Rabbi Lapidus Pens Tribute to Legendary Hank Aaron

Rabbi Lapidus Pens Tribute to Legendary Hank Aaron

Rabbi Lapidus honors Hank Aaron because of the profound shared humanity he stood for.

Robyn Spizman Gerson is a New York Times best-selling author of many books, including “When Words Matter Most.” She is also a communications professional and well-known media personality, having appeared often locally on “Atlanta and Company” and nationally on NBC’s “Today” show. For more information go to www.robynspizman.com.

Rabbi Micah Lapidus at home plate ready for the Braves in the World Series.
Rabbi Micah Lapidus at home plate ready for the Braves in the World Series.

Rabbi Micah Lapidus, director of Jewish and Hebrew Studies at The Davis Academy, is a beloved educator. If you know him, you’re also aware of his love of music and making a difference. Featured this week on the CBS Atlanta evening news, Lapidus has created quite a buzz with his new musical tribute to an Atlanta baseball legend.

Lapidus arrived in Atlanta fresh out of seminary 14 years ago, having just graduated from Hebrew Union College. While he grew up cheering for the Dodgers, he now roots for our hometown Braves and refers to Atlanta as the city where his children were born, and he and his wife Rabbi Loren Lapidus happily reside. With Braves fever at an all-time high amid the frenzy surrounding the World Series, Lapidus was inspired to raise his voice, setting out to honor the legacy of Braves legend Hank Aaron, number 44.

Hank Aaron’s quote inspired Lapidus to write a tribute to #44.

“I am also a musician and sports fan,” Lapidus said. “I love sports because, at their best, they honor something profound in our shared humanity: teamwork, discipline, and passion. I’m a musician because I know that music has the power to break down barriers, open hearts, and unlock the deepest parts of our hearts and souls. In my dream world, perhaps too big or too small, every Little League or seventh inning stretch that brings people together with sportsmanship and the wholesomeness that abides in sports should spell a message of resilience. In other words, a win-win for humanity.”

Ahead of Game 3 of the World Series, Atlanta’s Truist Park welcomed Aaron’s widow, Billye Aaron, grandson Raynal Aaron, and three of Aaron’s children, including his son, Hank Aaron Jr., who threw out the first pitch. The outfield displayed an enormous #44 in tribute to the slugger.

Aaron and his family were honored at Truist Park ahead of Game 3 of the World Series. // Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Image

Lapidus was inspired. He said, “When Hank Aaron died earlier this year, I found myself wanting to understand his life and legacy better. The more I learned, the more I came to see quite clearly that he is a true American hero. Yes, a record-setting athlete, but even more so, someone who pursued his craft with grace and poise, lifting up not only his own accomplishments but his team, and through his later philanthropic efforts, so many others. When I read the following quote from Hank Aaron, the song instantly revealed itself to me, title and all:

“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”

After Aaron, Atlanta native Joe Alterman was the second to come to mind for the rabbi. “We can all learn important lessons from Hank Aaron’s life and legacy,” Lapidus said. “He is a role model for us all. Joe Alterman is a kindred spirit. Our connection has its roots in our shared musicianship but has flourished from there. When I wrote the song, I knew that he was the only person who could provide the piano part that I hoped and dreamed of. I certainly hope the Braves win the World Series, rewarding the devotion of millions of fans and the hard work of this year’s team.”

Score of “Keep Swinging” by Rabbi Micah Lapidus.

The rabbi has high hopes for his new tune. “My hope for ‘Keep Swinging’ is that it will earn a place in the Great American Songbook, which has a surprising lack of baseball-themed songs,” he said. “I would love for this song to be part of the repertoire of every ballpark organist and for the lyrics and melody to be known to all fans of our Great American Pastime. Just as ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ was written from a Jewish point of view, so too is ‘Keep Swinging.’ Its message is really for everyone.”

While Will Robertson sang, played guitar and bass, and recorded and produced the song, Alterman played the three-minute, 20-second tune on the piano.

“When Rabbi Micah invited me to play piano on ‘Keep Swinging’ I was excited because I immediately fell in love with both the song and its message,” he said. “I could feel that it would be an instant classic that would truly honor the great Hank Aaron and bring a lot of joy to music lovers near and far. Aaron’s life and legacy is a gift to us all.”

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