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Release of “Left Brained, Right Hearted”

Posted on by Michelle

Release is a funny word.

An artist spends a lifetime
collecting experiences,
trying to catch the muse before she drifts away,
scurrying to jot down the melodies that stir
before falling asleep
transforming life’s obstacles into catchy choruses
praying for the ability to project the images and sounds that
live inside the walls of the mind…
translate it through voice
and into the microphone
and one day, into the ears, brains and hearts of listeners.
_

After years of working in studios
with the most incredibly talented musicians and producer
to work out each moment like a puzzle ensuring that it’s ‘just right’
the time has arrived to release.
_

I am so very very very proud and excited
to announce that today, on this New Moon of 11/11 11:11
I release my first album, “Left Brained, Right Hearted”
It’s the first of what I hope to be me many more ahead.
I’ve learned so much along this journey and if you are seeing this,
it means you have been a part of this journey with me.
_

It is my hope that these collection of 10 songs
playing with the relationship between head & heart
offer you a smile, a sense of connection,
a feeling of ‘oh me too!”, a new perspective,
but mostly – I just hope you enjoy it
for whatever it means to you.
_

My greatest hope with being a composer
is that I can offer music that will become
part of the soundtrack to your life
and to create a sense of connection
that we share in our human experience.
_

I am so lucky to have had such talented All star musicians
that have participated on this and especially grateful
for producer, Tim Bright’s creativity and direction
And to you.
_

I have always been a DIY artist
and believe strongly in the grassroots approach to sharing music.
Therefore, this album is being released independently
with the hope that if you enjoy what you hear,
I would be incredibly grateful if you would share
it with the folks whom you like to share things with 🙂
In today’s music ‘industry’ scene, word of mouth is everything.
_

Here are 2 quick ’n easy things you can do right now to help help spread the word!
_

Post a link with your own review for friends to see on Facebook & Twitter
Post a review on iTunes.com
_

“Left Brained, Right Hearted”
is available worldwide in CD and digital format
_

iTunes –https://goo.gl/KYZ6CD

CDBaby or physical CDs – goo.gl/oj96nS

michelle cd front-panel

 

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My Friend Jessie.

Posted on by Michelle

In college, we learn some of the most valuable life lessons. Most of these lessons are learned outside the classroom walls. As a wide-eyed first year student, I was eager to find my way in an enormously large Rutgers University – a place where I was known not by my name, but rather my nine-digit number social security number. With 40,000 students, I found it difficult to feel like anything but that nine-digit number.

All the more, it would seem like a miracle that day when out of nowhere, a beautiful angel named Jessica Roberts literally took my hand and said, ‘So, ‘Cits’…(I’ve heard many a nickname but never this one), “Tell me, who are you? What are you all about? What are you looking to do in this world?” By reaching out to ask me these questions, Jessica led me on a journey to help me find the answers.

Jessica (a junior) instantly mesmerized me with her incredibly calm and confident demeanor. Seeing the light in her eyes helped me feel hopeful that things would get better and there was no need to feel so anxious about this new environment. Jessie’s interest in connecting with me allowed me to feel less alone simply by helping me realize I was part of something bigger – a community. More importantly, Jessie taught me that it wasn’t enough to just ‘be’ a part of a community, it was important to be an active member of my community.

It was Jessie’s encouragement that led me to serve in student government, where I met a sisterhood of incredibly empowering and inspiring young women leaders who helped me find my voice so I could stand for what I believed in. I even had the incredible honor to deliver a commencement speech at my graduation. Who knew?? Definitely not me.

Jessie was valedictorian of her class, smart, beautiful, hilarious and friendly. She was someone who seemed to have it all. She even managed to inspire an international network of students to become activists by creating a college course that easily became one of my favorite, most memorable classes I had the privilege of taking.

A few months after graduating from college, as I became a first-year student of the ‘real world’, I received a devastating phone call that Jessie had taken her own life. My heart broke open to a reality I did not know. My brain couldn’t compute how someone who shined so much light into the world could possibly be struggling so deeply in darkness on the inside and…that I had no idea.

It would seem that I had one more lesson to learn from Jessie and perhaps it was the most important one of all; to never assume what someone’s reality is beyond their bright smile. I learned the lesson of making sure to reach out to loved ones just as Jessie did. I learned that it’s especially important to reach out to the ones who shine the brightest light, for they are often the ones who need it most.

