25 Emails That Target Each Stage of the Customer Lifecycle

Each time you reach out to your contacts, you are able to turn their attention to you and your business. This isnt to be taken lightly because you are taking their limited time and attention off important things in their life their friends and family, work, and recreation.To show respect for your contacts time, each message needs to be as relevant, important, and valuable as possible.

But, what is important, relevant, and valuable changes as a contact goes through the stages of the customer lifecycle. Their interests and priorities shift dramatically as they move from curious prospects to repeat-purchase evangelists. What is appropriate and helpful for one stage, might be completely irrelevant and unwelcome for another stage.

The shift toward marketing automation has made perfectly-timed emails possible:What may be less clear, is what email messages you should be sending at each stage to shorten your sales cycle and create satisfied repeat customers who spread the word about your company.What follows are suggested email messages you could send during each stage of the customer lifecycle. By creating a segmented follow-up strategy, you can deliver a variety of stage-targeted messages during each phase.

AwarenessThis stage is all about inbound lead generation. You want to be sure that youve got plenty of high-value opt-in incentives and forms out there to collect contacts as they find you on search engines, social media, and advertising.Emails to send during the awareness stage:Welcome email Welcome emails are opened more than any other type of email, have much higher clickthrough rates, and have proven to increase long-term revenue.

Its a quick win for your company easy to set up and a golden opportunity to get an important message in front of the majority of your contacts.Follow us on social media While email is the gold standard, social media gives you another opportunity to increase your contacts awareness and engagement in an unobtrusive way.Introduce research resources Make them aware of your blog, your help docs, your white papers and other content repositories youve produced.

This way you can nudge them into the research stage using your resources.ResearchDuring this stage your customers are learning about their problem and the variety of solutions available. They are educating themselves and deciding on the route they will take to address their needs.

This is the stage that makes content marketing work so well.As consumers in the information age, weve learned that educating ourselves is critical to making a wise buying decision. We have a near limitless amount of information at our fingertips and its changed how we shop.

We can learn from others experiences, we can discover solutions wed have never considered, we can research nearly everything about a company before deciding to purchase from them.Researching prospects are still early in the customer lifecycle, but they are forming opinions and impressions of different companies as they consume information. If you can position yourself as a trusted source you can provide value, build the relationship, and position your company as a thought leader.

During the research stage there is a golden opportunity to generate opt-in leads. The educational content you are pushing out through various channels should attract plenty of visitors and, once youve got their attention, you can offer them something of higher-value to incentivize them to opt-in.Emails to send during the research stage:What are you interested in?

Early on in the research phase, find a way to identify or, at least, narrow down your contacts interest. If you can nail that down, you can deliver much more targeted messages and more relevant content. One way to do this is to offer a variety of content in a single email and then use link tracking to see which content they chose to view.

At this stage, you probably cant deliver too much content (assuming it is high-quality, targeted content). Content in various formats Webinars, white papers, instructional videos, white papers, ebooks, and slide decks there is no shortage of ways to publish content these days. All these formats exist because people have different preferences for how they choose to consume information.

Dont unnecessarily limit your content to a couple formats when youll isolate your content from certain groups of contacts. Content that explains their problem By describing exactly what the customer is going through, you convey that you understand them and where they are at. This empathetic message serves as the foundation for future content.

If a contact feels that you get it theyll be more likely to pay attention. Its the difference between getting advice from someone you trust has been there and done that versus someone who just likes to give people their opinion.Content that gives tactical advice and actionable insights When we are researching a problem, we are generally looking for a solution and not just reading for fun.

The best kind of content is usually something we can learn from and use. Fluff pieces wont help anyone but if you can deliver solid, usable advice your contacts will appreciate hearing from you and thats exactly what you want so that when you start marketing more aggressively, they are receptive.Content that points to your solution and explains why its the best solution In the late stages of the research stage, youll want to begin working some marketing messages into your content.

You dont want that to be the focus of the content, because that will turn them off, but they are naturally moving toward comparison so you want to begin educating them on the advantages of your company and solution. ComparisonBy this stage, your contacts feel educated on their problem and the available solutions. They are moving quickly toward a buying decision they just need to pick between you and your competitors.

This is when you want to give personal attention to leads and make sure that they have the resources they need to make a fair comparison. Ideally, youd like to influence the conversation that is taking place in their mind as they look at you and look at everyone else. You can do quite a bit to ensure this comparison is a favorable one.

