The Arty Semite

Bar Mitzvah Boy Serenades Tornado Victims

By Allison Gaudet Yarrow

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy of School of Rock Montclair

Thirteen-year-old Eli Clarke was so moved by the plight of Joplin, Mo. tornado victims, that he took to his string instruments. The Montclair, New Jersey native and Bnai Keshet synagogue member will be a bar mitzvah in November, and for his tikkun olam service requirement, he wrote a song to raise funds to rebuild Joplin. One of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history tore through the town at the end of May, killing more than 100 people and demolishing much of what was the birthplace of Langston Hughes. Clarke knew no one in Joplin, but he still felt moved by the tragedy.

“I saw what they were feeling and I thought I should really help them,” he said.

Clarke imagined an uplifting song, wrote a riff, and approached producer John Ginty, a Grammy-winning musician who has worked with Santana and Sheryl Crow. With his guitar teacher, Mark Dollar, who also has big league experience working with Akon and Justin Beiber, Clarke and Ginty recorded what became “Good Song,” an instrumental mishmash of metal and jazz fusion. Clarke, whose influences include bands like Deftones, Mastadon, and the bassist Jaco Pastorius, plays bass and ukulele on the track.

“Good Song” is a 99-cent download and all the proceeds go to a disaster relief organization founded by the band Linkin Park.

Clarke said that while most of his fellow bar and bat mitzvahs do local volunteer projects — like donating bikes or shoes, he felt compelled to broaden his reach through his love of music.

“I don’t really have any others interests.” he said. “I’m dedicated to music.”

His advice? “Do what you know you’re good at and then you’ll really enjoy it.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Music, John Ginty, Eli Clarke

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90.” Hedy Epstein fled Nazi Germany in 1933 on a Kinderstransport.
  • "A few decades ago, it would have been easy to add Jews to that list of disempowered victims. I could throw in Leo Frank, the victim of mob justice; or otherwise privileged Jewish men denied entrance to elite universities. These days, however, we have to search a lot harder." Are you worried about what's going in on #Ferguson?
  • Will you accept the challenge?
  • In the six years since Dothan launched its relocation program, 8 families have made the jump — but will they stay? We went there to find out:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.