Columns - 2005

    Episode IV: A New Trope

    By Doug Brook
    Deep South Jewish Voice Columnist

    The following column is rated JG - Jewish guidance is suggested.

      A long time ago in a semin'ry far, far away...

      It is a period of civil unrest. Rabbis, singing with a secret bass, have won their first victory against the evil Media Empire.

      During the encore, Rabbi spies managed to steal secret plans for the Empire's ultimate weapon, the ROCK STAR, a heavy metal station with enough power to dominate the entire planet.

      Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leah races home, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the planet....


    The agent of evil, Dark Lainer, captures Princess Leah and interrogates her.

    "Several transmissions were beamed to you by rebel spies," says Lainer. "I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you."

    "I don't know what you're talking about," replies Leah.

    "You are part of the rabbi alliance and a traitor. Take her away!" After she leaves, Lainer continues, "I have traced the rebel spies to her. Now she is my only link to their secret bass."


    Leah secretly disposed of the plans, and they fell in the hands of Lou Steinwalker.

    Steinwalker is attacked by sand people, desert dwellers who occasionally shoot at nearby settlers. He is saved by a wise old man named Ben, who knew Lou's late father.

    "I was once a rabbi the same as your father," says Ben.

    "I wish I'd known him," replies Lou.

    "He was the best piout in the galaxy, and a good friend," says Ben. "Which reminds me. Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough, but your uncle wouldn't allow it."

    "What is it," asks Lou, flipping the strange object in his hand.

    "Your father's lightseder," Ben answers. "This is the weapon of a rabbi's night, used to maintain order. An elegant weapon for a more civilized stage."

    "What happened to my father?" asks Lou.

    "A young rabbi named Dark Lainer, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil... betrayed and murdered your father's music.

    "Now the rabbis are all but extinct," continues Ben. "Lainer was seduced by the dark side of the Shorshe."

    "The Shorshe?" asks Lou.

    "The Shorshe is what gives a Rabbi his power," Ben replies. "It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the seminary together."

    "Isn't a shoresh a root word in Hebrew?"

    "Exactly. That is where it comes from. The root of all things."

    "Ben, I brought a message for you."

    Lou plays the message, "Rabbi, years ago you served my father, now he begs you to help in his struggle against the Empire. Nobody remembers the old melodies anymore, they just like rock 'n roll. This is our most desperate hour. Help me save our liturgy, you've our only trope."


    Meanwhile, in a conference room far, far away...

    "Until this station is operational, we are vulnerable," says one Governor. "If the rabbis have obtained a full technical readout of this station it is possible, however unlikely, that they might find a weakness, and exploit it."

    "This station is now the ultimate power," replies another, younger leader. "I suggest we use it."

    Dark Lainer interjects, "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to broadcast across the planet is insignificant next to the power of the Shorshe."

    "Your sad devotion," replies the young leader, "to that ancient religion hasn't helped you conjure up the stolen demo tapes."

    "I find your lack of faith disturbing," threatens Lainer.


    Later, at the canteen...

    "Jewbaccer here," Ben tells Lou, about a tall heavily bearded character, "is first bass in a group that might suit us."

    Another man introduces himself, "Chazan Solo. Jewie here tells me you're looking for help."

    "Yes," replies Ben. "If it's at a fast clip."

    "A fast clip? I've done Ne'ilah in less than twelve minutes. We're fast enough for you, old man."


    On the way, as Ben teaches Lou the ways of the Shorshe. He ensures Lou knows the ancient trope, the traditional melodies that struggle to survive in a world of modern music.

    "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good ghetto blaster at your side," laughs Solo.

    "I suggest you try it again, Lou," says Ben," but this time let go of your conscious self and sing from instinct."


    The rebels gather to plan their final assault.

    "Let me get this straight," says Lou. "The trope will be more popular again if we win a golf tournament?"

    "A celebrity tournament. It will have a huge audience. Nobody will expect such a small attack to succeed. It will destroy the station before it can be used against us all."

    Lou was puzzled. "Can't they just build another one?"

    "Not for another two sequels."


    Later, on the green, Lou finally strikes the right note, hitting the target.

    "Great parshat, kid, that was one in a minyan!"

    Doug Brook is a senior technical writer in Silicon Valley. Watch this space for the other five episodes in this trilogy. Coming soon, Episode V: The Empire Shries Back. For more information, past columns, and other writings, theatre, and current events, visit his website at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.