Thursday, February 05, 2009

RituaLab On Campus
RituaLab @ Wesleyan University
by Justin Wedes

The Storahtelling crew hit the campus of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, last weekend for an intimate and intense evening of prayer, song and introspection. Led by Naomi Less, the team also counted upon the musical musings of accordionist Justin Wedes, deep acoustic bass pickings and sermon-ing of David Schiller, and rhythmical doting of percussionist and puppeteer Anna Sobel. Before about 50ish students and community members at Wesleyan's Jewish programming house, The Bayit, Naomi and crew ushered the eager Shabbat-comers into a meditative enchantment deservedly entitled Her Majesty's Shabbat Service.

Of course a great Yom Tov doesn't end after a round of Shalom Aleichem and a hearty Shabbas meal- and The Bayit's grand nosh was one for the books!- but continues into the night with song, discussion and all-around enjoyment. So we found ourselves conversing in the many small and large overlapping circles of Wesleyan's tight-knit Jewish community. Reflecting on the central theme of our service- the oppressors that act as Pharaohs in our over-scheduled everyday lives- we spoke of the amazing struggles of living in the modern world and still remaining reflective and spiritual, "multi-tasking but meditative". We spoke of the joys of New York and the joys of Middletown, and finally we spoke of music: music of every variety and with every intention behind it. Near the end of the night, with the dessert table emptied and the only remaining audience members singing post-meal nigguns in a circle at the corner of the room, I instinctively reached for my cell phone to check the time before our long journey back to the city. Hesitating, I remembered the oppressors in my life- and quickly turned back towards the ruach-filled circle of singers without a care for all other matters.

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