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tanding Ovation: Veteran producer Dovid Nachman Golding hosts a walk down musical memory lane

Let me begin by saying that I’ve done a lot of crazy things in my life (and admittedly not all of them are things I’m proud of). The following story is one of them, and although it’s not technically music related, some of my old camp buddies have asked me to recount it.

I was a 20-year-old counselor at Camp Kol Ree Nah, when they announced that the day would be “Kiddush Hashem Day.” Everyone wondered what that meant. So the head counselor, Rabbi Wallerstien, said that every bunk would leave the campgrounds, go out, and attempt to make some type of kiddush Hashem. Everyone was instructed to be back for supper. The night activity would be a presentation to the camp by each bunk depicting what they did, and the judges would decide on a winner.

I took my bunk (the oldest campers in camp) and headed out toward Liberty. The next few hours were loads of fun — we went to the Liberty pizza shop, went shopping in A&P supermarket, and went to visit some other camps. Before we knew it, it was time to head back to camp, when the campers asked me the obvious question: What exactly was the kiddush Hashem we did today? I told them that I had no idea but something would come to me. So I sent the kids back to camp in a cab with my co-counselor Aron Raskas, and told them that I wouldn’t come back without a kiddush Hashem in my hand, and to please tell the head counselor that since we were the oldest bunk, we’d like to do our presentation last.

As the cab pulled away, I started to wonder what in the world I would actually do. I was standing in the middle of Liberty when I noticed a bar down the street. Don’t get me wrong; I’m no alcoholic, and never even went into a bar before. But I decided to enter, and as I pushed the door open, everyone turned to stare at me. I guess it had something to do with my yarmulke. “What can I do for you today?” the bartender asked me. I told him I was looking for some volunteers who play an instrument, to get them to come back with me to my camp for a small performance, and in return, I would buy them each a drink. As soon as I said that, a few of the regulars perked up. They said, “We don’t play any instruments, but we play a mean game of basketball.” They sure looked like they did. I thought for a moment, and then asked them if they knew how to sing. They nodded, and the deal was on. We all got into a taxi — five customers from a random bar and me — and headed to camp.

I thought to myself, what song could I actually teach them? What would be the easiest words for them to say, since Hebrew was the farthest thing from their dialect? I handed each one of them a piece of paper that said: ME-KEY-ME-MAY-OFF-OR-DULL and proceeded to teach them the popular “Mekimi” song.

As soon as we got to camp, it was our turn to present. My five heroes and I walked up onto the stage, as the audience wondered what in the world was going on. All of a sudden, the five of them broke out into a joyful rendition of “Mekimi.” No one could believe their eyes. Once they got their bearings, the entire camp joined in to the song. It was quite a sight to see.

Did we win that night? The judges had a big debate as to whether or not this was actually a kiddush Hashem or the opposite. Either way, when the night activity was over, the whole camp went down to the basketball court as our five guests challenged the camp basketball team to a game. Of course, to make a kiddush Hashem, we let our guests win. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 722)