitch Albom; especially “Tuesdays with Morrie.” Have you read it?

    It’s interesting about Nechama and her dislike of cigarettes. Nadia, who is about 6 months old, loves to play in the ashtray (when nothing is burning). She then likes to choose a cigarette butt & walk around with it in her mouth. I find her butts all over the house.

    Garrison Keillor is one of a kind, isn’t he? I like his radio show.

    Well, I am rambling now and there is work to be done.

    Good Shabbos!


    • Hi Susan, I found Isaac Bashevis Singer a very interesting writer. I wouldn’t say he was one of my favorite though. But I loved the ‘Magician of Lublin’ and a few others that he wrote. But he has different styles, and different subjects that interest him… and not of all of them really spoke to me. I’m happy for you that you enjoy that anthology. I read about your conversion on your blog. And it really touched me. As you probably know, we don’t encourage conversion. But when someone makes that commitment, he or she is one of us… in every way. I haven’t read Mitch Albom, though I have heard of him. I’ve had cats that actually enjoyed smoke in the room… but Nechama is different. I guess we all have our separate tastes; our likes and dislikes. And nice to meet another Garrison Keillor fan. Thank you so much for your comment and your Shabbos wishes. Let me wish you a very good week.

  3. It was interesting to learn that you have an appreciation for the saxophone, and for jazz music. I happen to follow the blog of a guy that arranges music for a living and plays the saxophone. He also lives full-time in his RV as he travels around the country with his cat, Emily. I don’t know how to imbed the link, but you can find him at tosimplify dot net. If you go to his homepage, and then click on the tab at the top that says Nomad Tunes, you will find some sample pieces of his work. He also occasionally posts new pieces of music within various blog posts. I find his music very soothing and smooth and calming. I hope you get a chance to check out his blog and to listen to a few of his tunes. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • Hi there, N. Thanks for introducing me to Glenn’s blog. He’s living a very interesting life… something I used to dream of when I was younger. I listened to his music too, and I have to say that it isn’t exactly my taste… but that’s one of the strange things about taste… it is so individual. I don’t usually look for calming in music. Bach is very calming for me… I find religious inspiration in his music. But what I like most about Jazz is the thought,; and the improvisation. Thank you very much for your comment.

  4. I really enjoyed your post, it is lovely to learn more about you. Thank you so much for including the links. I look forward to listening to the podcast.

  5. Thank you for sharing some of the things you like. I am a big fan of Garrison Keillor and had the privilege years ago of attending one of his shows, “The Prairie Home Companion.”

    I especially like the photo of the sax player. Very nice.

    • It doesn’t surprise me, somehow, that you too are a fan of Garrison Keillor. I have the feeling we have other things in common as well. How nice that you had the opportunity of attending one of his shows. So glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. Lovely post – thank you for sharing your insights. And congratulations on your award 🙂

    • I’m glad you liked it, Marina. Awards and prizes of all sorts make me uncomfortable. I do what I do because I like doing it… not just on the blog; in everything I do… and awards of any sort, usually come with strings attached. For me, it’s better without them.

  7. I read your blog because I have a cousin who became a rabbi and is obcessed with religion and Jewish culture (which I have never fully understood) the company I work for is owned by a Jewish family. Your blog helps me understand the culture, religion and I enjoy your photos which enable me to see your enviroment 🙂

    I agree about answering personal questions – I choose what I want to reveal and discuss.

    • I can imagine that it’s a little nerve wracking, having a friend or relative who’s obsessed with religion. I have lived in a religious environment all my life, but it is just one of the aspects of life, interwoven with all the other aspects. I’m glad that I’ve offered you an opportunity to see another view of my religion. And I’m very glad you enjoy the photography. Thank you, GB, for your comment.

  8. Shimon–We started blogging for much the same reasons. Originally it was mainly as a way to keep in touch with people I knew, and, in my case, especially when I went abroad. And, like you, I’ve also been a bit flummoxed at times as it seems to take on a life of its own! I always enjoy your perspective. And I really like your cat!

    • Yes, Jordan, blogland turned into something very unexpected… I have a feeling that we have quite a lot in common. And among them, probably a similar attitude towards animals. In my case, I did a lot of traveling when I was young, and had a great thirst to know the world then… and to understand different cultures. Nowadays, I stay pretty close to home. Thank you for your comment.

  9. This is a lovely meditation on both your own interests and tastes and your discovering how you fit in this great and otherworldly community of bloggers! It’s true that the diversity of kinds-within-kinds of music is immense, even overwhelming, but so rich that one can never tire of it. Jazz is certainly exemplary of that variety–just when I think I have a new favorite style or type or artist I hear another new one that leads me down yet more intriguing paths. Early Music (chant, Renaissance, Baroque, etc) is proving a similar field of surprises and treasures for me. Folk music from a huge number of regions is certainly that way. The list simply grows and grows!

    I got to hear (and briefly, meet) Garrison Keillor when he brought the Prairie Home Companion on the road somewhere–my husband is a musical conductor and friends Mr Keillor’s longtime conductor, who organized our visit. It was clear that what we hear on the radio broadcasts and recordings is very much a true reflection of a deeply genuine storyteller’s soul. Quite the remarkable person, with a distinctive style.

