Chaim and David Linn – the Cover Story Article on Hamodia Magazine This Week

David Linn and his brother Chaim are the cover story of this week’s Hamodia, so we thought it was appropriate that we repost this piece and the great song Chaim wrote: Davey Pray mentioned in the Hamodia article.

Yasher Koach also to regular Beyond BT contributor Michael Gros for penning the article.

Live on the Radio: The Seeds of Teshuva of a Nascent Rock Star

I previously posted a little bit of my brother’s story here. Here’s the prelude.

Back when Chaim was Jonny, he and I lived in different worlds. He on the West Coast, I, in the East. He, a bohemian dabbling in New Age religion and eventually “Messianic Judaism”, I, an observant BT. He, fully living the life of a single, recent college grad, I, a Law School Student in my Shana Rishona (first year of marriage) expecting my first child.

The best advice anyone ever gave me was my Rov telling me not to cut ties with my brother, even after he wrote me a letter advising that he had accepted Jesus as the messiah. My Rov told me “Let him know that you think what he’s doing is wrong but tell him you love him and will always love him and tell him that you will be there for him if he ever needs you. Do not cut him off!”

Jonny was the lead singer of an up and coming West Coast band that was gaining popularity, playing larger venues and starting to get some radio play. The band was invited into the local radio station to do one of those live in-studio interview/jam session shows that populate Sunday radio. At one point in the interview, the host asked Jonny to intro a song he had written for me, “Davey Pray”. Jonny and I had pretty much come to the same crossroads in life by way of separate trips to Poland. After my trip, I had begun exploring yiddishkeit. After his trip, he became completely disenchanted with Judaism.

“Davey Pray” captures many things: my being the only “religious” one in the family, the fact that Jonny and I had, nonetheless, retained our relationship and the pintele yid crying out “Well, I don’t understand but I want you to know if there’s something you know that the rest of us don’t, Davey pray for me, pray for me…”

As some of you know, Jonny, now Chaim, is now a frum Jew living with his beautiful family in Jersey. Check out the pintele yid and the power of love in Davey Pray, recorded live on the air, in studio at KBOL in Boulder, Colorado.

Originally Posted on June 27, 2006

14 comments on “Chaim and David Linn – the Cover Story Article on Hamodia Magazine This Week

  1. Chaim,

    If you’re still reading this blog, I was wondering about a couple of things:

    I’m assuming you’re not making your living as a rock star now; what do you do? Assuming it’s some version of 9-5 labor, how do you transition from the excitement of rock star lifestyle to 9-5 worker mentality?

    Does your life now give you an outlet for this? How so?

    What does your wife think about your past and does she encourage that part of yourself in the present? How so?

  2. Recently I have learned that Aish is going to Poland. In a day or so. My first thought was “I must go”. Aside from the money issue $2,000.00, I discovered that the trip was private- closed. I have a strong desire to go back to Poland now.

    Ed- At any age it is a soul-harrowing experience to go to the camps. I hate to think how much worse damage could be done to certain people who went on this trip. There are people who refuse to go there. They know they cannot handle it. If a person visits the camps and is traumatized by it, there’s no telling what could happen to the rest of that person’s life. With 16-year-old kids, especially in this day where people’s goals are to be rich and famous and to avoid rules and regulations that control one’s life, etc, …There’s no telling what this stark contrast in realities can create in regard to one’s spiritual path.

    And I more than anyone was a little more than aspiring to be rich and famous, I was actually a little deluded into believing that I already was. I guess the theory is you try to be cool and artificially be something that’s not real…then it happens to you in the real world. You start to believe yourself because you live this fantasy in your clothes, your attitude and everything you do. You play music shows all around, you present yourself as having something important to say, that you have wisdom, and you promote your opinions and self -worship with your CD which so many people will hear. For me it was very strong. I related to that lifestyle of getting the crowd going and partying with the crowd and making my own rules.

    I was always feeling like something was not right…Like there was an answer out there but no one has shown me the answer yet. Sitting in class at Hebrew School, I was struck by how empty it all seemed and how uninteresting it all was. There never seemed to be a satisfactory response from the leaders of the synagogue or the trip as to how we fit G-d into the Holocaust. I have met Rabbis in the last ten years who at least deal with the issue.

    I was not ready to listen to Das Torah even if I had it at the time. I had decided that the Orthodox were the last people one should listen to. I was looking for answers at the time but I didn’t know who to ask.

    Another thing: I have always been the entertainer, making people laugh and playing music. Going on this trip totally squashed any purpose in being a clown or a performer. Who could go to Auschwitz and laugh it up? That is an insult to those who were murdered at Auschwitz. Still, I found a way to do this. I got everyone going and we needed a release desperately. I was an immature person. I still might be. My wife says I am. I’m not sure what my thought process was but when I saw the camps it felt like I’d gotten thrown against the rocks. I felt damaged and shocked. I was numb, I guess.

    Whenever I asked Dave something about Orthodox Judaism, I only asked to find out what was important to him. I never wanted to let the concepts influence me. I was guarding my Rocker image. I guess you can have all the answers around you and not even see it.
    Many people around me did not seem excited about mitzvos. It seemed like many related to their Judaism through the Holocaust. Before going to Poland I had decided that Judaism was mostly a cultural thing. Should I be a Jew because of gefilte fish or because someone tried to kill us several times in history?

  3. Thanks everyone for the comments. I will clear everything up shortly regarding the Holocaust and faith in G-d and who I was when I went to Poland, who I became in Colorado and when I was a “messianic Jew” (Praise the Lord!) and how I got here. This will take a few blog entries. I must tend to the family right now and I will try to address at least one of these issues tonight.

  4. Ed,

    Now I see where you are coming from. Keep in mind that the Poland trip and the decision to “become a Christian” were seperated by aprox ten years.

    If I can shlep Chaim on here to comment, he could address this himself but I don’t think that at the time he began dabbling in the world of messianic judaism that he was grappling with the questions presented by the holocaust.

  5. David,

    What I also meant was, not only did Chaim become disillusioned with Judaism after going to Poland – he subsequently became a Christian! In a sense, he opted for the religion of the oppressors. That does not make sense to me. I could see questioning G-d after such a trip – but that would pertain to religion in general, not just Judaism.

  6. Oh My God , the “Davey Pray” song is sooooo powerful ,sad & tugging at the heartstrings kind of deep.It just makes you wanna cry .Thanks for sharing the concepts & the music ,your brother sounds like a really awesome & spiritual person.

  7. Ed,

    In addition to the overall point that Ezzie made, I think we have to look at this in perspective. At the time of our respective Poland trips, my brother and I were 15-16 yrs old. It is an overwhelming experience for such a young person. If you try to comprehend how Chaim, now, as you know him would have had that reaction, I could see how you might be puzzled.

    And, yes, the guy does make a mean chulent.

  8. What I found interesting was that he became disenchanted w/ Judaism after a trip to Poland. It’s hard for me to understand how that could have happened.

    Why? It’s extremely depressing, and could easily make one question how a good and just God could allow such a thing to befall His people…

  9. I must say that I found this story, and particularly the song, “Davey Pray” to be quite moving, espcially in light of when it was performed. I know of Chaim Linn, through his contributions to the Passaic community, e.g., to his yeshiva (PTI), to other local musicians. And, of course, it is well-accepted that Chaim Linn makes one of the best cholents in Passaic.

    What I found interesting was that he became disenchanted w/ Judaism after a trip to Poland. It’s hard for me to understand how that could have happened.

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