LILITH - The Independent Jewish Women's Magazine
The Music Even Deaf Jews Can 'Hear'
The child of Holocaust survivors, Miller moved to the U,S. from Landsberg, Germany at the age of two. Her first break came as a teenager when a woman visiting the mikveh - the ritual bath operated by Miller's parents - heard Naomi rehearsing a song for a high school show in the mikveh waiting room. The woman asked Naomi to perform a Mother's Day program at the local Yavneh Academy in Paterson, New Jersey.
Through music, Miller, a speech therapist, feels she's been able to vent her emotions and deal with two major events in her life: the legacy of the Holocaust and her son Philip's deafness. Miller has founded two organizations in New Jersey: Parents for Deaf Awareness, a support group, and the Jewish Deaf and Hearing Impaired Council, which raises funds for interpreters and sensitivity training in the Jewish community. Her album, 'Keeping Our Dreams Alive', includes wacky sign language illustrations (her son Philip dressed as Big Bird signing) for the song 'Koo-Koo-Ree-Koo.' Miller's husband, Harvey, a lawyer and an amateur Israeli and ballroom dancer, signs his wife's concerts. 'Why do the Deaf come to my shows? They respond to the graceful poetry of Harvey's fingers, which are like dancers in the air. Harvey transfers my sung emotions into his hands, and the deaf 'hear.' It's very moving.'
Miller delivers up a variety of Jewish music with an old fashioned, campy, sometimes schlocky, lusty, unselfconscious passion. She's not afraid of comedy ("Midnight in Paramus"), sentimentality ("Papa Can You Hear Me"), social action ("Tell Them We're Still Here"), English, Hebrew, Russian, Yiddish or Ladino. Miller enjoys herself, and so will you.