In contrast to the research stage where you were sending helpful information to build trust and establish your company as an authority worth listening to, at this stage you will want to turn up the heat by delivering content that is more marketing oriented. Youll want to make sure your contact knows what makes your solution unique, why its a good value, and point out why it might be a better solution for them than other options.If your company has a sales team, youd want to aggressively pursue getting a meeting with them so that you can speak one-on-one about their goals and concerns and point out how your solutions can help.

These emails can be triggered by lead score assuming youve designed your lead scoring system to look for indications of comparison shopping. Emails to send during the comparison stage:Have time to talk? A short invitation to set up a time to talk is a proven method of moving the relationship to the next level.

While marketing automation can identify interests, theres nothing like a real-time back and forth to nail down exactly what a leads hopes and fears are surrounding your solution.How can I help? If they arent open to a one-on-one, they might be open to someone helping them.

If you can give them some kind of specific help, the better.Heres a buyers guide Content that compares solutions gives you an opportunity to put your opinion of the competitive landscape in front of your contacts.Heres what makes us different/better Sometimes you just need to come out and say exactly what you mean.

Heres why our solution is perfect for you By this point in the relationship, youve probably gathered some decent data on your prospect so you can speak to them very personally about what they are looking for and why. You can explain exactly how your solution meets their needs.PurchaseA purchase is huge.

If it were a relationship, you would have proposed and they would have said yes. Now, as long as you mess up, you have a good chance of having a lifelong customer. At this point, they trust you so dont let them down.

After purchase, you should begin a calculated process that ensures they have, not only a great experience of your company, but one worth talking about. Make it memorable. Make it beautiful.

Make it unique. Differentiate yourself with the experience people have when they become customers. You might make a very, very similar widget to your competitors, but you can provide an entirely different (and better) experience of purchasing that widget.

Help them use your product. Give them resources that ensure theyll be able to successfully solve their problem with your solution. Emails to send during the purchase stage:Thank you and welcome Welcoming a new customer gives you an opportunity to get an important message in front of them.

A sincere expression of what it means to you that they trusted you with a purchase is a great way to start a new company-provider relationship.Everything okay? Check in with your new customer so you can be sure that everything is going okay so far.

If its not, you can proactively address their concern. If you do this right, you might actually improve the relationship by demonstrating your awesome customer support.Product use guidance (product consumption) Customers will get drastically different results from your product because they will use it differently.

Obviously, the customers who never use it will experience very little value and those customers who use your product often and in intelligent ways will experience tremendous value. You want to guide all your customers toward the most intelligent uses of your solution so that they all experience as much value as possible. This will help create raving fans and minimize the amount of sucks, didnt use it reviews you receive.

Best practices and pro-tips Take your guidance to the next level with advanced tips youve gleaned from the top 1% of your users.How did it go? After theyve had a chance to settle in with your solution and get up and going, check-in and see what they think.

Youll again have an opportunity to proactively identify problem cases and youll also be able to identify your thrilled customers. RetentionIts common knowledge that it is far more expensive to gain new customers than to keep your existing. As they say, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

Whether your customers decide to keep purchasing widgets from you or decide to test the widgets of your competition depends on whether they feel they might have a better widget experience elsewhere. This is where your customer onboarding experience makes its glorious debut helping customers to get up and going with your product as fast as possible and produce the best results possible. Your onboardings goal is help the customer get as much value out of your product as possible while overcoming obstacles that have proven to hold people back in the past.

Emails to send during the retention stage:Support resources Everyone in your industry might be making a very similar widget but its doubtful that everyone is providing the same level of customer support. Customer support is a major point of differentiation and its what matters most to many consumers so make sure that your customer is aware of your support resources and make it very easy for them to use them.Q & A convo Start a conversation to build the relationship and give them a chance to voice any lingering concerns.

Newsletter Your newsletter is a chance to notify your customer of product updates, company updates, and continue to strengthen the relationship. Obviously, you want to make these messages as light-hearted and interesting as possible. A dry, corporate newsletter will quickly end up in the spam folder and so do more hurt than help.

The awareness stage is where the customer lifecycle loops on itself. If youve done your job well, and your company has delivered on its promises, youve produced a satisfied customer who will evangelize your company/product/brand creating more and more awareness as your customer base grows.Word of mouth marketing is the holy grail of marketing because it has the highest conversion rate and the best ROI.