What good is a lesson if you don’t put it into action? In honor of Jessie’s life work of reaching out to everyone she met and bringing light and leadership to this world – we are establishing an annual scholarship to be awarded to a Douglass College (of Rutgers University) student and Institute for Women in Leadership scholar who’s work captures the spirit, energy, and inspiration of our dear sister and friend, Jessica Roberts.

We are welcoming donations at this time to help support Jessie’s incredible legacy by helping nurture our future female leaders realize that they are not alone on their journey towards a path of leadership and that they are part of a larger community that is here to help them shine their light.

 

The Jessica L. Roberts Leadership Prize

Jessie

Jessie's words

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Never Forget…they’re still here

Posted on by Michelle

In 3rd grade, we were given an assignment of creating a “Family Heritage” project – an opportunity for us to learn where we came from and share it with the rest of the class. Every day, a different student would come to the front of the class and share their findings. For one student, it led to a tracing their family lineage back to English royalty circa 1608 complete with a coat of arms. For another student, it meant sharing how they were related to Billy Crystal.  For me, it was a homework assignment that forever would change my life.

I remember it like it was yesterday – sitting on the living room couch, flipping through photos in the name of research.  After going through every photo album we had, I was disappointed and confused not to be able to find any trace of family beyond my grandparents. When I asked my parents,  “why don’t we have any old pictures like my other classmates,” their answer was simple, “We don’t have anything – everyone and everything was lost in the Holocaust.” No pictures, no artifacts. Just names and stories…

Stories like my Grandfather Abe getting beaten by Nazis on the streets of Poland because of the yellow star he was forced to wear identifying him as a Jew. (To read his full story covered in a newspaper, click here for (part 1 and part 2)

Stories like when my Grandmother learned during her University’s spring break that the train she wanted to take to return to her hometown of Akkerman was no longer going in that direction, because Akkerman was overtaken by the Nazis. With one suitcase in hand, she boarded a different train that led her out of her country, never seeing her family again because she was the only one in her extended family who survived.

When I look at my 94 year old grandparents today, I find myself just as much in awe of them as when I first learned their story. With each passing day, as their minds and bodies become weaker, my respect and wonderment of their unbelievable strength and resilience grows stronger.  There are no words to describe their incredibly strong spirit, but there are pictures!


  

(and video….lots of it!) 

I count my blessings everyday to have them in my life.

Today, as we remember those who so tragically perished in the Holocaust, let us not forget about the incredible survivors who are still here with us. There are an estimated 127,000 survivors in the US alone and many are in need of 24/7 support, kindness and special sensitivities to their care and well-being.

I hope you will all join me in commemorating Yom HaShoah both as a day to honor and remember those who are gone as well as honoring and remembering the many survivors who need our help. Whether it’s donating funds or volunteering to spend time with a survivor, never forget that they’re still here.

http://www.ujafedny.org/holocaust-survivors/

 

 

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Women of the Wall

Posted on by Michelle

If I were to describe the following scene, “ A group of men with hate in their eyes, and spit flying out of their mouths as they shouted hateful things against a group a Jews, what’s the first image that pops into your head?

 

As the Granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I grew up hearing stories that typically included scenes like this from Nazi occupied Poland. To seek refuge, my Grandparents immigrated to Israel after the Holocaust seeking safety and the freedom to live openly as a Jew, without fear or persecution. For them Israel was a beacon of light after much darkness.

Lifting our voices in prayer and song

But the scene I describe did not take place in Poland 1939, it took place this morning in one of the most holy places for Jews – in Israel, at the Kotel. The angry men shouting, were a group of Ultra orthodox Jews who are enraged by the idea and practice of women reading Torah aloud, singing praises to G-d and wearing a prayer shawl while doing so.

 

This is not the Israel my family helped fight for. And it’s probably not the Israel your family worked so hard to create, certainly not the one that Gold Meir intended as she collected one dollar at a time to help fund the state’s Independence.

Golda addresses Israel

As I watched the tzitzit (prayer fringes) on the Haredim flying all around as they jumped up and down, shouting at the top of their lungs, “Get out, Nazis”…

.: hello irony:.

