Lulled into reconciliation

There is a common misconception that the only artists in the haredi population are the klezmer musicians.

Microphone (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
JERUSALEM-BASED singer and music producer Hanna Yaffe, originally from England, uses music and culture to create a space to enhance empathy and understanding between people who don’t speak the same language as she does or who have a different color skin or practice a different religion. The fact that she lives in a part of the world in which there is so much suffering has prompted her to collect lullabies written and sung during times of war and bloodshed. The lullabies, she says, contain cultural histories.
“They hold the heartfelt expressions of joy, fear, hope and despair reflecting stark contrasts. The melody communicates sweetness and love, while the words relate a deeper psychological complexity. It is the lyrics that can really express the pain of parenting in difficult times,” she says.
The collection of lullabies has been released on two CDs. The first is Birth in a Time of Bloodshed, an anthology of 18 wartime lullabies written in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Russia, Vietnam, Kenya, Lithuania, Germany and Spain and containing all the hopes, prayers and fears that a mother has for her child. The second is Lullabies from Jerusalem, an anthology of 23 songs drawn from the diverse populations and cultures of Jerusalem.
Yaffe, who is Orthodox, will be donating part of the proceeds from the sale of the CDs to the Parents Circle – Family Forum, a grassroots organization of Israeli and Palestinian bereaved parents and siblings whose common denominator of loss and grief has brought them together in an effort to replace hatred and vengeance with reconciliation.
SOME OF Israel’s leading thespians are graduates of the Nissan- Nativ Acting Studio, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Jerusalem branch with a festival of theater and street performances, workshops, a jazz concert and special activities for children. The festival, which runs from November 9 to 15, will begin with a colorful street performance in the plaza of the Gerard Behar Center at 7 p.m. on Sunday, followed by a gala indoor performance at 8:30.
Other venues during the festival period will include the First Station; the Theater Cellar (Hamartef) on Emek Refaim; the Nissan-Nativ Studio, which is located in Beit Elisheva; Givat Hatanach (opposite the First Station); Beit Avi Chai; and Beit Mazia.
In 1985, mayor Teddy Kollek and Ruth Cheshin, who was then the executive director of the Jerusalem Foundation, asked the principals of the Nissan-Nativ Studio to open a Jerusalem branch.
The response was positive, and the Jerusalem studio was established by Nissan Nativ, Arik Eshet and Michael Warshawiak, who has continued to head the studio.
A campus for use by all the schools of the arts in Jerusalem is currently under construction in the downtown sunken Menora Garden.
Meanwhile, Ofer Ravid, the artistic director of the Nissan-Nativ silver anniversary festival, is putting all the talented performers through their paces in countless rehearsals. Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat points to the Jerusalem branch of Nissan-Nativ as yet another example of the broad vision of Teddy Kollek, while Mayor Nir Barkat has hailed the studio’s enormous contribution to the cultural life of the city.
THERE IS a common misconception that the only artists in the haredi population are the klezmer musicians. But there is currently an art exhibition by haredi women in Tel Aviv, and there are drama and dance groups for haredi women in communities across the Green Line. In addition haredim – both men and women – paint, sculpt, dance, write poetry and books and play music that isn’t necessarily klezmer. For reasons of modesty the women do not act, sing or dance in front of mixed audiences, though some do play musical instruments for mixed and male audiences because a modestly dressed woman playing a musical instrument does not violate any halachic precepts.
Orthodox women who want to be actresses now have an additional outlet through which to study and perform. Chaya Leeder is a theater and film actress turned social worker and writer. She is now conducting drama classes for women on Wednesday mornings at the OU Israel Center on Keren Hayesod Street. On Monday afternoons she also leads a class in theater games for children ages two to five to help activate the children’s imaginations and improve their selfconfidence and their ability to cooperate with each other.