In Search of Jewish Nightlife: Class Fieldwork in Berkeley Synagogues

Guidelines for a class debriefing session after two field trips in Berkeley at the end of the Sukkot Festival.

  1. Setting

– Where (location, real estate, interiors)

– How (to get there, to get inside)

– Who (genders, ages, attires)

– Languages (of prayer books, spoken, sung)

– Atmosphere & relationship with locals (welcoming, unwelcoming, indifferent…)

  1. Music & Sound

– Voices: gender, style

– Instrumentation (yes, not, if yes: what kind/s?)

– Melodies

– Chants (and Modes)

– Rhythm (clear beat; flowing rhythm)

– Texts

  1. Body language(s)
  1. Food
  1. Main Topics / Big(ger) Pictures

– The “I” in the fieldwork (individual perspectives, emotions, etc.)

– The “We” in the fieldwork (group visits)

– Comparative approaches to fieldwork (visiting more than one site)

– A sense of otherness

– How it felt to be there with other students

– The original assignment: nightlife

– The original assignment: holiday (festival of Sukkot/Simchat Torah vs. a “ regular” Shabbat evening)

– Any other topics

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