I wondered if anyone of them stopped to think for a second, about what those fringes of their tzittzit actually mean:

לט  וְהָיָה לָכֶם, לְצִיצִת, וּרְאִיתֶם אֹתוֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת-כָּל-מִצְו‍ֹת יְהוָה, וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם; וְלֹא-תָתוּרוּ אַחֲרֵי לְבַבְכֶם, וְאַחֲרֵי עֵינֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר-אַתֶּם זֹנִים, אַחֲרֵיהֶם. 39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye go not about after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go astray;

 

Women leading women in prayer and song

This morning, I witnessed a group of people who like to dress the part of being a holy people and yet none of their actions were out of consideration of G-d’s commandments. I would argue, it’s the complete opposite. And besides,  there is no halakhic rule against women wearing a tallit.

This morning, I witnessed an enraged group of people who acted out of hatred and disgust. Men and young boys shouted and booed out our prayers at an attempt to drown our voices, as if we were saying the name “Haman” as opposed to G-d.

An egg flys by a girl becoming a Bat Mitzvah

While these men were so focused on throwing eggs and water balloons aimed at people they deemed ‘evil’, I can’t help but wonder as the egg left the unknown thrower’s hand – if that person even for a split second, had the thought bubble of, ‘Is throwing this egg at a fellow Jew and shouting hateful things what G-d wants of me to make this world a better place?” the kind of question I tend to imagine a G-d fearing, religious person might ponder.

The State of Israel was meant to be established as a place for all Jews to feel safe, to call it home and to have the luxury of living Jewishly without living in fear.

A Splattered Egg at our feet

This morning, as I davened Shacharit, an egg flew inches past my head and splattered at my feet.
This morning, I did not feel that I could live and pray openly as a Jew in Israel without fear or persecution.

Rachel holds up the egg

This morning, I felt that we all were being prosecuted for being women who were openly praying and singing.

The toughest part about all this, is that it wasn’t coming from Nazis, or terrorists..it was coming from Jews who lived in Israel.

 

 

Processing

I watched how a young girl next to me processed this scene –of a Jew’s hatred against the other in the name of not wanting us to be singing or praying. She said, “it’s just so silly”. This child had more wisdom in her than any one of those egg-throwing yeshiva bochers.

With the soundtrack of hatred and aggression pouring out of the Haredim, I looked to the hundreds of young orthodox women who were literally bussed in like a field trip, missing school to block our entryway to the Western Wall.  I looked to the other side of the barricade to try to get an understanding of what they were experiencing.

looking on with curiosity

These young women looked so bewildered. Here they were, being told that this was so important, that they miss out on their own education to protest the, “Women of the Wall”.  As I linked eyes with a few of them, it became very clear to me very quickly that a lot of these women were not  looking at us in the same way as their male counterparts and a part of me wonders how many of them were curious about us as opposed to hating us.

young girl prays at the Kotel

Today, there may very well be young ultra orthodox men and women who may be curious about us, but feel too afraid to raise their voice let alone consciousness that could lead them to disobey what their community leaders have commanded them to do or believe. But perhaps tomorrow, that can change.

 

This is what it looks like

The secret that the Haredim don’t know – is that the more people they ask to join in ‘protest’ us, the more opportunity for the masses to witness what it looks, sounds and feels like when a group of women lift their voice in song and prayer – it is beautiful, peaceful and positively charged.

As we sang a closing song of Hatikva, a song dedicated to this land of hope, I held to the hope that this movement inspires anyone who loves Israel to jump in and take a stand on what the future of Israel’s relationship to religion should be.

I can tell you first hand that this issue is not limited to that of prayer or public singing.

Earlier this week on my bus ride to Tsfat, I experienced religious men refusing to let us women sit next to them by blocking off seats, creating a segregated (public) bus of religious men sitting in the front of the bus, while women sat in the back and young girls sitting on the floor, while there were still open seats next to the religious men. I was shocked and enraged, but particularly at the lack of response to fight this discrimination.

Rather than moving backwards in the bus of history, let this be an opportunity for people all over the world to rise up and support the concept of Israel as a homeland consistent with the original intention of Israel’s Declaration of Independence:

“it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants “ irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;”

I would encourage all who care about Israel’s future to act now so that Israel can be a place where a girl can become a Bat-Mitzvah at the Kotel, and can read from the Torah wrapped in a prayer shawl, able to focus solely on that once-in-a-lifetime holy moment without the distraction from shouts of hatred, or fears of an attack.  Act now, so we can have an Israel where women can travel to Tsfat without being harassed and bullied into sitting in the back of a public bus.

Ultimately, if we want Israel to be a place where people can lead Jewish lives with the freedom to choose what that means for them as opposed to being imposed by others, we must speak up and take action now.