Getting there requires all the moving parts in your company to work together perfectly to create a product and company experience worth talking about with friends, family, and followers. Emails to send during the awareness stage:Are you satisfied? Try to nail your contact down on whether they are happy or not.

If they are, you can send them another message asking them to refer you to others.Would you refer us? Identify your customers who are evangelists.

This select group of contacts are out there promoting your company. You should thank them, reward them, and give them special treatment.Heres an incentive to refer us Some people might need a nudge to make a recommendation.

The new wave of mattress manufacturers, like Leesa and Casper, are leveraging referral bonuses and getting fantastic results.Please give us feedback Ask your customers to give you feedback. Your happy customers will give you testimonials you can use in your marketing and your dissatisfied customers will help you identify the weak spots that need improvement.

Either way, this is extremely valuable. By delivering the right message at the right time, you are able to influence your contacts as they move through the stages of the customer lifecycle. Each email you send is a chance to strengthen and progress the relationship.

Originally published at RELATED QUESTION What times does Tribute in Light display outside of September 11, 2012? Located at West and Morris Streets in Lower Manhattan, the tribute of lights will begin at sunset of 9/11 (7:11pm) and fade away at dawn on September 12th (6:43am), though no formal service will be held. The Tribute is comprised of 44 7,000-watt xenon light bulbs arranged into two 48-foot squares inspired by shape and orientation of the twin towers.

The Memorial illuminates up to 4 miles in the sky and can be seen from up to 30 miles away.

