Sunday, January 29, 2012

Short Takes on Media Ecology and McLuhan Studies

So, this past November, at the big McLuhan Centenary blowout in Toronto (see my October post about it, McLuhan Then/Now/Next Soon), I met with Emanuela Patti and Matteo Ciastellardi, two European scholars who have recently started up a new journal, the International Journal of McLuhan Studies.  I've provided the link to the journal's website, although there's nothing to see there right now, but I believe there will be something up there soon.

Anyway, they showed me their first issue, which was actually quite colorful and attractive.  Here's their logo, which is pretty cool in its own right:

So, Emanuela and Matteo asked me to join the editorial board of the journal, which I was happy to do, and they also asked it they could interview me on video, which I agreed to as well.  

We wound up doing the interview in a lounge at our hotel after returning one night from that evening's activities, a poetry reading that I had been asked to MC, with open bar, at an art gallery.  When we got back, I was a bit disheveled, tired, slightly inebriated, etc. but I said, let's do it, we may not have a chance later, and I can always find the energy to talk about media ecology, at just about any time.

So, we did the interview, and recently they uploaded four short segments of it to their YouTube channel, Canale di mcluhanstudies, so I figured I'd share them with you here:

Each segment consists of my answer to a question.  The first is What is Media Ecology?:

The second is a question about the relationship between Marshall McLuhan and Media Ecology:

The third is a response to the question, What kind of discipline is Media Ecology?:

And the fourth addresses the question of, What is distinctive about the North American intellectual tradition?

So there you have it, a four-part Q&A, fittingly enough, given that McLuhan's final work on the laws of media is famously referred to as the tetrad.  

So, if these videos enhance your understanding of media ecology at all, or maybe your curiosity about the subject, then perhaps they have also obsolesced a bit of misunderstanding, or confusion, and I would certainly be thrilled if they in any way retrieved a spirit of inquiry, and finally, given that they are videos, it would be truly outstanding if their effects included a flip or reversal into learning more about media ecology by reading what's been written on the subject, by McLuhan, and Postman, and others (maybe even me).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book 'Em, Danno

Well, it's been a bit busy, what with getting ready for the beginning of the semester and then getting it off to a good start, and various and sundry other matters, mainly revolving around the written and printed word.  So, books have been on my mind, hey, it's an occupational hazard, and that being the case, the appeal of this video, The Joy of Books, which was first brought to my attention by my friend, Eric McLuhan, should be clear enough to see.  So go ahead, look, look and see:

And here's some text from the video's YouTube page:

After organizing our bookshelf almost a year ago (, my wife and I (Sean Ohlenkamp) decided to take it to the next level. We spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking, and animating books at Type bookstore in Toronto (883 Queen Street West, (416) 366-8973).

Everything you see here can be purchased at Type Books.
Grayson Matthews ( generously composed the beautiful, custom music. You can download it here:  

Now, despite the obvious charms of this piece, which is kind of  a Toy Story for books, it is not without its critics.  My friend Bob Blechman, who recently published a book of his own, Executive Severance, which I told you all about in my last post, Twistery Illustrated, left the following critical comment when I shared the video over on Facebook (and since he left the comment on my profile page, I figure I have enough rights to it to include it here, so don't go get on your sopa box about theft of intellectual property or nothing):

So...books become animated, that is, the content of animation. A book shop seems like the memory core of a mainframe computer. Display of visible movement of books on shelves replaces static perusal of stationary text. Though marvelous in scope and execution, this film has nothing to do with the process of reading, which is what books are really all about. Nice promotion for animation though.

Bob's comments remind me of Neil Postman's critique of Sesame Street, that the use of television and televisual techniques, including commercial advertising formats, to teach about the alphabet and reading,  in effect taught much more about watching television than anything else.  But then again, why shouldn't Bob echo Neil, since Bob was one of Neil's students, hence his self-described status as a model media ecologist.

