promise of dawn

dark mornings

As the north­ern hemi­sphere moves deep­er into win­ter with less light for each day, our morn­ings begin near dawn. This is a beau­ti­ful time of begin­nings and promise. While the sounds we hear each morn­ing are not those of birds chirp­ing and chil­dren learn­ing, but the clank­ing of men at work, even these call out for bless­ings. I recall a favorite melody Rab­bi Neil Comess-Daniels, a class­mate, com­posed for the begin­ning of ברוך שאמר (baruch she’a­mar) the first of the פסוקי דזמרא (pesukei dez­im­ra) recit­ed at the begin­ning of the “morn­ing cheers”. I rarely hear any­one sing it, though I believe it express­es the text beau­ti­ful­ly.

mark sings neil’s ברוך שאמר


written or spoken

This came to mind when I learned from Avi­gail that she is involved with a project called “Sha­har­it: A Think-tank for new Israeli Pol­i­tics” and its Eng­lish lan­guage pod­cast “The Promised Pod­cast” …being a pod­cast for any­one who wants to under­stand Israel beyond the head­lines. Or, as they write:

Final­ly, after thou­sands of years and so many desert sojourns, it’s here! Grip­ping dis­cus­sion and per­spec­tives on Israeli pol­i­tics and cul­ture. You’ll won­der how you ever lived with­out it.

the promised podcast

the promised pod­cast

Pod­casts are not my medi­um of choice. My BA was in music and I’m rather attuned to sound, but I did not have an iPod until I need­ed a new phone in Feb­ru­ary of 2011. I had my hear­ing checked in late Octo­ber, learn­ing that my hear­ing is quite fine (for my age). While I’m begin­ning to lose those upper reg­is­ters, I’m nowhere near need­ing an “aid”. I rel­ish the “Silence” (which I owned for many years).

I appre­ci­ate Oscar Wilde’s com­ment in “The Crit­ic as Artist”:

Since the intro­duc­tion of print­ing, there has been a ten­den­cy in lit­er­a­ture to appeal more and more to the eye, and less and less to the ear which is real­ly the sense which, from the stand­point of pure art, it should seek to please, and by whose canons of plea­sure it should abide always.

Nonethe­less, I’m a text guy. I don’t lis­ten for my infor­ma­tion, I read. Even though I pre­fer to read, one of the rare plus­es of need­ing to dri­ve while liv­ing in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia was the time I would spend in the car lis­ten­ing to var­i­ous news and infor­ma­tion pro­grams. Oth­er­wise, when I sit at my desk with my com­put­er in front of me (which is the vast major­i­ty of my time), I read and write. If I’m doing chores in the apart­ment, or cook­ing, and I’m alone, I will some­times turn on my iTunes, set the music library to ran­dom­ly select any­thing from the (cur­rent­ly) 14,771 “songs” amount­ing to 76.7 days, or 75.17 GB of files. I like to start out the selec­tion with some­thing from the 1,347 “songs” amount­ing to 36.4 days that I’ve not yet heard since adding them to the library. [Yes, that’s an odd ratio. And a lot of lis­ten­ing yet to do.]

walking and talking

How­ev­er, there are times when I will go for a walk alone. Most of these walks are with­in a 7‑block radius from the apart­ment: to the library, the cob­bler, the vint­ner, the clean­er, one or anoth­er mar­ket, the post office, (not the butch­er, the bak­er, nor the can­dle­stick-mak­er); the usu­al neigh­bor­hood errands. These jaunts are too short to mer­it plug­ging the ear­buds into the phone and lis­ten­ing to any­thing oth­er than the city’s sounds. Oth­er times I will walk for a mile or more. These longer walks might be for exercise/pleasure or for an errand beyond the imme­di­ate ‘hood. In such a case, I will plug in, and, if the city streets are qui­et enough I can hear some­one talk­ing on a pod­cast.