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HIV interferes with your body's ability to effectively fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause disease, and it can lead to AIDS, a chronic, life-threatening disease. When first infected with HIV, you may have no symptoms at all. Some people develop a flu-like illness, usually two to six weeks after being infected. Early HIV signs and symptoms may include: Fever Headache Sore throat Swollen lymph glands Rash Fatigue These early signs and symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. During this period, you are very infectious. More persistent or severe symptoms of HIV infection may not appear for 10 years or more after the initial infection. 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Focus, position and hanging:Conventional stage lighting must be set up because of these three contemplations. Focus refers to where the light will point; position alludes to where the light will start from; hanging refers to the real demonstration of hanging the light. Shading, force and example (assuming any) should be considered next. Types of stage lighting :Ellipsoidal - these lights are the conventional stage lights and thought to be the most critical. They are centering lights, the appearance in front of an audience of which can be adjusted by screens and channels.Fresnel - these lights are utilized for shading washes on the stage. Standard Jars - these lights are the sort you will see in even the dingiest of bars. Continuously a strong choice, standard jars can get hammered, are sturdy and simple to transport.Follow spots - these are spotlights used to pursue somebody around a phase. Obviously, there are increasingly choices accessible for stage lighting with the consistent progress of innovation. Presently you have the fundamentals; here are a couple of more alternatives:LEDs - these Professional LED Stage Lighting are useful for centered pillars and have been gradually supplanting conventional globules in stage lighting.Dizzies - these lights are round circles with a few Drove lights (more often than not of varying hues) covering the surface. The circle pivots in an assortment of bearings and examples, making a whirling, confounding example, consequently the name.Gels - this term alludes to the hues given to lights. They function as shading channels, and should work in congruity with the shade of the light itself to accomplish the craved impact. Once you have got your types of lighting down, you'll have to consider where to place them. Here's an essential summary of lighting positions:Front - This is utilized for the most part for perceivability and shading impacts. Side - can be utilized to awesome impact to complement activity. Back - Additionally utilized for impact. This kind of lighting can make the dream of profundity on a phase, or notwithstanding to silhouette a man totally.What is proffesional led stage lighting?------3. I have been bleeding all weekend but positive preg test. whats wrong?Spotting or light vaginal bleeding at the start of your pregnancy is a common occurrence and can even disguise the fact that you are indeed pregnant. Women have even confused this light bleeding for their period. My obstetrician told me that one in three women report having some amount of light bleeding during the first month or two of pregnancy. Most of these occurrences do not result in loss of pregnancy. I experienced spotting in two of my pregnancies before the eighth week of pregnancy and both of those pregnancies resulted in healthy girls. If you experience spotting or vaginal bleeding early on in your pregnancy you may hear the medical staff refers to it as threatened abortion, which can be scary to hear. When light bleeding leads to loss of pregnancy many terms are used to describe this loss that you may hear your health care staff speak about including those associated with spontaneous miscarriages such as threatened abortion, inevitable, incomplete, complete, or missed abortion. If you are spotting or experiencing light bleeding but have not passed any tissue or experienced any cramping, what you may have is a threatened abortion. This may mean that you are in the beginning stage of having a miscarriage or you may be experiencing things associated with a normal pregnancy that may be causing the bleeding. Light bleeding can progress into heavier bleeding quickly or over the course of a few days. Fortunately for me an ultrasound revealed that what was thought of as a threated abortion was an intact pregnancy with a strong heartbeat. Having personally experienced light bleeding in two pregnancies I can attest to the fact that the first thing a woman things of when she sees the blood is, "I'm losing my baby!" If the bleeding is brown in color it is most likely old blood. If the blood is bright red than it is fresh bleeding and more cause for concern than if it had been old blood. I was told that the color of blood is significant by one of the medical staff caring for me during my last pregnancy and she told me the meaning of the color of vaginal bleeding during pregnancy. If you also have cramping that feels like your period it is more likely that you are having a miscarriage and need medical attention, another tip I was told by this staff member. Do not panic if you are experiencing cramping though because some women have reported light cramping at the time of implantation and have continued with a healthy pregnancy. Fortunately I was not cramping in this pregnancy but had been cramping in a previous one that had led to my daughter being born at 23 weeks gestation. She survived and is a healthy teenager today.