Performing a Hebrew Amulet

In class this week, we have been working on performance and compositional ideas stemming from our public class lab, Magic Spells. Next week, the lab will be centered on a shiviti birth amulet manuscript from Greece (dated 1871):

Amuletic Shiviti Manuscript [75.99]: ["Alef" or Birth Certificate Amulet] (Greece or Egypt, 1871)

The bottom section of this document lists biblical names of men and women on the right and left of the menorah shape:

adam ve-chavah
avraham ve-sarah
yitzchaq ve-rivqah
ya’aqov rachel ve-leah
mosheh ve-tziporah

Or (in English)

Adam | and Eve
Abraham | and Sarah
Isaac | and Rebecca
Jacob | Rachel and Leah
Moses | and Zipporah

A question lingered: where is Lilith (the female demon that the amulet is created to contain and cast off)?

Here is how the students in Jewish Nightlife performed this amulet with Victoria Hanna:

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Jewish Nightlife: Student Paper Topics

 

It’s that time of the semester. Students are working on their research papers. The process was prepared by the submission, several weeks ahead of when the papers are due, of individual Abstracts, or paper proposals.

As I provided feedback to students about their abstracts, helping them in fine-tuning their sources, and choice of topics, I also tried to summarize their research topics under general headings.

This year, the focus has been on the relationship between music and ritual (by circa 50% of the students), and on the related topics of folk (mostly, paraliturgical) music, of piyyut (or the study of liturgical poetry), and of Jewish mysticism. A small but substantial group of students is instead focusing on the ever-slippery and ever-fascinating topic of “Jewish identity.”

As always, I created a simple pie chart with my summary:

Jewish Nightlife 2017 Paper Proposal Topics

As a note: if I divided the proposals by discipline, or area study, we would have a clear majority of students working on ethnography and ethnomusicology, followed by papers in anthropology, cultural history, and literature.