By Laura Seymour
So often I write about books that must be read, and as a confirmed biblioholic, I will always speak to the power of books. Children’s books in particular hold a special magic in their simplicity and quiet truths.
There is also a special magic to music. Each summer at camp, I marvel at the songs that become everyone’s favorites. Why these songs? Is it the tune or the words? What can we learn from singing a song? There is wonderful Jewish music available for children and adults — perfect for “carpool Judaism,” or singing the songs and then talking about them. (Email me for suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Often we combine books with music. As we enjoy our fall holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah (my personal favorite), I have a great book and a great song for you. During Sukkot we read from the Book of Ecclesiastes, a very heavy book but a must to be read and discussed by grown-ups. Ecclesiastes is also a part of our American culture, thanks to Pete Seeger who wrote in 1961 a tune called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (recorded by The Byrds in 1965). And, yes, there is a children’s book titled “Turn! Turn! Turn!” with a CD and everything.
Here are the words to remind those of us who are old enough to remember the song when it was new, and those who come to camp who sing it every summer. Sing it and share it. (And read the Book of Ecclesiastes; it is definitely a book for pondering!)
TURN! TURN! TURN!
CHORUS: To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under Heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep.
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together.
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping and Youth Services at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.