And while I will grant Bob his point, I do think that this video is a celebration of the book as an object, the look and visual appeal of the book, of books, plural, in great number.  It captures something of the love affair of book lovers with the object of their affections, or if you prefer, their fetish.  I would go so far as to say, along the lines of some of McLuhan's commentary, that the video appeals to the tactile quality of book fondling (a topic Gary Gumpert used to bring up in his Mass Media lecture class, which I did lecture support for when I was an MA student), and even the scent, the aroma, the olfactory appeal of this most substantial of print media.

But lest this post be seen as too bookish, let me note that the title of the post is a reference to the classic line from the old TV series (not the remake) Hawaii 5-0.  At the end of the episode, when the bad guys were caught, the lead character, Steve McGarrett, famously played by Jack Lord, would utter the immortal words:  Book 'em, Danno!  And after all, that stop-motion animation is a rather arresting development, don't you think?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Twistery Illustrated

So, Blog Time Passing readers who have been in it for the long haul may remember a post that appeared during our first month of operation, back in March of 2007, entitled Modeling Media Ecology, which featured Robert K. Blechman, otherwise known as "Bob" and his famous Gilbert and Sullivan inspired video (it's still there, if you've never seen it, be sure to take a look), not to mention his blog, A Model Media Ecologist, which is still going strong.

And even if you joined our program while it was already in progress, perhaps you recall my post from April of 2010, Twitterature, when (among other examples) I cited Bob's efforts at writing a humorous mystery novel via a long series of Twitter tweets?

And I have had occasion, since then, for example in this past October's post, More Scenes from the Center, to mention that Bob's Twistery, as he termed it, will be published, in print, under the title of Executive Severance, by NeoPoiesis Press, the same good people (and I am one of them, so I know) who gave you Media and Formal Cause by Marshall and Eric McLuhan (as first announced here in the classic post from last February, Media and Formal Cause in Effect!) and many fine books of poetry too (check it out at

And I should mention the fact that Executive Severance, while a work of fiction, is delightfully full of references to media ecology,  and especially to Marshall McLuhan.  You don't have to be a media ecologist to love Executive Severance, or laugh at Blechman's extraordinary sense of humor, but if you are now or ever have been one, you will get a great deal of added enjoyment from your reading experience.

So, anyway, I am pleased to share with you the news that Executive Severance is now in print, and easily available online through all major outlets, including good old Amazon.  In fact, here's the link to go buy it right now.  Why delay?  You don't even have to bother finishing this post if you don't want to, just go get your copy.

What?  You're still here?  Okay, maybe you need some more convincing.  Let me get out the press release, and share some information with you.

Contact: Lance Strate, NeoPoiesis Press 
Phone: (718) 817-4864 

Executive Severance 
by Robert K. Blechman 
illustrated by David Arshawsky

Now, let's get a real good luck at that book cover, shall we?

Now, how about some old About the Author-type stuff?

Robert K. Blechman is not a cartoonist. —That’s Robert O.— Robert K. was born at the start of the turbulent 1950’s and spent the first 17 years of his life in a house on the western boundary between Maryland and the District of Columbia, that is, on the demarcation line determining voting and non-voting citizenship. He graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in English Literature and went on to earn an MBA in finance and a Ph.D. in Media Ecology from New York University.

During the Viet Nam War, Dr. Blechman received a moderately high draft lottery number and so avoided military service. He was gassed once during an anti-war protest in Chicago, but otherwise emerged unscathed.

Until recently he held a senior technology position at a major medical school. He has worked a variety of jobs, including summers as a counselor at Camp Zakelo in Harrison, Maine, and several semesters as an adjunct professor of media studies at Fordham University.

In the course of his corporate career Dr. Blechman has held management positions at iconic national institutions and has experienced a major bankruptcy, a major merger, downsizing, resizing and rightsizing. He could write a book. He was triaged from Columbia University Medical Center when royalty money from the Axel patents dried up; expelled from the New York City Board of Education on pedagogical differences; debited at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP by his counterpart after a major merger; remaindered at HarperCollins Publishers during a change in senior management and deconstructed when Olympia & York Real Estate Management went belly up. All things being equal, Dr. Blechman looks forward to retirement.