------4. Can Photosynthesis Be Carried Out Using The Light From A Torch?Look into: fluorescence induction studies Here are some resources for you: Grow light From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Redirected from Plant light) Jump to: navigation, search Dual spectrum compact fluorescent grow light. Actual length is about 40cm.Grow lights are electric lamps designed to promote plant growth by emitting an electromagnetic spectrum appropriate for photosynthesis. It does this by mimicking the light spectrum from the sun, allowing indoor growth with outdoor conditions. Different light spectrums are used for the different stages of plant growth. The initial vegetative stage requires blue spectrum of light, whereas the later 'flowering' stage should be done with red/orange spectrums. The lights can be bought by spectrum colour specifically, or some companies such as Sylvania Grolux produce a full spectrum bulb which caters for all stages of growth. The light is usually used in conjunction with a reflector, to control and intensify the light emissions, and will include an electrical ballast to control the flow of current flowing to the light. This is required because of the high intensity of the light that is necessary to produce something akin to sunlight. But because of this intensity hydroponics can lead to double or more growth rate than regular growing. Lamp types used as grow lights include high-intensity discharge lamps and fluorescent lamps. Grow lights are most used for indoor gardening, including indoor hydroponics and aquatic plants. Artificial photosynthesis From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search Artificial photosynthesis is a research field that attempts to replicate the natural process of photosynthesis, converting sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into carbohydrates and oxygen. Sometimes splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by using sunlight energy is also referred to as artificial photosynthesis. Research is being done into a streamlined form of photosynthesis which breaks water into oxygen and hydrogen . This process is the first stage of plant photosynthesis (the Light-dependent reaction). Carbon dioxide is not required in this approach. The hydrogen released in artificial photosynthesis (stage 1) could be used in hydrogen engines to generate "clean" energy. The light-independent reaction (aka the Calvin-Benson cycle) is the second stage of plant photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide into glucose. Glucose is stored energy for a plants' growth and repair. It has been suggested that such a process replicated on an industrial scale could help to counter global warming. Specifically, the light-independent reaction of photosynthesis could be used to "mop up" excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Again, however, such a process would ultimately require a source of energy, just as plant photosynthesis does. A flashlight or torch is a hand-held portable electric spotlight.
Marilyn Manson Crushed by Falling Prop on New York Stage
Marilyn Manson has been rushed to hospital from a concert in New York after a huge prop made from two giant guns fell forwards onto him.Manson was about an hour into his set in the city's Hammerstein Ballroom yesterday when the prop - which appeared to be two giant guns joined by metal scaffolding - flipped forward. He can be seen in video posted from the event grappling with the prop for an instant, before it fell fully on him.#NileFM | #BreakingNews@marilynmanson crushed by falling stage gun props at concert, taken to hospitalWatch crowd-shot video below: pic.twitter.com/nZgG4RlzW7— 104.2 Nile FM (@NileFM) October 1, 2017An eyewitness told the BBC that the singer laid on stage for up to 15 minutes covered by a sheet before he was carried out on a stretcher and taken to hospital.His condition is not currently known.Eyewitness Anthony Biscardi said: "He was performing the [Eurythmics] song Sweet Dreams. Towards the middle of the song it seemed as though he tried climbing onto a prop. The first touch of weight on those poles and it came crashing down onto him."Clips from the scene show tour staff instantly lifting the prop off Manson, but he does not get back up."He was pretty limp, almost as though he was unconscious," Mr Biscardi said.Mr Biscardi said a black sheet was put around Manson until he could be taken off stage. The house and stage lights went off for several minutes and came back on with an announcer saying the show was over "due to injury".A representative told Rolling Stone magazine that: "Manson suffered an injury towards the end of his incredible NYC show. He is being treated at a local hospital."Manson, 48, was three dates into his The Heaven Upside Down Tour. He was due to perform in Boston on Monday night.
The Time Travel Machine: Ashok Leyland's Auto Expo
At his office, vintage car restorer C S Ananth has literature pertaining to Austin A40 Devon within easy reach. For, until August 30, he was working on a 1948 model of the car, for his client, Ashok Leyland. The company had commissioned the restoration, seeking to make the car the frontispiece of a visual story tracing 70 years of organisational history.At an expo conducted over the last weekend, Ashok Leyland's history was parked in rooms, each roughly representing a decade. Visitors walking into the first room were greeted by a 1948-manufactured Royal Blue Austin A40 Devon, doused in soft stage lights. The car took visitors to the genesis of the company in 1948, when it was known as Ashok Motors. A timeline at ashokleyland.com/history throws light on the genesis:"Founded by Raghunandan Saran, Ashok Motors was set up in collaboration with Austin Motor Company, England and incorporated on September 7 (1948) for the Assembly of Austin cars."In 1949, at the company's factory in Ennore, near Madras, the Austin A40 began to be 'indigenously assembled'. Distribution of assembled Austin A40s in India continued till 1953. The Austin Motor Company was making Austin A40 Devon from 1947 to 1952, when it was replaced by the Austin A40 Somerset.Only assembled four-door Austin A40s were distributed. Along with the four-door Austin A40 Devon, the Austin Motor Company had introduced a two-door model called Austin A40 Dorset, which didn't make it to the Indian market. In the India of that period and the decades following it, two-doors did not make an impression on most buyers of passenger cars."In the West, two-door cars were in vogue. With a two-door car, buyers there were reassured about the safety of children sitting in the rear. In India, two-doors were seen as an inconvenience to elders: They would find it difficult to enter such a car," says Ananth.Moreover, the Austin A40s assembled and distributed by Ashok Motors (the company would be renamed Ashok Leyland only in 1955, when Leyland Motors Ltd became its equity partner) were bought and pressed into taxi service in the metros.In the last room, where the latest developments at the company were being showcased, a 1953 Austin A40 Somerset was parked. The car had been made electric and it drove home the company's move to work on new platforms, which include making electric vehicles. As part of the 70-year celebrations, it has inaugurated an electric vehicles manufacturing facility at Ennore.
