Thursday, February 16, 2017

Praying with our Feet

5th graders doing written reflection in Birmingham. 
As I'm writing this post our Davis Academy 5th graders are in Birmingham, Alabama Menschology called, "Praying with our Feet."
visiting the 16th Street Baptist Church and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. It was that very field trip in 2015 that inspired the words and music of the 7th track on

Jews have a long history of praying with our feet. It's part of the inheritance of a people that are perpetually striving to make the world a better place. Whether marching across the Red Sea, from Selma to Montgomery, or for the endless righteous causes of every era, we know what it feels like when our feet our praying.

The phrase, "Praying with our feet" comes directly from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who famously said he felt as though his feet were praying when he marched as part of the Civil Rights Movement.

The lyrics to the song speak for themselves, but for those that are wondering, they're meant to evoke themes of the Civil Rights Movement. Justice denied, justice deferred, justice beaten and bloodied, but never losing faith. The lyrics move, step by step, mile by mile, over hills and through valleys, to the mountaintop, and beyond. The words, "Bridge by bridge/ town by town" evoke the strongest images in my mind, images like that of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

My hope is that Davis Academy students will keep this song in their hearts and on their lips as a way of connecting their own justice work with that of those who have come before them. My hope is that this song will pop into their heads whenever they find themselves enacting the values that we have instilled in them here at The Davis Academy. And my hope is that others who do the work of justice will find inspiration and affirmation in this song.

The Menschology version of "Praying with our Feet" is performed beautifully by Will Robertson, Alex Newberg, Rebecca Good, and Janice Durden.

You can listen to it wherever you stream music, learn more about it on our Davis Rocks page, and download it from CDBaby here.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Love Wins

Love Wins. 

It may not always feel that way.
It may not always be obvious.
It may not mean that there isn't a great struggle to get there or that real pain and suffering aren't inflicted along the way.
But Love Wins.
There may be wounds that never fully heal and scars that always remind.
And there will always be experiences and lives that are left unredeemed.
But Love Wins.
This is a hard earned truth of the human condition.
If we can recognize it.

The world is sustained by the breath of school children. 

So the Talmud teaches.
Because the breath of school children is the breath of learning.
It is the breath of becoming.
It is the breath of transformation
and the breath of hope.
It is the breath of the open-minded.
The breath of innocence.
The breath of curiosity.
The breath of reflection.
The breath of thirst sated by knowledge eventually toward wisdom.
It is the breath of now and the breath of tomorrow.

The 17th track on The Davis Academy's Menschology is called "Love Wins." But it should really be called, "Love Wins(The World is Sustained by the Breath of School Children").

That's because these two themes merge in the message and melody of this song. Love Wins is a song that honors children, teachers, and everyone who dedicates their life to ensuring that Love Wins. The title of the song is purposefully referential, inspired by and honoring the various causes that have taken "Love Wins" as their motto. For those that care to know, the song was written on 12/14/12 as an emotional reaction to the events of that day.

It is performed beautifully on Menschology by Eva Shell, Kendrick Phillips, and Will Robertson.

If you have thoughts about Love Wins (The World is Sustained by the Breath of School Children) we'd love to hear them. In the meantime, you can stream the song wherever you listen to music or download it here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Why The Davis Academy Creates Music

With the release of Menschology, The Davis Academy's 3rd full length album of original Jewish music written by our school rabbi, Micah Lapidus, it's as good a time as any to reflect on why The Davis Academy creates music.

That The Davis Academy produces and performs original Jewish music is a point of distinction among Jewish schools and Jewish organizations. Music plays an important role in many Jewish communities, but most communities don't actively support the composition and production of new tunes and melodies. Davis does.

The fact that The Davis Academy supports the creation of new Jewish music tells you a couple of things about Davis:

1) Davis Rocks. You can hear it when you listen to our music, but you can really feel it when you visit our school, especially when we're all together.

2) Davis celebrates the human voice. The human voice is celebrated and honored in countless ways at The Davis Academy. Children literally discover their voice during their years at Davis. They discover what they have to say, what they have to share, and how best to make themselves heard. Discovering one's voice isn't just about learning how to speak or write. We discover our human voice through art, through physical activity, through spiritual reflection, through singing, through recitation of ancient prayers and many other ways. The journey of discovering our voice is a lifelong journey. One way that The Davis Academy celebrates the human voice is by producing new Jewish music that brings our community together in song and invites the many voices of our community to create new expressions of our Jewish and spiritual commitments.