Besides the present volume, Dr. Blechman looks to his three children, Alexander, Sara and Eliana to validate his time spent on this planet. Otherwise it’s pretty much a wash.
Dr. Blechman continues to tweet at RKBs_Twitstery, discusses his Media Ecological musings and speculations at his blog, A Model Media Ecologist at and is hard at work on a follow-up novel to Executive Severance.

Executive Severance 
Robert K. Blechman 
NeoPoiesis Press/December 14, 2011 
5.5”x8.5” perfect bound, paper/ $16.95/ 148 pages 
ISBN: 978-0-9832747-5-9

P.O. Box 38037    Houston, Texas    77238-8037

And you want some reviews?  We got reviews!

Executive Severance, a laugh out loud comic mystery novel, epitomizes our current cultural moment in that it is born from the juxtaposition of authorial invention and technological communication innovation. Merging creative text with new electronic context, Robert K. Blechman's novel, which originally appeared as Twitter entries, can be read on a cell phone. His tweets which merge to form an entertaining novel can't be beat. Hold the phone; exalt in the mystery--engage with Blechman's story which signals the inception of a new literary art form.” 
- Marleen S. Barr, author of Envisioning the Future: Science Fiction and the Next Millennium

"A He Dunit.
Sometimes a little verbose, but OMG this is the best twitstery I ever read. It's got everything: narrative drive, mystery, comedy, thrills, tension, laughs. Blechman is on to something, a genre as important to literature as the invention of haiku in rhyme. ..."
- Marvin Kitman, famous critic

"A delightful 'twitstery' - a mystery written in real time Tweets - that is compelling, entertaining, and shows off what can be done in the 140-character form with style and mastery.    Blechman's delight in the language shows in every tweet - that is to say, every thread of the story. His plot is tight, tingling, and diverting.    Poe would have been proud of the new form Blechman has given to the mystery story."
- Paul Levinson, author New New Media and The Plot to Save Socrates
“Embracing the challenges found in publishing via the medium Twitter, Bob Blechman’s super silly story Executive Severance is stuffed with punny dialogue, clever character conditions, and a total lack of adherence to the old “rules” of storytelling. It’s a meaty tale told in deliciously rare, bite-sized chunks that I’d recommend for consumption to anyone hungering for fiction that satisfies. Well-done, Bob!”
- Michelle Anderson, ♥ mediaChick, author of The Miracle in July - a digital love story

And there you have it.  But enough about Bob.  Because, even if you read every tweet as Bob tweeted them on Twitter (and how many tweets can a twitterer tweet if a twitterer could tweet tweets?), and know the story by heart, what makes the print edition of Executive Severance truly exceptional is the amazing illustrations that accompany the story, produced by the acclaimed cartoonist, David Arshawsky.  To give you an example, here's an illustration taken from Chapter 1 of the book:

So, for more information about Executive Severance, visit or drop me a line via  But then again, what more do you need to know?  When it comes to the question of whether you should buy a copy of this book, the answer's no twistery, I mean mystery--just be done with it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fordham Hoops and a Reform Hazzan

Well, I couldn't resist commenting on this news story here, as it relates to my home institution, Fordham University.  As you many know, Fordham has a storied history when it comes to sports (not that it's any slouch on academics).  Ever since I started teaching here, over two decades ago (has it really been that long???), individuals of a certain age, upon hearing I'm a professor at Fordham, immediately say, "the seven blocks of granite."  In case this phrase means nothing to you, this goes back to the famous Fordham college football teams of the late 20s and 30s, and specifically the teams' offensive linemen, which included Vince Lombardi, of coaching (and New Jersey Turnpike rest stop) fame.  If you think I'm making this up, check out the Wikipedia entry on it:   Seven Blocks of Granite.