Under the Stars and Quilts, with Randalls Island As Her Stage
It's a sleepover to beat all sleepovers. Food, stories, discussions, dances and, after an opening ceremony and a two-mile walk, settling down for the night on a 4,000-square-foot bed of quilts.For her newest performance project, "Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars," the dance artist Emily Johnson will play host to 300 strangers in Randalls Island Park. This all-night event on Saturday, Aug. 19, which is presented by Performance Space 122, is no endurance test. Participants will be on the island long enough to watch the sun set and rise again. Ms. Johnson, who specializes in multidisciplinary work, is trying to spark some change and some healing in the world. "It takes us taking a step together to do that," she said. "I love bringing people together."And she's good at it. For Ms. Johnson, a soft-spoken Alaskan of Yup'ik ancestry, action taken, no matter how small, adds up. "Gather our awareness, gather our senses," she continued. "Gather our ability to care for one another, to rest together and to move toward a guided action."She can't predict what that action will be in the end, but Ms. Johnson does feel adamant that it's time for a shift. "Across the world, there are these disruptions and ripples — deep, deep anguish and deep, deep bursts of action, all of which is necessary," she said. "But how can we focus? We come together. And that is like ceremony. You don't know what the end of ceremony is, you just know that you're stepping into a process."Ms. Johnson, who lives on the Lower East Side after 21 years spent in Minneapolis, has been working toward such an event. Her recent project "Shore" extended beyond the proscenium stage to include, in a 2015 New York iteration, a performance that began outside and moved indoors, a section directed by Ain Gordon; volunteerism in the Rockaways and on Governors Island; and a potluck feast.This time, Mr. Gordon is directing the entire event; early on, he convinced Ms. Johnson to contain "Then a Cunning Voice" to a single site."She was talking about this idea of stargazing and about turning off electric light, so I sort of said, 'So we're going to do all that and then march everybody off to a theater and turn on stage lights?" he said. "That doesn't sound theatrical to me. So we began to talk about how it could all happen in one place."Mr. Gordon, a three-time Obie winner, enjoys the collaborative process because it refreshes his own. It helps that he and Ms. Johnson have different artistic impulses. "She tends to wish for things to ebb and flow," he said, "and I tend to be more decisive about 'here is the beginning and here is the end.'"In the millions of conversations we've had, I don't remember Emily saying, 'Will this be big enough for the size of the stage?' And I say that all the time."After hearing his comment, Ms. Johnson laughed for a good 10 seconds. "Good," she said.Ms. Johnson is just as fond of her other collaborators, who include the dancers Tania Isaac and Georgia Lucas, a 12-year-old from Newark who performed in "Shore," as well as the textile artist Maggie Thompson, who designed the quilts. They were created in multiple cities by volunteers at community sewing bees around the United States and in Taiwan and Australia. Inscriptions are sewn into the quilts, answering questions like, "What do you want for your well-being?" One answer reads: "A changed relationship to time."Jen Rae, a founder of the Australia-based Fair Share Fare, a collaborative art project that focuses on the future of food amid the looming disruptions of climate change, is planning the menu. In Melbourne, where "Shore" was also performed, Ms. Rae focused on indigenous food.In her work, subtly or otherwise, there is always a recognition of the notion of indigenous people and their land. Randalls Island, as Ms. Johnson pointed out, is in the Lenapehoking homeland — the lands inhabited by Native Americans known as the Lenape. For "Then a Cunning Voice," Ms. Rae is researching the history of Randalls Island, including its soil and the language and traditions of the Lenape people. It's not catering, but rather, it's food as art.Ms. Johnson knows that 12 hours is a long time to spend with strangers. She hopes that the initial walk to the performance site will be a way, she said, "to shed what we need to shed from the day.""I'm really relying on people to be ready to shift," she said. "That's going to be really necessary for this night to feel good. And that relates to what this whole night is about, which is about shifting so that we can shift the world."The audience, in other words, must be a willing participant and is very much a part of the piece itself. (An etiquette guide for the performance comes with purchase of a ticket.)"We are together and responsible for this thing," she said. "I think that that's good practice about being a responsible citizen. Why can't we enact this kind of responsibility in our lives?"Both she and Mr. Gordon are sure about one thing: the setting. "On Randalls Island, you can hear and feel the city, but you're also separate from it a little bit," Ms. Johnson said. "It's situated across from Rikers Island. I was like, all right, this is energy that wants to be exchanged and cleared and acknowledged — this feels like the right place to do this work."Mr. Gordon describes Randalls Island as being very old New York, which he likes. "All the beautification of New York — none of that has happened in how you get to Randalls Island," he said. "It's the old version of how you get somewhere. You really have to take the train to 125th Street and then you have to look for the bus stop, and it's a regular old bus, and then you say to the bus driver, 'Which stop do I get off for the Sunken Meadow?' And he says, 'I don't know.'"Laughing with delight, Mr. Gordon said: "It is kind of a secret little spot. That's how it feels to me."
Rock 'n' Roll Shabbat: the Spiritual Experience of Turning ...
