‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’, My Song for Rosh Hashanah

Screenshot 2020-09-17 at 12.54.44

With Rosh Hashanah coming up this weekend, I am often moved and inspired by our liturgy both ancient and new which speaks to me musically (if not the lyrics which I often find hard to connect with). Standing in shul and hearing the nusach (musical modes) for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur always flicks a switch in me. It has the power to bring you back to every New Year that went before and remind you of why you are there.

This year I won’t be in shul. Like many of us I will be at home reflecting on where we are now. 5780 was mad, crazy, not good for our mental health. Yet we find a way to live on and thrive.

Watching the latest episode of Amazon Prime’s The Boys (produced by Seth Rogen’s production house), my song for 5780 and maybe the past decade was cleverly used in a scene. It is of course … yes, you guessed it, it’s ‘We didn’t start the fire’ by Billy Joel. Not known for his Jewish music, Billy Joel is 100% Jewish. He was inspired to write the song by conversations he had with friends arguing that the 1980s were worse than the 1950s.

Unlike the nusach which often moves me, Joel’s song is all about the lyrics, poetically listing the ups and downs of both decades.

Perhaps Mr Joel would consider updating his song to compare the current decade with the 1980s.

Maybe something like this:

Donald Trump, Covid, lots of lockdowns, no vaccine,
Wear a mask, don’t wear masks, civil liberties to spread disease.
Black lives matter, ‘all lives matter’, time to shatter all the hate
Brexit fuckups, breaking treaties, not making England great

We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning…

Are we living in the worst of times? Or have we been here before in some way or another?

Something to ponder over Rosh Hashanah.


Dan is a founder of JewThink, admin of SAAS, editor of DailyJews, Chair of the JVS, and a Technology consultant.  In his spare time he sleeps.
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