    What an enjoyable post! It’s a delight to get to know more about you. Each time I read such posts by blogging friends it reinforces my sense that we have more in common than otherwise, and yet are so wonderfully individual and complex that it never becomes a bore or unsurprising. I look forward to much more!

    • For a good long and wonderful time in my life, I was a great adventurer. I traveled to the ends of the world, and enjoyed the literature and music of many different peoples. And it was much as you have described your experience with music.I am still grateful for those fine experiences. But as I grew older, I started coming back into myself… bringing with me some of the treasures I had discovered along the way. I have more narrow horizons now; more limited tastes… but I still enjoy this life very much. I can identify with your pleasures. How wonderful that you were able to hear Garrison Keillor in person and even meet him. I truly love him… even though from afar. Since I belong to an ancient culture, whose language is spoken only by a few million people, and not well known or well understood in the world, I try to translate a bit of our culture and our world for the pleasure of others, from whom I have learned so much. It is not easy. I am constantly made aware of huge gaps between the thinking and the values of our different cultures, even though it is claimed that we had a marked influence on the development of western thinking. But for me, dancing between the worlds is a pleasure. Thank you very much, Kathryn, for your beautiful comment.

  10. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Congratulations on your award 🙂 I have never heard of tagging, but probably haven’t been around long enough, and share your sentiments 100%!

    I love your cat, and all your pictures, and I really enjoyed this post. It was great 🙂

    • Thank you very much Noeleen. And thanks for your appreciation of my pictures, and of Nechama. She is a very dear friend. I look forward to our getting to know one another still better.

  11. “Nechama” seems so lovely and so adorable cat. Blessing her. Music is great and I think the only language in th world… Dear Shimon, I am really so glad to meet with you, in your words, I can find myself too. How beautiful and amazing to meet with beautiful people in this fighting world. At the beginning I had no idea what would be…. I was at my desk, with my cat, writing, reading, etc. but now, without passport and visas, etc. I make a great travel in this invisible world… And I feel myself every day a rich one, with all these beauties of the world… and with my beautiful blogger friends. And now, I add your blog too, to my favurite blogs… And I want to share with you one of my favurite musicians, Avishai Cohen, you can find on youtube, especially his “Seven Seas” album. Thank you, have a nice and enjoyable day with your lovely Nechama, with my love, nia

    • Dear Nia, it is a pleasure for me too, to meet you here on the internet… and I have long thought that this is a sort of new world that has become available to human beings; a miracle of our time. Your photography speaks to me. I love the way you play with the images. Thank you for sharing with me Avishai Cohen. I have listened to him. He is very interesting, even if he isn’t exactly my taste. My best wishes to you. I look forward to getting to know you better.

  12. You are welcome dear Shimon. You are so nice. Yesterday, I tried to read all your posts, but sure not finished yet. But I should say this, you are writing so nicely, it is so enjoyable to read you… and also sometimes I can feel and think the same with you too in your posts… You should write a book… Wisely written pieces all of them. I can say, you impressed me so much… I love to to meet with beautiful people in this fighting world. There are so many negative things, events, people in the world, and yes, as you mean, I feel myself lucky that I can meet with these beautiful people… Thanks God. and then thanks for all these people who made me to meet on this invisible world. As you said it is a miracle of our time… Thank you dear Shimon, Thank you. Blessing and Happiness, with my love, nia

  13. Thank you so much for providing me with the link to your “personal taste” post, Shimon! What wonderful insight you’ve provided with this!

    I enjoyed the Art Pepper song a great deal—crisp, tasteful saxophone. I see why you enjoy him! My personal taste in jazz leans towards the “smooth” and fusion branches of the jazz family tree.

    I followed the link for Garrison Keillor (who I am somewhat familiar with) and “A Prairie Home Companion,” and ran right into a familiar name: Chuck Mead. Apparently Keillor and company are going on a cruise and Mead (of Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys) is one of the celebrity guests. I worked with Mead’s mother, Lois Mead, for six years when I was employed by the senior center in Lawrence, Kansas. It is a small world.

    I followed one of your photographs back to your flickr photostream (I hadn’t thought to do that before). I’ve just spent 30 minutes enjoying your images! One of your sets—titled in Hebrew, 28 images, 27 of them black and white—has a lead photo that just jumped out at me. I don’t know why, but I was very taken by that image of the man and woman. But that’s only one image; I will have to come back and spend more time with the others!

    You did your readers a great service by writing this post and letting us move a bit further into your world—thank you so much!


    • And thank you, George for checking out this post. It is a smaller world than it seems at first. When I was traveling in my youth, I found I had a lot in common with peoples in very different cultures. And I suppose that now that we have the internet, it is that much easier to meet different people and get to know different cultures. I know the set you mentioned on flickr. It was an evening spent with this couple, who had been friends for some time, and decided to move in with one another. Meantime, they’ve been blessed with a child. I got to know the woman, because she was the daughter of a good friend of mine, and I see his widow (the mother of this woman) from time to time. The reason the whole set is in black and white, is that they had put some new bulbs in the lamps, and the colors seemed somewhat off, so I decided to avoid the problem by shooting in black and white.

  14. somewhere, over the rainbow – for sure touching our souls …

    • I love the work of Art Pepper. He combines lyricism with an intellectual mastery of the medium. I’ve spent so many hours listening to him.

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