Klezmer Festival at Ascent

by Ruth Fogelman

This year's Klezmer schedules: at Ascent / the music

My time at Ascent last summer during the annual Tsfat Klezmer Festival was so special. Firstly, my room-mates: although there were four different girls in my room each night, all of them were so considerate and quiet both at night and in the morning. And when we did meet, it was a pleasure.

Secondly, coming down to breakfast each morning: Rivka Levin, responsible for the kitchen in the morning, had the most beautiful smile in the world, and a disposition to match. What a pleasure to be greeted by her each morning! Everyone else at breakfast, too, had a smile and a good word. These are all people with whom I want to continue contact, and indeed, I exchanged telephone numbers with many of them.

Next, the intensity of the learning: 9:15 - learning; 10:30 - learning or tour; rushing back for Rabbi Howard Hoffman's learning at 1:30. On the Tuesday, Rabbi Hoffman led a psycho-drama group based on the Biblical narrative, in a home close to Ascent at 5:00 p.m. - soon after he had finished learning that afternoon. Another afternoon I rushed back for Rabbi Schwartz's teaching at 5:00 p.m.: insights into Hasidic Music. And at night: the Klezmer Festival. One evening I came back early (10 p.m.) in order to nap before the midnight happening at Ascent. Rabbi Hoffman saw me. "Want to join us in learning?" he asked. "We're about to start."

And then there was Michael Levy, the Jerusalem yeshiva student/ story teller. He had us mesmerized by his story-telling at midnight under the clear night sky and full moon. Again, while we were waiting to leave for the bus on Thursday afternoon, we met in the study hall and Michael told his stories.

Another special guest was Rae Eckman, the calligrapher whose art work decorates the walls of Ascent, and the pages of the Ascent Quarterly. I sat next to her in class, and, fascinated, watched her create a piece of abstract art in front of my eyes, while at the same time she participated in the class. I felt privileged to see the work I admire take form under my eyes.

And, of course, Rabbi Shlomo Schwartz and his wife, Olivia, your scholars' in residence. "Schwartzie" was teaching during the day, and telling stories at midnight. The story, how as a yeshiva student, he found himself in the trenches during the Six Day War, was truly amazing.

I know a tremendous amount of thought and planning go into your seminars. But this one, I believe, had an extra portion of Divine Providence when so many special people were all there at the same time.


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