It was on such a walk one morn­ing in late Octo­ber when I was final­ly able to sam­ple the “Promised” pod­cast. The ses­sion I hap­pened upon was the one record­ed imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the release of Gilad Shalit. The ini­tial seg­ment had Ger­shon Baskin as it’s guest. Aside from his dis­cus­sion of the role he played in the release of Shalit, I learned that he and the three reg­u­lar dis­cus­sants on the pod­cast are all “grad­u­ates” of Young Judaea. I sud­den­ly felt a spe­cial kin­ship, as I was also deeply touched by my expe­ri­ence in Young Judaea.

some movements end in a whimper, others due to success

Both the inter­na­tion­al­ist Jew­ish left that con­sist­ed of first-gen­er­a­tion Amer­i­cans (and their chil­dren) and the Zion­ist youth move­ments that helped cre­ate the State of Israel had thou­sands of adher­ents in the ear­ly and mid­dle 20th cen­tu­ry. They are near­ly non-exis­tent today at the begin­ning of the 21st cen­tu­ry. Both of these move­ments (though antag­o­nis­tic towards each oth­er) added a vibran­cy to Amer­i­can Jew­ish life. What hap­pened? I am not a his­to­ri­an, but I know from per­son­al expe­ri­ence that most of the chil­dren of the immi­grant mem­bers of YKUF rose out of the work­ing class, became pro­fes­sion­als and, while they main­tained a fond­ness for Yid­dish, were not able to cre­ate Yid­dish speak­ers and read­ers of their chil­dren (the third-gen­er­a­tion Amer­i­cans). Among the Zion­ists on the oth­er hand, they were often so suc­cess­ful in impart­ing their ide­ol­o­gy (as was the case wtih the Habon­im ken (“nest” as in group of young­sters) in Los Ange­les) that the entire lead­er­ship made Aliyah leav­ing those behind to strug­gle, often unable to main­tain the con­ti­nu­ity of the group.

While I had grown up in a Yiddishist/Internationalist home, my par­ents intro­duced me to Zion­ism in my ear­ly teens (I think for the sake of using the local Habon­im sum­mer camp). I con­tin­ued my involve­ment dur­ing the year, accept­ing the nation­al­ist argu­ment. It was in the Habon­im Make­lah (cho­rus) that I met Bonia Shur. But, when the reign­ing hadracha (lead­er­ship) made aliyah and the social fab­ric of our ken dis­solved, I looked for anoth­er group. Our fam­i­ly friends in the Bay Area had long been involved in Young Judaea, but its non-polit­i­cal nature had not been attrac­tive. Nonethe­less, I con­tact­ed the local group and attend­ed some gath­er­ings. The Young Judaea group in Los Ange­les in the ear­ly ’60s was much more intel­lec­tu­al­ly involved than was Habon­im. I don’t remem­ber ever par­tic­i­pat­ing in a dis­cus­sion of Jew­ish thought in Habon­im. But at reg­u­lar meet­ings at the home of our Young Judaea madrich (he must have been in his ear­ly 30s, with a young fam­i­ly; he lived in a duplex on 6th St. between Fair­fax and La Ciene­ga) we enjoyed dis­cus­sions of the work of Mar­tin Buber and A. J. Hes­chel.

In the process of becom­ing more active in Young Judaea, I learned of it’s Israel Year Course pro­gram. Our fam­i­ly friends’ daugh­ter would be par­tic­i­pat­ing in it the year she grad­u­at­ed high school, 1964–65, the same year that I would grad­u­ate. This seemed like an amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty not to pass up. While now Year Course is mar­ket­ed as a gap year pro­gram, in the mid ’60s (and prob­a­bly for many years lat­er), only some­one who had been active in the move­ment could par­tic­i­pate. Because I was a new­com­er (I’d nev­er been to any Young Judaea sum­mer camp, and had been involved in the local group only a year), I need­ed to “prove” my accept­abil­i­ty by attend­ing the “advanced” pro­gram of the nation­al camp Tel Yehu­dah in Bar­ryville, NY along the Delaware Riv­er.