 Back in 2010, I posted an entry on the amazing Fordham flip, as it came to be known, an entirely unique baseball play, unprecedented not only for college ball, but on any level.  In that same post, I also commented on the news story about Fordham baseball's 150th anniversary, especially notable because the Fordham Rams, that's our mascot, the ram, has the most wins of any team in history (although it's only a matter of time before colleges located in the warm, southern regions catch up).  Anyway, you can read that post here:  Fordham Flips for Baseball

So anyway, this post isn't about football or baseball, but about basketball--I think the "hoops" in the title may have given that away.  And in case you're wondering what hazzan means, it's the Hebrew word for cantor, traditionally the individual who helps to lead the Jewish prayer service.  This requires proficiency in Hebrew, and also musical proficiency, as the Hebrew prayers are traditionally sung or chanted (the root meaning of cantor being chant).  The role has evolved over the years, from amateur to professional, and from lay to clerical.  I'll again refer you to Wikipedia for its articles on the traditional role of the Hazzan, and the contemporary role as a member of the clergy of the Cantor in Reform Judaism.

So, with that prologue in mind, let me turn to a New York Times article dated January 9, 2012, and written by Clyde Haberman. The title is At Jesuit School, a Pregame Assist From a Jewish Singer.  And it begins like this:

If you’re hoping for a talisman to improve your team’s chances of victory, why not make it a man with a talis?

Okay, already this might require some explanation.  A talis is a prayer shawl traditionally used in Jewish worship, in particular to be worn whenever the Torah is taken out. Somewhat ironically, in Reform Judaism, wearing a talis is optional for the congregants, although the clergy usually will wear one.  And yeah, you can check it out on Wikipedia, it's listed under the Sephardic dialect's spelling, Tallit. Now, back to the article:

That thought, at any rate, crossed the minds of officials at Fordham University, the Jesuit redoubt in the Bronx. Their men’s basketball team caught a hot hand during the Christmas break when a cantor named Daniel Pincus began singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before home games.

All right, Cantor Pincus!  And here's a picture of him, in case you wanted to see:

And guess what?  He's wearing a talis, man!  And hey, you can check out his official webpage: and even listen to a recording of him singing, well, not the National Anthem, but a Hebrew prayer, a Sephardic rendition of V'Shameru.  Okay, now back to Haberman's news item:

Normally, the national anthem is sung by the school’s choir, but the choir went on an out-of-state tour during the holiday recess. Mr. Pincus, 57, who is a cantor at Congregation Shaarei Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Riverdale, the Bronx, had already expressed an interest in performing the pregame ritual for Fordham.

Riverdale, in case you're wondering, is the section of the Bronx closest to Manhattan, just across the river from the island, and it's a lovely residential section--I had cousins who lived there back in the day. It's also the site of the next Media Ecology Association's annual meeting, hosted by Manhattan College, which strangely enough is not in Manhattan, but in Riverdale.  Anyway, if you're interested in learning more about
Congregation Shaarei Shalom, which as a Reform congregation is a sister shul of my own Congregation Adas Emuno, the link is there for your convenience.  All right, back to the story:

“I said to him then that we generally have the choir sing, so let’s see what occurs down the road,” said Julio Diaz, the university’s associate athletic director. Now, unexpectedly, Mr. Diaz found himself down that road. “So I picked up the phone,” he said, “and told him, ‘Cantor, I need your help.’”

I don't know why the choir wasn't available, but I will just mention that Fordham is outstanding in many ways.  But when in comes to music, well, not so much. So, please continue:

On Dec. 22, before a game against Texas State University, Mr. Pincus made his debut at the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, singing without his yarmulke and definitely without a talis (which is one way to render the Hebrew word for a Jewish prayer shawl). Fordham won.

He sang a second time a week later against Georgia Tech. Fordham won again. A few days after that, in the first game of the new year, the visitor was nationally ranked Harvard. Fordham, whose nickname is the Rams, triumphed yet again.

Suddenly, a team that had a losing record before Mr. Pincus showed up was on a roll. Could it be that the Jewish singer had become a good-luck charm for the Jesuit school?

The cantor, for one, doubted it. As “cute” as that notion might be, he said, and as “wonderful” as the interfaith aspect of the relationship is, he was performing as “a classically trained tenor.”

“What I wanted was to bring a classical approach and a singable approach to the national anthem,” he said. “I render it in a traditional way — not hip-hop, not jazz.” And, he added, “if I sing it well and with spirit then maybe it helps everybody tune up.”