For more information,  visit http://womenofthewall.org.il/Women of the Wall and learn how you can help.  The acronym says it all – Wow.

all photos © 2013 Michelle Citrin

 

 

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A very special upcoming concert

Posted on by Michelle

Hello Everyone,

For those of you in the Tri State area, I would love to invite you to a very special upcoming event dedicated to a very special human being, Jonah Maccabee Dreskin.  I feel very honored to be participating along  with Elana Arian and Chana Rothman and we hope you’ll join us for a wonderful evening of music :

Saturday, April 13th

@ Woodlands Community Temple, White Plains NY

For Tickets: http://www.wct.org/community/192-jonah
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/504001039662747/

 

 

 

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Screw the Red Tape, Let’s be the Glue.

Posted on by Michelle

Hello Friends,

I just got home from visiting Brooklyn shelters, drop off points and clean up sites in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Please allow me about 30 seconds to stand on a soap box because I have things I need to share with you.

When this storm hit, I think we were all in a bit of denial of how much damage it would actually cause. For one thing, everyone was rolling their eyes about all of last year’s hype of a hurricane..”surely it’s just another one of those situations. I mean, this is New York City! What could happen that we couldn’t handle?”

Fast forward to post- Sandy and being glued to the television for 48 hours, seeing my first rollercoaster in the ocean, learning of homes destroyed just miles from where I live… my next thought was was..”this is horrible, but I’m so grateful we have people responding to this and I’ll be sure to drop off some supplies at a local shelter to help out”.

I started looking on line to see what volunteer opportunities are being coordinated. I discovered a website sponsored by the city, which which simply required me to type in my email so I could officially be registered. I did so, and quickly received a general message of ‘thanks for signing up, we have been overwhelmed with volunteer help and we’ll let you know when an opportunity pops up”. “Great!” I thought to myself , “There’s an overwhelming amount of support. Now I can rest easy at night and they’ll just let me know when they need me”.

Later that night, I was watching a woman on TV in Rockaway crying about no one being there to help her and her twin babies. She had no food, power or water. There were no FEMA trucks, no American Red Cross. I thought to myself, “but it’s been a couple days since the storm, and the city tells me that there’s an overwhelming amount of volunteers offering support”. Huh?!?

Something wasn’t matching up right for me, so I decided to stop by some shelters to see for myself. Here’s the most common line I’ve heard, “we’re only accepting people who can do 4-8 hour shifts” and “ we have enough supplies, we don’t need that, thanks”. Followed by the disappointed volunteer saying, ‘oh…. okay…. so…I guess I’ll go home.” And then, these would-be volunteers, turned around with the supplies they brought with them, to go back home all saying the same thing – “Clearly everything’s under control, they don’t really need my help”. Once again, an implication that enough is being done (unless you can offer more than you can), we don’t need you.
My frustration and confusion was at its peak. I started googling like a madwoman until I came across… http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/

Regardless of where you stand politically or what you think Occupy is all about, I think it important that you have a look to see what they’ve been able to accomplish. Occupy is not turning away anyone.  They’re putting people right to work, they’re very organized, they’re constantly updating their website with supplies needed. These people have managed to figure out a way to quickly mobilize thousands of volunteers to get supplies and help to the hardest hit area offering hot meals, positive energy, and aren’t afraid to get down and dirty.

Social Media has changed everything. Everyday people are becoming community organizers, reporters, and photographers… I learned of grassroots efforts lead by people like my friend of a friend, Sean James Aiken, a Rockaway native, who decided to mobilize people and supplies at Berry Park, a bar based in Williamsburg, where loads of batteries, clothes, garbage bags, socks were being pulled together and brought out to those hardest hit places like Breezy Point.

The moral of the story is that the real power here, is in people coming together. We do not have the luxury of time to wait for big organizations and government to get organized enough to swoop down and save everyone. I have no doubt that everyone is working hard to make help possible, but right now there are elderly people stuck in 23rd story buildings in Brighton Beach who have been without power and food and heat and water for days. They do not have the time to wait for the benefit concerts’ money to roll in. They need a sandwich and they need flushable toilets. I can tell you from my own eyes and ears, standing on line to help at Red Hook Initiative, that there are calls coming in from elderly who need of help with their oxygen tanks at home that are not working.  This is literally an issue of life and death.

Everyone’s our neighbor. They need us to visit them right now. We need to be the ones helping one another. And this is already happening, but more helping hands are needed.

