'tute 2: saturday
right-o, so where we last left the institute story, it was late at night and i was heading home. i hit the hay and woke up later than i had hoped. i quickly threw on some clothes for the day, said a couple prayers and got a move on. sadly, services were ending. happily, i ran into jacob feinspan and we had a nice stroll and schmooze. always good to spend time with him.
lunch came and i sat outside with a flock of the twenties crew. the food was good, and the stories were fantastic. the picnic benches look out over a pine valley. the sun was crisp and the cool air abundant. the natural serenity gave the space a real sense of majesty. the vastness of the land was filled with the chuckles, singing, and excited schmoozing of the folks at the picnic tables.
mid-lunch suzanne hustled down to let us know that mizmor shir was doing a reunion performance. i dropped my portabello sandwich and hightailed it around the building to hear. Mizmor Shir was the Harvard jewishly themed a capella group a few years back. eight or so of its members were at institute. they gave a great show.
after lunch suzanne led a discussion that sought to create a contemporary jwish sexual ethic for folks in our generation. it was fascinating. i hope someone will offer more info about how it went. about 30-35 of us got together for the conversation. It was convened on a grassy knoll partly in the sun, partly in the shade. It was a rather impressive feat that suzanne was able to get so many twenty-somethings together. The group was fairly diverse including rabbinical students from a few different programs, folks who were active in all the liberal denominations, a few who had spent time in the ortho world, artists, activists, educators, med students, law students, undergrads, labor folks, global peacniks, jewish professionals, and lots of other kinds of people. We started by forming smaller groups and discussing what messages we got about jewish views on sex and where we go them from. there were groups dedicated to messages from media, family, hebrew/day school, and one or two others that i can't quite remember.
I was in the group that discussed media portrayals of jewish sexuality. we named a dozen or so relevant instances. As we kept naming more and more an astute group member pointed out that they were all from comedies. We also noticed that the message seems to be that its okay to date non-jews (for practice) but important to marry jewish [as offensive as this message is].
The we regrouped and Suzanne had us study some texts that offered jewish thoughts on sex from different periods. the group i was a part of examined a Nachmanadies text that included some fairly romantic aspects as well as some troubling gender norms (unsurprising given that the text is from the early middle ages).
We came back and began to discuss what an ethic would look like. Many were careful not to denigrate casual sex though making clear that they don't prefer it. We talked about the need for communication around consent, health, and intention. We also thought a bit about the role of power dynamics in consent. My hope is that at some point there will be a compelling set of principles and actionable commitments that people will be able to sign on to publicly. I expect i will post more on this later.
After suzanne's discussion we broke and i picked up margie's superman sweatshirt as it was bound to get cold. We played ultimate for quite a bit including some youngins and eventually the vulgar bulgars (who incidentally are very good frisbee players). after an hour or so i decided it was time for some pre-dinner schmoozing. I ended up hangin out with Ruby-K, General Anna, Margie Klein, Shamirpower, Brent and Alison.
Soon it was dinner time, which on shabbat means intense mournful music. After some traditional singing i went for a walk with Benj and Joe to sing sea shanties. There is some odd musical similarity. People seemed intrigued by the songs of the sea and gathered round. benj taught us several. I mostly tried to keep up. My voice was less thrashed and i was mostly able to. After this, EAKO and Shira Fischer invited me to come help them setup the tent for the concert. I happily obliged. It was a chair stacking good time punctuated with some sweet singing and highly efficient table folding.
After a quick maariv it was havdalah time. As you might expect there were circle upon concentric circle of folks in the dark field around the candles. the singing was tight and included a nice sephardi approach as well as some more common ashkenazi niggunim. I was lucky to be sandwiched between julia and ruby. it was the best place to be, not sure how i ended up with it. after the end of the brachot, Russ and I got in with the last verse of shalom aleichem that talks about the angels leaving. we then chose a very upbeat carlebachy eliyahu hanavi and were quickly joined by the shugarebbe and several others for some sweet dancing. Gindi and I left and beat boxed on our way to pick up refreshments. We returned for the concert.
The vulgar bulgars were firing on all cylinders. they were really rocking...err, klezing. the crowd was loving it. the dancing was at a feverish pace and people were doing some funky stuff. i whipped out the kazatske i had learned from raffi bilek and then tweaked a bit. it went over well. EAKO taught me some of her ecstatic moves. I tried to pick up the mahrabu twist unsuccessfully. his maneuver is a well guarded secret. approximated by many, done correctly, only by him. the cuteness highlight was the levy quartet dancing as a family.
later in the evening several folks wanted to learn some kazatske moves i had put out earlier. i tried to do some teaching, and i think some folks will soon have it in their repertoire. it just, sort of, clicks one day. the dancing combined with the teaching led to a lot of dancing.
after the concert it was meteor shower time. BZ explained it deftly. That shouldn't surprise anyone as he teaches this stuff professionally. We impersonated little kids asking annoying questions. Marissa insisted that Emma had gum. Benj clarified that I had indeed started it. I in turn blamed Julia. It had gotten rather cold and so i went with ER, BZ, Jo, Ethan, EAKO, Benj, and Julia back to warmer ground. Ethan, while wearing short sleeves, continued to insist that 58 was warm.
after some more time when i turned in late at night; i was exhausted but very happy.
update: BZ is, of course, correct about when the concert he preformed occured. they also sung a few songs at the concert motzei shabbat. They did a hysterical song, don't worry it's shabbos, using the tune and structure of Bobby McFerrin's don't worry be happy. I wanted to link to it, but i don't think it is on the net anywhere.