Grease, Grace, and Gratitude

Last Saturday, I attended a concert by Olivia Newton-John. While I expected to hear some of my favorites from Grease and Xanadu and her other best-selling songs, I didn’t expect to be so moved by her current introspective music featured on her latest cd “Grace and Gratitude.” I also didn’t expect that Jewish themes would run throughout much of the music, including musical interludes that were named according to the mystical sefirot. Nor did I expect to hear Jewish liturgical and biblical texts woven into her songs. Then when she told the audience that the cds were being distributed along with women’s breast health products at Walgreens drug store, I knew that she had discovered the power of public spaces.

So here is what I was wondering—could the Jewish community have reached the unengaged Jews in the audience through this event? I ask the question because the concert in New Brunswick, NJ is only one stop along the way for endless possibilities to reach unengaged Jews and intermarried families in the public space. There are many more opportunities if anyone wants to seize them.


  1. With all of these celebrities into Kabbalah, it seem like there are some excellent opportunities to engage the unaffiliated. Although Judaism is supposed to be “on-ramp” to Kabbalah, can it work the other way around?

    Comment by Ron in Croton — November 3, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

  2. I certainly think so. It means that rather than spending our time bashing those organizations that have somehow reached these stars successfully, we have to look at their successes, borrow from them and then roll out the Jewish red carpet, so to speak.

    Comment by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky — November 6, 2006 @ 8:54 am

  3. Are there any Jewish celebrities who talk about religion in a serious way? I know one of the Baldwin brothers is the hip Christian du jour … but it seems like the people on “our team” only talk about their faith when it is part of a punch line.

    Comment by Ron in Croton — November 7, 2006 @ 8:54 am

  4. Take a look at a recent book called Stars of David. It has some interesting celebrity perspectives in it.

    Comment by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky — November 7, 2006 @ 8:59 am

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