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Remembering: Dirge & Farbrengen

Updated: May 9, 2022

April 29th, 2022 | 28th of Nisan, 5782 | Achrei Mot אַחֲרֵי מוֹת

Dear Beit Rabban Community,

We marked a meaningful Yom Hashoah yesterday at Beit Rabban, engaging more deeply with the subject of the Holocaust in grades 4-8. Today at our weekly Chativah tisch, we learned the Krakow niggun, and reflected on how it starts slow and melancholy, almost haunting, and then turns highly upbeat. Over the course of one song, our own middle school community moved from a dirge to a Chassidic farbrengen. Then we talked about how this song was written in Krakow, Poland as an ode to the city that was 25% Jewish before the war (NYC is only 13% Jewish today!), whose Jewish community was all but wiped out during the war, and who is currently experiencing a communal revival. This song musically embodies for me what it means to be part of the Jewish people, we suffer and we celebrate. At those times when either celebration or suffering seems far off, we remember collectively what those times past felt like. I shared this with our students as well as my belief that a large part of why we are obligated to remember-- whether the Exodus from Egypt, the Holocaust, or the founding of the State of Israel--is that remembering all these experiences should bolster our commitment to optimism. Jewish history should help us believe in the constant possibility of redemption, no matter how far off it feels. We affirm this as a community by coming together to commemorate and by coming together to celebrate.

In the weeks and months to come, we have multiple opportunities to come together to celebrate and remember the good. I hope you will join us, whether it is our first community-wide evening Yom Haatzmaut Celebration next Thursday evening, our annual Manna from Heaven gala on June 2, or our inaugural eighth-grade graduation on June 19.

May the scales of our collective memory always be filled with more stories of salvation, may we never forget the stories of our collective devastation and struggle, and may the combination of all these memories drive us closer and closer to a redeemed world.

Wishing you all a restful and rejuvenating Shabbat,


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