Though I was born in Spring­field, MA, and spent a cou­ple of years in Akron, OH, I don’t think I had been east of San Bernardi­no, CA since the age of four. I flew east on my own. I don’t remem­ber if I was met at JFK by some­one from Young Judaea or by my uncle who lived on Long Island. Be that as it may, I spent a great time at camp “Machaneh Avo­dah” (work camp), where aside from study­ing Zion­ist thought and inter­na­tion­al work­ers’ songs such as Bandiera Rossa I learned how to milk a goat.

machaneh avodah

mark (on the right) with oth­er campers, sheep… and goat at machaneh avo­dah

The Year Course itself was a won­der­ful expe­ri­ence. Though while many of the oth­er par­tic­i­pants were thrilled by the South­ern-Cal­i­for­nia-like appear­ance of Israel, I (hav­ing grown up in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia) won­dered why any­one would (should) feel any spe­cial con­nec­tion to the land if it were not for the Zion­ist idea (which was one of our text­books). Through­out the autumn and win­ter we lived in what was then the qui­et and small city of “divid­ed” Jerusalem. After break­fast at our “dorm” the San Remo hotel on the cor­ner of Strauss and HaNevi’im, we walked every morn­ing, up King George Street to what was then the Hil­lel build­ing on Bal­four Street for four hours of Hebrew study. The after­noons were filled with cours­es in Jew­ish his­to­ry, phi­los­o­phy, and Zion­ist thought, the phys­i­cal geog­ra­phy of Israel and more. The remain­der of the year includ­ed a month liv­ing with a fam­i­ly and work­ing on a moshav (Kfar Yehoshua), three months on var­i­ous kib­butz­im (Hul­da), and oth­er adven­tures.

On our return, I remem­ber a woman from Hadas­sah, at the time, one of the adult spon­sor­ing orga­ni­za­tions of Young Judaea, remark­ing that they often see grad­u­ates of the Year Course return­ing to the States and becom­ing involved in Jew­ish com­mu­nal life on a pro­fes­sion­al lev­el… some­times as rab­bis. The Jerusalem cam­pus of HUC-JIR had opened the year before my Year Course. I had walked past it many times. Lit­tle did I know then that in eight years I would be back, study­ing at that cam­pus. I know of oth­er col­leagues who also “came through” Young Judaea.

listen to the promise

Since that Octo­ber walk I have had oth­er oppor­tu­ni­ties to lis­ten to this “Promised” pod­cast. While I am not sure what it is that is promised, nor who it is that does the promis­ing, I know that each time I have lis­tened I have gained through the inter­ac­tion of the three pri­ma­ry par­tic­i­pants:

The whole first third of the Octo­ber 28th pod­cast is all about the state of high­er ed in Israel.

I encour­age you to give it a lis­ten.

listen to the dawn

Many orga­ni­za­tions, espe­cial­ly youth move­ments have pro­duced lapel but­tons. I have a num­ber of these made by Young Judaea. For some rea­son, Young Judaea has also been known as “Hashachar” (the dawn). This but­ton dates from the mid 1970s the peri­od when the pod­cast pro­duc­ers were active in the move­ment. I won­der if they ever wore it.



Date: 1977
Size: 5.2
Pin Form: straight
Print Method: cel­lu­loid
Text HashachaR

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

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2 Responses to promise of dawn

  1. Frume Sarah says:

    Did I know that you were a Music major??

    This was such a great post. Though I love music, I too find the silence to be filled with rhythms and tim­bres that have melodies of their own. Melodies I would not want to mask with exter­nal sounds.

    I look for­ward to lis­ten­ing to these pod­casts. Thanks so much!

    • davka says:

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it and will explore the pod­casts.
      Though we first met over 10 years ago, I’m sure that there are many things about each oth­er we’ve yet to learn. Though my “instru­ment of choice” is the recorder, I moved on to com­po­si­tion. While my most “famous” com­po­si­tion is the one described in the who is Mark Hurvitz page, I’ve not writ­ten any more about it. You can read about anoth­er com­po­si­tion on the page where I describe a radio pro­gram my broth­er and I pro­duced in the late ’60s.
      I was (still am) inter­est­ed in live, aleatoric, elec­tron­ic music.
      Believe it or not, there’s a path that I fol­lowed from there to com­mu­nal litur­gy.

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