It was 1984 when Dee Snider first asked me what I wanted to do with my life. The answer was, and still is, "I want to ROCK!" As the once dubbed "heavy metal rabbi," I've been exploring the question of whether rock 'n' roll music can support a deep spiritual/Shabbat experience. Given a rather conventional and full life as a congregational rabbi with two amazing children and a partner who is an OB/GYN resident, the truth is I don't really get to rock on a daily basis -- even though I need it man, oh how I need it! Sure, I infuse my daily routine with rock when I can. Lately, I listen to Anthrax's Worship Music on my commute to work, and I write sermons while listening to Perry Farrell and Jane's Addiction. Rock lyrics find their way into my teaching and preaching, but nonetheless, my relationship to rock is not what it once was. It's not the same as being in the mosh pit. It's not the same as being pressed up against the barricade in front of the stage. It's not the same as watching the house lights grow dim, waiting for the band to emerge and feeling the collective roar as the stage lights go up and the first notes wail. In the crowd you become part of an enormous community, when your voice merges with thousands of others, your individualism and ego are dimmed. For a brief moment, you can lose yourself to a collective consciousness and experience being part of something much greater. Today, almost everyone tells me they are "spiritual but not religious." Over the years I have been paying close attention to the experiences people have and cultivate that they consider to be "spiritual." Spirituality is so often characterized and caricaturized as meditation, yoga, chanting or sitting in a circle contemplating unity, oneness and the truth of our interconnectedness. In other words, for many of us, cultivating spiritual experiences is about trying to turn down the volume and pace of our daily lives. In the Jewish tradition, the spirituality of Shabbat often receives the same reductive, overly monochromatic treatment. It is not a new or radical statement to suggest that the concept of Shabbat -- and the experience of Shabbat -- is one of the greatest gifts the Jewish tradition offers its followers. The observance of Shabbat is said by many to be the "first labor law" in the history of humanity. We are commanded to "take a break" every week, to not permit our lives to be solely about work and the mundane. Shabbat, we are taught, should be an oneg, a joy and a delight. Indeed we engage in the unique joy and pleasure of being in the company of family and friends sharing meals and thoughts about deeper matters, and about Truth. This core Jewish tradition and observance is a profound teaching in and of itself. Somehow, the current normative American idea that spirituality is about slowing everything down has become prevalent throughout the organized liberal Jewish world as well. In one synagogue after another, and in one Jewish community after another, the prevailing wisdom and practice is that the "spirituality of Shabbat" is to be experienced by slowing everything down, by becoming more quiet and still. To be clear, this is not a bad thing at all. Shabbat prayer services including moments of silence, chanting and Shabbat meditation retreats for example, can be exciting, vibrant and authentic ways of experiencing the gifts of Shabbat. However, they are not the only way. There are different spiritual personalities in our world and for some spiritual types, increasing volume and speed is an equally powerful way to access an authentic Shabbat experience. In fact, while turning the volume down and becoming more still can support our experience of the spirituality of Shabbat, so too, turning the volume up on the Marshall Amp stacks can do the same thing. Rock 'n' roll can generate for me joy, delight, rest and a break from work and the mundane. Since I can't rock out every day, when would I rock, if not on Shabbat?Not only is my spiritual personality occasionally better served on Shabbat with a dose of rock 'n' roll, but it is an authentic Jewish experience to do so. Every Shabbat we symbolically reenact the moment of revelation at Mount Sinai. The biblical account of revelation at Sinai seems to me to be more like a rock concert than a silent meditation. "There was thunder and lightning, a dense fog covered the mountain, there was a loud horn and everyone shook. Mount Sinai was smoking, and trembling violently, the horn grew louder .. .all the people saw the sounds of the thunder and lightning, the blare of the horn and of the mountain smoking" (Exodus 20). One might argue that attending a rock concert, with a laser light show, fog and smoke machines, booms of horns and thunder, pyrotechnics perhaps, and a crowd of thousands all listening for Truth, would be the most accurate way to symbolically recreate revelation. There is also an implicit sensuality that runs through rock 'n' roll, ever since Elvis' hips first gyrated. While some might argue that rock 'n' roll, with its sensuality, passion and intensity is counter to the religious spirit of Shabbat, I would argue that on the contrary, Shabbat is an extremely physical as well as a spiritual time, when we are meant to take delight in sensual experiences of touch, taste and smells. There is a long standing rabbinic tradition, both in mystical Judaism and in the Talmud, that erev Shabbat, the evening of Shabbat, is a particularly auspicious time for sexual relations. Sexual relations on erev Shabbat are viewed in these texts as acts of joy with spiritual and potentially profound mystical ramifications. Sexual activity is viewed in this context as a sacred spiritual act with purpose that goes far beyond a simplistic notion of sex as an act of procreation. So in honoring the part of myself, and of many members of my community that crave the spiritual experience of "rocking out," we have created our first ever "Rock 'n' Roll Shabbat." At this service we moved our way through the matbeah, the traditional structure of a Friday night service by setting some liturgical pieces to rock 'n' roll or more upbeat tunes. We also insert rock songs into certain "thematic" prayers at key moments in the service. The service was, of course, followed by a party. For some, it was the most powerful Shabbat experience they have ever had.
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