One participant shared this feedback:
"You brought us into the world of Piyut with a welcoming wide smile and delicious food, tastefully presented. The Moroccan decor and Tsipi’s attire and her twinkling eyes with endless longing for her childhood experiences were magic keys that opened the gate to the world of Piyut.
The balanced combination of knowledge and spirit enriched both the mind and the soul, that doesn't know how thirsty it is for that poetic world, obscure and beautiful, and which highlights the ancient Hebrew language of past generations.
You invited us to this poetic world through all the senses! We felt the piyut through body and soul. We stroked the glorious words as we visited Jewish homes in Spain, Morocco, Yemen, Iraq and Israel.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Thrilled with the turnout and the impact of the latest program from our Integration of the Arts Initiative. We spent the afternoon with educators from all over the Bay Area for a sweet taste of Piyut, Hebrew poetic liturgy.
Many thanks to our wonderful partners from Piyut North America, JCC of the East Bay, and Tehiya Day School; to our fearless leaders, Rabbi Tsipi Gabai and Vavi Toran, and to each of the educators who attended and have returned to their classrooms or communities ready to engage young minds with new and wonderful tools.
A window into the work:
We transformed the space with rugs, artifacts and props to create a festive and lively atmosphere. We opened the program with traditional music in the background and delicious Middle Eastern food in our bellies.
We presented piyutim as the sound track of the Jewish people, and discussed the contemporary revival of this music in Israel and around the world. Rabbi Tsipi Gabai shared her personal strong connection to piyutim through her history from home, synagogue and her rabbinic studies.
We dove deeply into five piyutim, with an examination of the text, the origin, poetic elements, and community of origin. Rabbi Tsipi Gabai with the aid of two musicians - Katja Cooper on percussions, and Rachel Sills on the Oud, taught each piyut. Katja demonstrated on the different percussion instruments, their origin and purpose and Rachel introduced the Oud which is perhaps the instrument most associated with Middle Eastern music.
Midway through the program we introduced a reflective tool encouraging participants to complete one of the statements:
“Singing piyutim connects me to…”
“Singing piyutim connects me to teaching about…”
We then formed a circle and improvised a dance interpretation of their responses, which included concepts and words including: past and present, heartbeat, happiness, ancient, roots...
We introduced curricula and books for teaching Piyutim in the classroom and gave participants kits including 18 recorded Piyutim and Mizmorim created by Piyut North America.
Toward the end of the program, we shared our learning and were blown away by the impact, just in a few hours.
22 participants attended, representing three day schools, six synagogues, several private tutors, one Hebrew immersion program, and one preschool, from all over the Bay Area and as far as Lake Tahoe Region.
For more information on Piyut, Integration of the Arts or upcoming professional development opportunities, email VToran@JewishLearningWorks.org.