Monday, October 26, 2015

Staying for lunch

Today Ms. Kendrick and I had the honor of accompanying 28 Davis Academy Decibelles as they performed for the 2nd consecutive year at JF&CS' special program: Cafe Europa. You can read about last year's visit here. As a reminder, Cafe Europa is a monthly program that brings together Holocaust survivors currently living in the Atlanta area. This year, in addition to having an even larger contingent of Decibelles and needing a larger room at Beth Jacob for our performance (due to the great success of last year's visit) we learned an important lesson: the importance of staying for lunch.
After last year's moving encounter we all agreed that it wasn't enough to give our Decibelles a chance to share their beautiful voices with the guests of Cafe Europa, but that we also needed to facilitate an opportunity for the Cafe Europa crowd and our students to get to know one another. That happened today.

There are several striking and beautiful things that happen when The Davis Academy Decibelles visit Cafe Europa. First is that our students perform a blend of old and new Jewish music. Rather than dismissing the new melodies that the Decibelles sing (several of them written by me), the Cafe Europa crowd celebrated the spirit of the music as well as the timeless messages of the Jewish teachings that the music honors. Several commented that the tunes were new, but that the messages and the teaching endure. If you click here you'll be able to see channel 11 news coverage of Cafe Europa that was filmed on the day of our performance and includes a few shots of the Decibelles.

Also striking is the feeling of L'dor V'dor ("from generation to generation"). Seeing the joy in the faces of the Cafe Europa crowd as our kids sang, and then seeing the deep engagement and mutual interest over lunch, the JF&CS folks as well as Ms. Kendrick and I couldn't help but feel that we were witnessing the strengthening of a chain, the binding of the Jewish future to the Jewish past and present.

Though I spent most of lunch floating around to take pictures (see below) and make sure our kids were comfortable engaging in the rich conversations, I had one conversation that I think sums up the whole experience. A woman pulled me aside and said, "You know, it's so improbable that all of us would be able to gather here this morning. When you think about what Hitler tried to do, and all the challenges facing the Jewish people and the world, it's really improbable and so very special."

I agreed with the woman and I imagine many of you reading this feel the same way. But I also told her this, "I agree that it's improbable, but I also feel that it's inevitable." She instantly knew what I meant, but in case it's not obvious I meant this: It's inevitable that the Jewish people will live on, that we will continue to honor our past and build our future. It's inevitable that so long as we have voices we will lift them in song and join them in celebration of life and the magnificent strength and resilience of our people.

When it came time to leave I knew we'd achieved our goal when not a single Decibelle was willing to get up and go. Some of them tried to blame it on the fact that they didn't want to return to class, but most genuinely expressed the desire to remain immersed in conversation with the Cafe Europa crowd. So we did what any of us would've done. We let them linger. After all, what's the rush?

Below are some pictures from lunch as well as a video of us singing "Kol Yisrael" on the bus ride to Cafe Europa. As an aside, our bus driver was so moved by our singing that she called her son, a record producer, and told him to listen through her bluetooth headphones.

No comments:

Post a Comment