Two bright Sundays in May put a joyful cap stone on our shule year by celebrating local activism, Yiddish culture and community. On May 7 Shule families sat on picnic blankets, as they enjoyed a performance by A Besere Velt (ABV), our Yiddish Chorus, including some of our current teachers, Pauli (Giml class) and Mona (Alef class). The event was a joyful effort to connect two of BWC communities thriving programs, the Shule and the A Besere Velt chorus. ABV intentionally chose accessible songs for our students and opened with the Hebrew and Yiddish versions of Hine Ma Tov/ Oy vi gut followed by Bella Ciao. The chorus then belted out Yugnt Himn, the Yiddish youth anthem of resistance, made popular by Jewish lithuanian youth in vilne during World War II. To close, the Shule community listened as Ale Brider was introduced and the chorus members explained how lines were added to respond to the current political moment. The song celebrates “the belief that we all share a common humanity: mir zaynen ale brider, we are all brothers, and mir zaynen ale shvester, we are all sisters – in other words, we are all fellow humans, in a completely non-binary sense. In the face of homophobia and anti-immigrant hysteria, we added mir zaynen ale freylekh – we are all gay – and mir zaynen ale pleytim – we are all refugees.” After the concert, a few Shule students approached the members to ask if they could join the chorus too!
Two weeks later, on our final day of Shule classes, teachers invited parents in to celebrate the year’s learning with their kids. The kindergarteners counted up their mitzvahs as they learned about ways of being a mensch; the Alef students shared their homemade Jewish calendars featuring holiday dates; the Hey families crowded into Runkle classroom to listen to the students report back on their interviews with community activists and the Daled class shared the treats from recipes from the global jewish diaspora.
A final day of Yiddish dance classes also put a joyful close to the year. Adah Hetko, local Yiddish dance teacher and composer, was joined by Nat Seelan, the band leader of Ezekiel’s wheels and renowned klezmer educator, who led Yiddish dance classes for the younger kids and their parents, as well as for the older classes. This was the first partnership of Yiddish dance classes and Shule students in many years and left a smile on everyone’s faces.
All photos by Tess Scheflan