Hip hop group Public Enemy, circa 1988

Released in June 1988, by Def Jam Recordings “Don’t Believe the Hype” became an international platinum hit by the legendary group Public Enemy. Taken from their sophomore album titled “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” the group achieved critical acclaim by taking on social and political issues head on that captured the hearts of the nation’s inner-city youth and the attention of the ruling elite.

The hip hop group originally consisting of Chuck D, DJ Lord, Flavor Flav, Khari Wynn, Professor Griff, and the S1W, spun a tale of caution admonishing the listeners with the famous hook – don’t believe the hype – which is literally repeated throughout the song.

Eventually, the hook made its way into the American vocabulary becoming a popular catch-phrase that lives to this day. According to Urbandictionary.com, it means to: “Ignore the media, marketing, buzz, or rumors around a story, object or person — it’s nothing special.”


Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivers his public safety speech at Malcolm X

This past week, at the new Malcolm X College, Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed a standing-room-only crowd as he serenaded Chicagoans with his highly anticipated anti-violence plan. A few highlights of the plan included: a reported 1,000 new police hires over the next two years, investments in struggling neighborhoods and mentoring for 7200 inner-city boys.

However, looking at one of Mayor Emanuel’s 2014 re-election campaign promises, he said the same thing about hiring police, back then. In a December 2014 article penned in the Chicago Sun-Times, it was noted that “Emanuel campaigned on a promise to hire 1,000 additional police officers then revised the pledge after taking office by adding 1,000 more ‘cops on the beat,’ more than half of them by disbanding special units. The other half were primarily officers working desk jobs reassigned to street duty.”

The article continued, “The mayor also balanced his first budget by eliminating more than 1,400 police vacancies, declaring an end to, what he called the annual ‘shell game’ of budgeting for police jobs the city had no intention of filling.”

After the Mayor’s emotional, and at times teary-eyed speech, critics immediately took notice of what was left out: how are these proposed changes going to be funded, especially during a period when the Mayor keeps claiming that Chicago is broke?

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Prayer of Kol Nidre

images-13Most non-Jews are familiar with the holidays of Rosh Hashanah (Oct. 2-4) and Yom Kippur (Oct. 11-12), the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. However, not many people outside of the Jewish faith are familiar with the prayer of Kol Nidre, yet alone have ever heard about the prayer, it’s purpose and what its designed to accomplish.

According to Chabad.org, Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the universe, the day G‑d created Adam and Eve, and it’s celebrated as the head of the Jewish year. It is also a day of judgment and coronation and for the sounding of the shofar – a musical instrument made from a ram’s horn.

Yom Kippur, on the other hand, is the culmination of the celebration of the New Year – it is considered the holiest day of the year—the day on which Jews are closest to G‑d and to the quintessence of their own souls. It is the Day of Atonement “For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d” (Leviticus 16:30).

The Kol Nidre is defined as an Aramaic prayer annulling vows made before God, sung by Jews at the opening of the Day of Atonement service on the eve of Yom Kippur.

According to the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, which is tasked with preserving American Jewry, it says the Jewish Encyclopedia is: “the most monumental Jewish scientific work of modern times.”

The Jewish Encyclopedia, compiled in the late 19th century and early 20th century, describes the Kol Nidre in the following manner:

Prayer recited in the synagogue at the beginning of the evening service on the Day of Atonement; [. . .]; it has often been employed by Christians to support their assertion that the oath of a Jew can not be trusted.


Ancient Torah scrolls

Before sunset on the eve of the Day of Atonement, when the congregation has gathered in the synagogue, the Ark is opened and two rabbis, or two leading men in the community, take from it two Torah scrolls. Then they take their places, one on each side of the ḥazzan, and the three recite in concert a formula beginning with the words, which runs as follows:

“In the tribunal of heaven and the tribunal of earth, by the permission of God—blessed be He—and by the permission of this holy congregation, we hold it lawful to pray with the transgressors.”

Thereupon the cantor chants the Aramaic prayer beginning with the words “Kol Nidre,” with its marvelously plaintive and touching melody, and, gradually increasing in volume from pianissimo to fortissimo, repeats three times the following words:

“All vows [], obligations, oaths, and anathemas, whether called ‘ḳonam,’ ‘ḳonas,’ or by any other name, which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next (whose happy coming we await), we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect; they shall not bind us nor have power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligatory; nor the oaths be oaths.”

The leader and the congregation then say together: Num. 15:26.

“And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them, seeing all the people were in ignorance”

This also is repeated three times. The ḥazzan then closes with the benediction:

“Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast preserved us and hast brought us to enjoy this season.”

In many congregations Num. XIV. 19-20 is recited before this benediction. After it the Torah-scrolls are replaced, and the customary evening service begins.

Mike Smith, a community activist who attended the Mayor’s speech but was protesting outside the meeting room says “Is it any wonder how we find ourselves in the same predicament when the Mayor made all those campaign promises back in 2014 and reneged on them. When are the people going to wake up and smell the coffee?”

Smith offers his final thought by quoting a line from the song “Public Enemy said it best ‘Don’t believe the hype, it’s a sequel.’”

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