This Pink Song Is My New Jewish Anthem – Kveller
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This Pink Song Is My New Jewish Anthem

Pink embodies the spirit of hineni in her song "I am Here" — and in real life.

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image via Getty Images, assets via Canva

It was a moment of Jewish joy I couldn’t have predicted. Maybe it sounds like hyperbole, but what the heck, I’m an always-enough, sometimes-too-much Jewish mom so I’ll just say it: the joy in my heart reminded me of the day I saw my daughter read for the first time.

“She’s JEWISH?” my 8-year-old exclaimed, finding out Pink, her favorite rock star, is Jewish like us. “What?!” she exclaimed again. Lielle, wild curls framing her freckled face, looked proud. She’s never been a real Swiftie like all the girls at school, though she likes a song or two. She prefers Pink’s humor, edge and danceability. Also, we started to wonder if sometimes you just know who your people are.

This realization happened while we were in the car, listening to our favorite songs on the way home from the dance studio, as we do twice a week. We had never heard the particular Pink song “I Am Here” before. Listening to the words, my heart opened, perceptible after a day spent on Instagram being told by people named things like MollyMama_3littlebears (she loves her kids, pumpkin spice and hot yoga) that I should check myself and learn more about what antisemitism is.

May the light be upon me

May I feel in my bones that I am enough

I can make anywhere home

My fingers are clenched, my stomach’s in knots

My heart it is racing, but afraid I am not

(Afraid I am not)

I am here, I am here

I’ve already seen the bottom, so there’s nothing to fear

I know that I’ll be ready when the devil is near

‘Cause I am here, I am here

All of this wrong, but I’m still right here

I don’t have the answers, but the question is clear.

I heard these lyrics and thought of the Hebrew word hineni: Here I am. I told my girl that this song is from a place inside the soul of a Jewish woman. She’s not saying “ani po,” what we say to indicate physical presence, half heartedly, when the Hebrew school teacher takes attendance. Pink is singing about being here with all of her humanity.

Hineni does not have an exact translation in English, but it is roughly translated to “I am here” or “Here am I.” It is used often in the Torah as a response to a call from God, or at a pivotal moment in the unfolding of our biblical narrative. It is what Abraham said when God called him to sacrifice his son as a test of faith. It is what Moses said in response to God’s voice coming through the buring bush. It is a full-throated affirmation, a commitment to the other, to ourselves and to our people. We say Hineni on faith without even knowing what is being asked or what may be waiting for us on the other side.

As my wise rabbi, Rabbi Jennifer Kaluzny, put it to me, “It is a way of communicating dedication, readiness and faith. It is recognizing that there is a moment of importance happening right here and now, and the only answer is to rise to that moment. It is also a recognition of covenant. That there is a relationship between the one calling out and the one answering. A bond. A trust. Hineni is a powerful statement, ultimately, of what it means to stand firmly in a place of love and mutual reliance.”

Pink, another Jewish mom like me, embodies Hineni when she stands up for our existence in the most trying times. It is the aliveness in her Hanukkah message that took on antisemitic trolls; it is the unnameable presence that my own daughter connects to. In another of our favorite Pink songs, she sings: 

If someone told me that the world would end tonight

You could take all that I got, for once I wouldn’t start a fight

You could have my liquor, take my dinner, take my fun

My birthday cake, my soul, my dog, take everything I love

But, oh, one thing I’m never gonna do

Is throw away my dancin’ shoes and

Oh, Lord, don’t try me, really, not tonight

I’ll lay down and die

I’ll scream and I’ll cry

We’ve already wasted enough time

I’m never gonna not dance again.

I hear this song and now can only think of the brave Mia Schem, who was taken hostage at the Supernova music festival and, upon her release, got a new tattoo that reads: We will dance again

Since October 7, I have had many hushed conversations with Jewish American friends, whispering, “I’m scared. Should I still hang a mezuzah on my door?” We want our own children to be safe, but we know to try and hide, regardless of whether or not we can, is to lose the essence of who we are. 

As I put my own little rock star to bed that night, I breathed in from the top of her head and squeezed her tight, singing, I am here. Here I am. 

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