These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Turkey 2018: Day 2 — Uplifting Prayers

Posted on February 22, 2018 by Morane Bensoussan

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After an eventful day visiting Istanbul’a main synagogues and touring around Buyukada island, popular summer destination among the Turkish Jewish community, we took the last ferry back to the city for an evening at “Aleph”. Aleph is the youth movement affiliated to the high school we will be teaching in tomorrow and on Friday. Thanks to two JDC fellows – Ruthie and Tuli – in placement here, we had the chance to encounter the Carmiel dance troupe for a preview of their dance show – scheduled for the 24th March. We attended their rehearsal and were amazed by the energy and devotion they expressed through dancing.

Sitting down on the floor of the aleph dance studio, I was caught by many aspects of their performance. By the dance teacher herself, screaming in Turkish: “one, two, three, four, and five, six, seven, eight!” again and again, attentive to every possible misstep. By their smile, by their joy, despite the continuous flow of “No, no, no! Again!”. By the Jewishness of the whole experience too: a mix of traditional Sephardic movements, Israeli rhythms, and left-side-chest striking as the pop song lyrics preferred having sinned before God. But most of all, by the energy and life force filling the room. “Our rabbis teach that a man should pray with all his body”, declaimed Levi Cooper at the end of their performance, “and tonight, watching you, I saw uplifting prayers, thank you!”. So l’chaim to a great evening with this inspiring community!

Morane Bensoussan