Jewish Nightlife is Back! Fall 2017 at UCB

This Fall Semester Jewish Nightlife will return to UC Berkeley, and feature weekly workshops with the internationally acclaimed artist, Victoria Hanna (Jerusalem). The course will include history, performance, ethnographic fieldwork, and an in-depth study of Jewish protective amulets from The Magnes Collection.

Find out how to register here (for Jewish Studies) and here (for Music).

Stay tuned for more information, but in the meantime, enjoy Victoria Hanna’s video, 22 Letters…

…and read & download the course flyer:

Planning Research: A Summer of Student Paper Proposals

Almost all abstracts/proposals for this semester’s research papers are in (as planned according to the course syllabus). As it is often the case when empowering students to select research topics according to their interests and strengths, the variety of the subjects that will be researched by the class is stunning.

From the aesthetics of 18th-century Kabbalistic musical rituals to the development of synagogue music in South India, from the cultural origins of Israeli secular shirah be-tzibur (communal singing) in nocturnal liturgies to the roles of women in the synagogue, from comparative fieldwork in UC Berkeley Jewish and Catholic student religious gatherings to the study of (religious) nightlife in Israel, Korea, and Las Vegas, our semester seems to be producing a lot of original thinking.

In the midst of this diversity, however, are some core and consistent disciplinary approaches. As outlined since the beginning of the semester, the study of (Jewish) nightlife is necessarily a multi-disciplinary endeavor, and the approaches adopted by the students in the class seems to confirm just that. (Phew!).

Below is a graph the summarizes the disciplinary trends expressed in the abstracts submitted this week:

Jewish Nightlife 2014 Research Paper Topics

There are seven groups of papers, listed in order of magnitude:

  1. Religious studies and ethnomusicology (liturgy and piyyut)
  2. Area studies (Jewish communities in the global diaspora)
  3. Musicology (Jews and popular music in America and beyond)
  4. Musicology (Jews and art music in the synagogue, 18th-20th centuries)
  5. Comparative studies (ritual and nightlife in Jewish and non-Jewish communities)
  6. Gender studies (women in Jewish ritual)
  7. Intellectual history

Now, I guess we will have to wait for the papers to flow in to see the results of this semester’s work. Looking forward…

A Piyyut and Its Publication History

Kol berue ma’ala umatah (“All creatures above and below” [in Heaven and on Earth])
Bakkashah with acrostic “shelomoh” (Solomon)
Attributed to Solomon ibn Gabirol (Malaga-Valencia, 11th centurty CE)
On bakkashot see Idelsohn p. 157

Publication history (selection) based on Davidson’s Thesaurus
Otzar hatefilot, Vilnius 1914
Arba’h ta’aniyot, Constantinople 1780
Bet av, Livorno 1877
Bet habechirah, Livorno 1880
Bet ya’aqov, Tunis 1898
Bakkashot yerushalayim, Jerusalem 1913
Bakkashot rash”ad, Ms. Bodleian Library (Oxford)
Zavche shlemim, Constantinople 1728
Z”Y Izmir, Smirne 1766
Yigal, Jerusalem 1885
Yiztchaq yeranen, Jerusalem 1855
apa, Mezhirov (Ukraine) 1793
Liqute zvi hachadash, Warsaw 1879
M. Argil 1, Livorno 1878
M. Tunis 1, Livorno 1861
Machzor Elohei Ya’aqov, Jerusalem 1908
Meshat Binyamin, Jerusalem 1909 (Persian)
Mishmeret hachadash, Baghdad 1908
Sidur ya’avatz (Italy), Altona (Germany) 1731
Sidur tefilah, Mantua 1676

In class, we discussed how the publication history of a piyyut can be researched, and how it points to the following directions:

– Social history: impact of a liturgical poem on a given community, or on a network of communities across the global Jewish diaspora
– Intellectual history: the intellectual debates involved in the creation and diffusion of a piyyut, and the spiritual dimensions involved in its textual and musical meanings
– A “history of feelings” (in the nexus between text and music)

We discussed all of this around the fact that the class is learning and rehearsing the poem illustrated above.

Link

The Myth of the 8-hour sleep, or Nightlife between cultural history and popular culture

As we move into Week 6 of Jewish Nightlife, it’s time to take a look at how cultural historians understand the “rise” of nightlife in the Modern Era.

Here’s a link to an article in the BBC News Magazine:

http://m.bbc.com/news/magazine-16964783

Check out this reference:

In his new book, Evening’s Empire, historian Craig Koslofsky puts forward an account of how this happened.
“Associations with night before the 17th Century were not good,” he says. The night was a place populated by people of disrepute – criminals, prostitutes and drunks.
“Even the wealthy, who could afford candlelight, had better things to spend their money on. There was no prestige or social value associated with staying up all night.”
That changed in the wake of the Reformation and the counter-Reformation. Protestants and Catholics became accustomed to holding secret services at night, during periods of persecution. If earlier the night had belonged to reprobates, now respectable people became accustomed to exploiting the hours of darkness.
This trend migrated to the social sphere too, but only for those who could afford to live by candlelight. With the advent of street lighting, however, socialising at night began to filter down through the classes.
In 1667, Paris became the first city in the world to light its streets, using wax candles in glass lamps. It was followed by Lille in the same year and Amsterdam two years later, where a much more efficient oil-powered lamp was developed.

As we had discussed previously, and continue to explore during the coming weeks, the history of “Jewish nightlife” begins in the 16th century. It’s associations are with the prohibited, the mysterious, and especially the mystical. Through the influence of Jewish mysticism (often referred to as “Kabbalah”), new rituals were created, and existing night-time rituals acquired new meaning and significance.

It goes without saying that you can take a look at Evening’s Empire in our University Library.

A Historical Map of Jewish Liturgical Diversity

Historical Map of Jewish Liturgies (Nusḥaot-Tree-2.4.5)

This map, which was created by Aharon Varady and posted at opensiddur.org, is one of the best resources I’ve ever seen describing the rainbow of Jewish identities. Hat tip to its creator for summarizing so much in so little space, and with so much clarity.

We will spend some time in class going over (and over, and over again) this. (But you could try to match its various boxes and threads with your readings this week… then we can get to the music!)

Painting the Jewish Diaspora

Ward Shelley's Jewish Diaspora Painted Mindmap

This painted “mindmap” was created by Ward Shelley. I found it here. Make sure you click on it and view it full screen, and expand it to see its details.

I’ve published other diaspora maps and timelines in my “Jewish History in 20 Minutes” blog post, which I’m also re-posting below:

With all apologies to our colleagues in the History Department…

There are some strange resources online. I looked at this (a little simplistic, and only about the Jews, as if a diasporic culture did not always constantly interact with major, and minor, events), then I looked at this (according to this “Jewish timeline,” Adam and Eve were created in 3760 BCE), and also at this (a maniacally granular, decade-by-decade, month-by-month, “history of the Jewish people”). Wow.

Of course, you can read UC Berkeley’s John Efron, The Jews: A History (2009).

Or you can summarize several thousands of years in one image: the world, and its history, painted on a clover leaf, with Jerusalem at its core (1581).

Die gantze Welt in ein Kleberblat, welches in der Stadt Hannover, meines lieben Vaterlandes WapenDie Gantze Welt in ein Kleberblat, welches in der Stadt Hannover, meines lieben Vaterlandes Wapen 

Author: Bèunting, Heinrich
Publisher: [s.n.]
Date: 1581.

Scale: Scale not given.
Call Number: G3200 1581.B8

From The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (NBL Map Center) at the Boston Public Library (BPL).

More and more maps can be found online. Here are my favorite resources: