Folk Hymn – Calabasas, California

K’ol ha’olam (“The Whole World”)

The whole world is a very narrow bridge

And the most important part is not to be afraid

K’ol ha’olam kooloh gesher tzar m’od

Veha’eekar lo l’fached k’lal

Jay Rockman is a freshman at USC and a dedicated follower of Jewish religion and tradition. His mother is Israeli, and as a child he learned to speak Hebrew. From grades 6-12 he attend Milken Community School, a prestigious private school in Calabasas, CA that integrates Jewish education into its curriculum. According to Jay, they would often sing Jewish hymns and prayers at assemblies or certain classes; the school would combine both the Hebrew text and the English translation into these short hymns. The third and fourth lines of the hymn are normally written in Hebrew characters, with this version containing the phonetic pronunciation of the words.

“The Whole World” stresses the importance of maintaining faith and focus amidst a potentially demanding or distracting world. This narrow bridge is a metaphor for the complexities and details of life; falling off the bridge refers to the ease with which one can be lead astray in life. If one is afraid to face the world and is constantly worried about what lies beneath the bridge, he/she will always be distracted by this fear. However, through faith in God (which alleviates fear), one can resist life’s many temptations and vices, and center their efforts on loving their family and doing good deeds for others (known as “tzedakkah,” this is one of the most important facets of the Jewish faith).