Alicia Jo Rabins

A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff

An experimental rock opera about the spiritual implications of the current financial crisis, examining the figure of Bernard Madoff (and the system he represents) through the lens of rabbinic Jewish texts about financial ethics, the meaning of wealth, and the inevitability of cycles.


Sep 20, 2012Two Fellows Join Forces in DUMBO

Nov 8, 2012A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff at Joe’s Pub!
New York

Oct 27, 2012Girls in Trouble in Barrington

Jul 28, 2012Poetry in Seattle

Jul 17, 2012Girls In Trouble in Portland!

May 24, 2012A Very Special Alicia Jo Rabins Performance
New York

May 19, 2012Alicia Jo Rabins Six Points Preview!
New York

Mar 15, 2012Alicia Jo Rabins at the JCC in Manhattan!
New York

Jan 1, 2012Alicia Jo Rabins in Italy!

Oct 27, 2011Alicia Jo Rabins on Tour

The NY Fellows

Judd Greenstein
Judith Berkson
Hadassa Goldvicht
Netta Yerushalmy
Sylvan Oswald
Hannah Bos
Oded Hirsch
Liana Finck
Alicia Jo Rabins


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    “A Lion at Rest” by Girls in Trouble (lyrics and music by Alicia Jo Rabins, released November 2009 on Jdub Records)



Alicia Jo Rabins’s A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff was performed November 8th and 15th, 2012, at Joe’s Pub, in New York. A new song cycle about the spiritual implications of the recent financial crisis, A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff viewed the figure of Bernard Madoff, and the system which allowed him to function, through the lens of ancient Jewish texts about financial ethics, ecology and cycles. Drawing on aspects of Greek tragedies, and the contemporary operas of Osvaldo Golijov, Philip Glass and John Adams, Alicia considered Madoff as a larger-than-life figure who reflects our society’s desire for straight lines and eternal upward progress.

The melodic vocabulary derived partly from Yom Kippur liturgy, especially the Kaddish. Looping and delay pedals were used to layer and abstract these traditional melodies, musically investigating the ideas of cycles, aggregation, and attrition. The libretto drew from halachic, aggadic and kabbalistic texts, quotes from Madoff and his victims, and the arcane language of the stock market, ultimately investigating the intersection of mysticism and finance, the inevitability of cycles, and the true meaning of wealth.

Poet, composer, and classically trained violinist Alicia Jo Rabins weaves her many talents together to create multi-layered work investigating the intersection of spirituality, tradition and contemporary experience, most recently in her song cycle Girls in Trouble, which tells stories from the perspective of marginalized female figures in the Torah. A classically trained violinist since the age of three, Alicia fell in love with old-time fiddle tunes and klezmer music, playing on the street, touring with various young neo-folk bands, and in 2004 joining the groundbreaking folk-punk group Golem, which reinterprets traditional Gypsy and klezmer tunes with a rock edge. In 2009 she was selected by the US State Department as a musical ambassador for the United States as a violinist, singer, and teaching artist, and performed in Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala as the bandleader of the Hoppin’ John String Band. Along with her musical career Alicia is also a poet, scholar and teacher of Jewish studies, with poems in publications such as Ploughshares, Boston Review, 6 x 6 and Court Green, a MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College, scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2009 Workspace Grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and a MA in Jewish Women’s Studies from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

-->Alicia discusses her personal journey in her JDOV talk -->

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Lucid Culture
Nov. 10, 2012

Jewish Week
Nov. 1, 2012

Rogovy Report
Oct. 24, 2012

Jewish Week
May 22, 2012

The Forward
Aug 18, 2011

Huffington Post
May 18, 2011

The Forward
May 16, 2011

Jewish Week
May 10, 2011

Jewish Chronicle
April 22, 2011

Dec 3, 2009