The Night of Kabbalah, or, When Reality Matches the Classroom

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My friend and colleague, author Ruth Ellen Gruber, posted today on her Facebook feed about how the European Day of Jewish Culture is being celebrated in Italy this weekend. The Europe-wide celebration, which is now well into its second decade, draws crowds to Jewish sites, and takes place each year in the beginning of September.

In Rome, a panoply of events — ranging from site visits, to food, lectures, and, of course, musical performance — are being advertised under a general title that is particularly revealing of the nature of Jewish nightlife we have been exploring in class: The Night of Kabbalah.

It’s not clear how much mysticism is actually involved in this “night.” But all the elements we have been dissecting thus far seem quite present: a nod to Jewish exoteric knowledge, ritual, music, inter-cultural exchanges, and, of course, the night. Most events take place at dark, and have been drawing a crowd of 20,000, mostly non-Jewish, synagogue-goers.

Who knew…

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