The cantor’s singing style was important to Mr. Diaz. “I just want to make sure that we have someone who sings it in a patriotic, proper way,” he said.

Like Mr. Pincus, the coach of the basketball team, Tom Pecora, has a skeptical view of the talisman idea — up to a point. “As a college coach for over 25 years, I think it has a little more to do with defense and rebounding,” Mr. Pecora said. “But we’ll include the cantor if that’s what it takes to win games.”

His attitude reflects an element of superstition that is inherent to sports, perhaps more than to other phases of life.

There’s the school of thought upheld by a character in the 1988 baseball movie “Bull Durham.” You have to “respect the streak,” he says. If you think you’re winning because you keep following the same pattern — like having a cantor sing the anthem — then you are.

“We are superstitious, players and coaches,” Mr. Pecora agreed.

I won't comment on the relationship between religion and superstition, you may be relieved to know.  Or the relationship between religion and sports. And the relationship between sports and superstition, well, that's well known.

But there is another school, a more cynical one, especially for this age of the genuflecting Tim Tebow and his imitators. This comes from a classic boxing movie from 1956, “The Harder They Fall.” A prizefighter with a powder-puff punch and a glass jaw is on his knees praying before a match. Seeing this, a mobster tells him with a sneer, “That only works if you can fight.”

In basketball, it works only if you outplay the other guys. On Saturday, Fordham fell to earth. Despite having Mr. Pincus sing once more, the team’s home-court winning streak ended when it lost, 67-59, to Xavier University of Cincinnati. So it goes.

But even though the Fordham choir is about to return from its travels, Mr. Pincus expects to be invited back for future games. “It seems now like I’m becoming part of the family, which is great,” he said.

And why not? Among his talents, the cantor teaches the art of the shofar, the ram’s horn that is sounded on the Jewish High Holy Days.
From the ram’s horn to the Rams is not too great a leap.

And let me just note that there is no coincidence to the fact that Fordham chose a biblical animal as its mascot.  And as for Jewish-Catholic relations, well, this is New York City after all, and this is very much a New York story, and for that matter, a Bronx tale.

It's all about community, which is the theme of this Hebrew hymn sung by Cantor Pincus:

Now, Go Rams!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Put Me In Coach

Apropos of nothing, in response to a request I receive today, the phrase "put me in coach" came to mind, so I went over to YouTube and found this video, set to John Fogerty's stirring song, "Centerfield"--and I just had to share it with you!

I don't know about you, but this was just the thing to warm my heart on this cold, winter's day, a video version of the good old hot stove!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Extended Considerations

Over on the Media Ecology Association discussion list, someone raised a rather elaborate set of questions about Marshall McLuhan's characterization of media as "the extensions of man," which I responded to.  So, for the benefit of Blog Time Passing and its vast multitude of followers, I've taken what I wrote, cleaned it up a bit, and share it with you here. 

The concept of technology as extensions seems to have originated with Ralph Waldo Emerson, but my understanding is that at least during the late 19th and early 20th century it was a commonplace notion. The three main sources for McLuhan, I gather, would be Emerson, C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards (in The Meaning of Meaning), and Edward T. Hall (in The Silent Language).  

I believe that what is unique to McLuhan is the use of the term media in connection to extension, as opposed to technologies or instruments, and his heavy emphasis on media extending the physical body, as opposed to simply functions carried out by the body.

In this sense, prosthesis is the closest to McLuhan's discussion of extension, and he does uses that term, as he gets into the idea that every extension is also an amputation, as whatever part of the body is extended is also numbed in the process. He doesn't use the term cyborg, but that is so similar to what he is talking about that I can only imagine that he would have, had it been a more familiar term in the early 60s. 

Exteriorization may be related to extension, but the sense of it is somewhat different, as it works along an interior-exterior dialectic, and I believe it suggests more of a mental rather than a physical operation, projection even more so, as it suggests a way of viewing the world, not acting upon it. 

I have a chapter in Rob MacDougall's new anthology, Drugs and Media, where I take the idea of drugs as media and therefore extensions, but extensions that feedback into the self, and add the general semantic distinction between extensional and intensional orientations (note that's intensional with an "s" and not intentional with a "t"), to characterize drugs as intensions.  