After visiting Red Hook, I can tell you that I didn’t see one FEMA truck or American Red Cross truck. I’m not implying that they’re not doing their job, I’m just saying, I didn’t see them. I did, however see lots of local folks come in with a desire to help and thanks to the efforts of Red Hook Initiative and Occupy – strangers are joining together and helping clean out people’s badly damaged homes.

What can we do?

Right now, there are not enough cleaning supplies (mops, shovels,bleach, garbage bags, gloves). There are not enough people wearing masks to protect themselves from the hazardous mold that is already growing quickly. There is a serious gas shortage, so if you have a car – think ahead, go to a drop off supply like in Bay Ridge – let them tell you what is most needed and then go. They may have you transport volunteers to the hardest hit areas, which is most needed.

Here are some ways to keep updated on the needs of different communities.
If you can get yourself down there now, do it! These people need our help and are so appreciative of whatever you can offer.

The following will not turn you away and not ask how long you can commit; they just need your help right now.

This isn’t a blame game, it’s just how things are right now. Screw the red tape, let’s be the glue.

Occupy Sandy – http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/
(Sign up to receive their newsletter updates)

Congregation Beth Elohim-  is  doing a wonderful job of mobilizing in Brooklyn.  Follow them at https://www.facebook.com/cbebk

*Shout out to Coucilman, Brad Lander who is out and about day and night coordinating efforts to help*

For a complete listing of drop off points, visit:

http://bushwickdaily.com/2012/11/how-to-help-tomorrow-in-sandy-aftermath/

* If you decide to drive out to Rockaway – before you go, stop by a donation drop off point and pick up supplies to go with you.

A volunteer coordinator in Rockaway Beach, Jean Dupont informed me she’s overwhelmed with supplies, and they’ve opened up a couple new sites in addition to St. Francis. If you’d like to get out there to the Rockaway, go to Firehouse on 59th street
across from the train station. If you need to reach Jean, call 9179755623.

Directions to Rockaway

From Brooklyn & Staten Island

Take Belt Parkway to Flatbush Ave South (Exit 11S), Go over Marine Parkway Bridge, (Pay toll), bear left
Stay on Main Road to 129 St, Turn Right on 129 St, proceed 3 blocks to Church
we drove on the LIE no traffic then got off the rockaway exit and took wood haven Blvd. the whole way there

Stepping down from the soapbox,
Michelle

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How to Help…

Posted on by Michelle

The waters have receded, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. The East Coast has a long recovery period ahead. I feel so very lucky to be safe and sound in my Brooklyn abode and at the same time, very sad to see the tragic scenes of our beloved city in shambles and the pictures of what used to be a scene of great Jersey joy, now in ruins.
Mother Nature – you are beautiful, strong and a constant reminder of how fragile we are. Sending love and strength to everyone.

 

Here are some wonderful ways to help folks in need:
Masbia

Please consider emergency donation now to Masbia. They are feeding 500-plus evacuated seniors: https://www.masbia.org/donate.asp.

* There is a Masbia location on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park.

 

Red Hook Recovers

This is a recovery organizing site for New York’s Red Hook neighborhood in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The site allows people to offer/request assistance, and is coordinated by the folks at OWS and community organizations on the ground: https://redhook.recovers.org/

 

City-sponsored services

Email nycservice@cityhall.nyc.gov with your name, email address and borough. There will be ways to volunteer today and over the next week as opportunities arise.

 

One of the city’s 76 shelters, including Forest Hills High School
If nothing else, one can always just show up at a local site and volunteer there: http://www.nyc.gov/html/misc/html/2012/hurricane_shelters.html.

CityMeals.org  – href=”http://http://www.citymeals.org/sandyvol”>http://www.citymeals.org/sandyvol

 

Uri L’Tzedek –  organization will be going around to homes of senior citizens to make sure they have food & water. http://www.utzedek.org/donate.html

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Welcome!

Posted on by Michelle

Well Hello! And welcome to michellecitrin.com, home of the Brooklyn based 5’1 dreadlocked singer/songwriter, Michelle Citrin.  Here is a place where fans from all over can come to one place, a one stop-shop listen to new tunes, old tunes, unreleased tunes, watch videos, read some random musings in the blog section, be the first to know about upcoming tours and projects and peruse through some photos taken on the road and behind the scenes- (who knows, you might be in one!)  Super excited to have you here and hope you enjoy your stay!

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