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9. Passover at the Nuclear Test Site

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Music and Lyrics by Linda Hirschhorn © 1988

Lead Vocal: Linda Hirschhorn

Backup Vocals: Laurie Lewis

Guitar: Nancy Vogl

Bass: Joy Julks

Percussion: Carolyn Brandy

Soprano Saxophone: Norbert Stachel

This past spring, I participated in a Passover Seder celebration at the Nevada Desert Nuclear Test Site. The miracle of a desert rainbow mentioned in the song really did happen. It appeared as I sang a song praising the existence of the eternals: sand, sea, sky, and thunder. The appearance of the rainbow (the biblical seal on Noah's covenant with his God that the earth would not be destroyed), shook up even the most skeptical of the assembled. After I wrote the song, I discovered all the coincidences with the number 40 which is so prevalent an image in the song: Noah's flood was 40 days and 40 nights; Moses' days and nights on the mountain receiving the law were also 40; 40,000 is the approximate number of moons that have passed since the time of the story of the "birth" of the Hebrews when they passed out of Egypt (called in Hebrew mitzrayim, or "narrow place") through the parted sea; and I turned 40 this past June.

Gathered in the desert, singing songs of old,
telling all the stories our parents had been told.
This desert so like others with its cactus all in bloom
a place of shifting shadows spilling out its clouds of doom.

We were standing in the silence of the prayers of our hearts,
when a moment of great wonder broke the skies apart:
there were pieces of a rainbow shining overhead,
the covenant of Noah bringing back the almost-dead.

Forty days, forty years, forty thousand moons since birth
and still we wander recklessly all across the earth.
Miles and miles we've travelled on a land that's not our own,
a temporary gift to cherish, every twig and polished stone.

Gathered in the desert signing songs of praise
of sea and sands and thundering skies, the rise and fall of days.
This desert so like others with its tumbleweed and sage
yet underground, the sacrificial fires of our age.

We were standing...

Forty days, forty years...

© 1988 Linda Hirschhorn, Kehila Publications (BMI)
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