Simulation I think has more to do with content than medium, or the effects of technology rather than the nature of technology, which is what extension addresses.

I consider technology to be an extension of biology, not necessarily of human biology, as it is well established that animals also have technologies of sorts. 

As noted, McLuhan's stress is on technology as extensions of the body, and that corresponds to how technology acts on the world. But we experience our body only through our senses (including the internal kinesthetic, vestibular and proprioceptive senses), so whatever extends our body also extends our senses, which would also have the effect of numbing or amputating our sense perception, and therefore altering our senses. The senses, of course, are a part of our nervous system, so we are also extending, amputating, and altering aspects of our nervous systems. 

Driving a car clearly is a cyborg activity, operating an elevator though is not so much, although we could see in the elevator mechanism an extension of skeletal structure and musculature. But at a certain remove, it does make more sense to talk about the extension of function rather than body. 

This would also be the case for techniques rather than technologies, for example McLuhan talks about games as extensions of social organization (I based a study of baseball as a medium on that point in an anthology edited by Gary Gumpert and Susan Drucker).

The idea of technologies as extensions of other technologies, of a new technology extending an older one, comes up in some basic mass media texts. It strikes me as a relatively superficial notion, in contrast the idea of technologies as emanating from the body/biology.

Paul Levinson has the more nuanced idea of remedial media, that is a new medium introduced to solve a problem created by the introduction of an older medium, e.g., window shades for windows, answering machines for telephones, VCRs for TVs, and this relates to ideas about media evolution that Paul also explores.  

Also, Ellul talks about the geometric growth of technology as we develop technological solutions to the problems created by our technologies, only to have the solutions create more problems that require more technologies to solve, etc. 

But to take McLuhan's view, even if an extension is an extension of an extension, the important point would be to trace the process of extension back to the aspect of the biological body that they all are extending, and especially for McLuhan, from there to the effect this has on the senses. I think we could take it further and say that the body is an extension as well (but of what? the mind? the spirit? God? evolution? the selfish gene? life?), although McLuhan didn't want to go there. But the main point is that technologies are extensions of organisms, even it they are extensions one or more times removed.

As for extensions of consciousness, from a materialist standpoint, any medium that may be said to be an extension of consciousness would be an extension of the brain and nervous system as biological organs. Perhaps it could be said that techniques are extensions of mind rather than body, but that would still bring us back to the brain, so I still return to function, or perhaps behavior as the phenomenon that is extended.

The way I've put it previously is that all organisms act upon their environment, simply by existing within their environment. Simply by performing the basic life function of metabolism, they alter their environment, and technology is just a further elaboration of this basic characteristic of life. 

But to say that there is no difference between biology and technology, e.g., eye and telescope, seems a bit extreme. When an organism alters it environment by the addition of extensions of itself, it places the extension between itself and its environment (which is why all technologies are media), and whatever comes between itself and its environment becomes its new environment (or at least part of it)--again, this is something I've said a number of times in the past, so apologies to anyone who might be tired of hearing it.

I feel that we've dealt with the issue of causality fairly well, either by reference to systems theory, where we understand that the extension creates a new environment or system out of which certain effects may emerge, or by recourse to formal cause, as presented in the recently published Media and Formal Cause by Marshall and Eric McLuhan. Some disagree, but I see the two as connected, as I indicate in the foreword to the book, and Robert K. Logan shares that view. 

I have also argued in the past that technological determinism is a straw man. I have an essay on this coming up in Ed Tech magazine, it should be out this month, I believe.

Extensions do not have to be physical. While they are rooted in the material world, the best way to understand them, in my view, is not as a what but as a how--as method, means, or in the sense that Kenneth Burke used the term in A Grammar of Motives, an agency.

Animals can be seen as extensions. Lynn White's classic study, Medieval Technology and Social Change, is all about the use of the horse for combat and farming. Ellen Rose published a marvelous little study on pets in Explorations in Media Ecology when I was editor. 

The same goes for humans. Lewis Mumford makes the point that the first machines consisted of organized human labor, e.g., as in the building of the pyramids.

And natural objects can be turned into technologies, and therefore extensions, a point I also make in the piece I wrote for Ed Tech.  A stone is not an extension, unless I pick it up and throw it, thereby extending my fist.  A stick is not an extension, unless I pick it up and use it to extend my arm and hand and finger, extend my reach and sense of touch.  That brings us back to method or means, So by themselves natural objects are not technologies or extensions, unless you want to frame all of nature as the extension of the supernatural.

And here ends my extended commentary.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


As we begin the secular new year, we might well reflect on our good fortune in being able to live our lives in relative comfort and safety, compared to what so many experienced not so very long ago.  And we would do well to give thanks for those with the courage to remain righteous in dark times, and let their actions serve as an example to guide and inspire us as we face whatever shadows we may encounter in our own time.

My cousin in Israel shared the following music video with me, which I found very moving in the story it relates (sung in Hebrew, with English subtitles), and in the stunning vocals of Keren Hadar.  According to the write up on YouTube, the song, written by Dalia and Shaul Harel, Dan Almagor, and Rafi Kadishzon, was "written in honor of Andree Geulen on the occasion of her 90th birthday. In Belgium, during the Holocaust, she undertook the rescue of many Jewish children."

The song's YouTube page also provides an extended explanation of how the song came to be:

A song is born. 
In summer 1942, as persecution of Belgium's Jews began, an underground Jewish group took form in cooperation with the Belgian underground and set out to rescue Jewish children by hiding them in various places around the country. The most active team consisted of twelve-women, mostly non-Jewish, who managed to hide some 3000 children. This admirable clandestine campaign was unique by the complexity of its structure and the degree of its success. 
The only survivor from the team today is Andrée Geulen, and on September 4, a great number of the children who had been hidden celebrated her ninetieth birthday. The celebration included a screening of a DVD in which singer Keren Hadar performed a song in her honor. The song stirred a great deal of emotion. 
This song, composed very shortly before the event, arose from an impulse on the part of one of the hidden children — Shaul Harel, who today is a professor of pediatric neurology. 
... and this is how it happened: 
One warm summer day at the Isrotel Dead Sea Hotel, the Harel family was visiting for a performance of the opera Aïda at Massada. Shaul Harel was lolling alone in the whirlpool bath. As the warm water and the complete solitude began to take effect, he wondered intensely what gift he could bring to Andrée for her birthday. "After all, she already has everything. After the war, she married a Jewish attorney, they were blessed with two daughters and with grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and to this day she is surrounded by the love of the children she rescued." Suddenly, as to Archimedes in his warm bath, the Muse descended to him. Although he did not emerge with a mathematical equation — since mathematics was never his subject — he just as suddenly decided to write her a poem. And this is not to be taken lightly, since for many years he had written nothing but medical documentation and articles. The warmth of the water and the atmosphere brought lines tumbling into his mind, and as if possessed, he burst into the hotel room and told his wife Dalia to sit down and transcribe because otherwise the lines would "get away" from him. His wife raised her eyebrows, thinking that the desert heat had overpowered him. But she consented and soon a poem was on paper telling Andrée's story. Shaul's imagination took him further and he said that the poem should be set to music and his favorite singer, Keren Hadar, should perform it. Since the poem was written in free verse, Dahlia worked rhymes into it. The poem was read to Keren and she was moved to tears. She said that it was suitable for setting to music and that she would like to sing it. She recommended Rafi Kadishzon, a prolific and well-known composer. Rafi heard the poem, liked it, and immediately recommended Dan Almagor, a master of the Hebrew word, to adjust the text for the music. In the end, Dan Almagor contributed greatly to the rhythm, to the refrain, and to the perfect fit of the lyrics. 
All this occurred in the course of two weeks. A week later, the song was recorded, the DVD visuals were prepared, and copies were printed with graphics and with a French and English translation. Everyone who saw it was moved, and now here it is for you.

And for the inspiration, poetry, inspired musical composition, and generosity in sharing these beautiful sounds, images, and story, we can also be grateful.