–Start getting excited for Summer Institute! Registration is open!–
Marcela Sulak and Rena Branson
Marcela Sulak is the author of the memoir Mouth Full of Seeds (2020) and the poetry collections City of Sky Papers (forthcoming 2021) Decency (2015), Immigrant (2010)—all from Black Lawrence Press. She’s co-edited Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres and translated four poetry collections from Czech, French, and, most recently, Hebrew. Her work was long listed for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry Translation and was awarded a 2018 NEA Translation Fellowship. Sulak is associate professor of Literature at Bar-Ilan University; she hosts the radio podcast “Israel in Translation” and edits The Ilanot Review.
Marcela’s course at this Summer’s Institute is called Eating the Bible, Writing the Table.
This course offers writing workshops based on four Biblical texts in which food plays a major narrative role. We will write using prompts based on agricultural practices and food preparation. As additional dimensions to the creative process, we will also prepare food and discuss home gardening design.
Tisha B’Av: On Tisha b’Av the exercises will not include eating. Biblical texts will be studied, but the focus will be on scarcity.
Rena Branson is an educator, musician, and prayer leader. Through a labyrinth of circumstances, she met her Chassidish father for the first time in 2014 and discovered her love for singing traditional nigunim (sacred melodies) together. She now works to make Chassidish nigunim more widely accessible and share their healing power in progressive Jewish communities, teaching workshops and private lessons. She founded A Queer Nigun Project, which hosts monthly nigun singing at Jewish services in jails as well as events for LGBTQIA+ folks in New York and Philadelphia. She spent the past year studying Jewish music full-time with Joey Weisenberg in the Rising Song Residency and has facilitated programs at Let My People Sing! and Hadar’s Rising Song Intensive. Her recordings of traditional nigunim and original tunes for liturgy are available online.
Through this course, sacred song and silence will guide us beyond our everyday mental chatter and return us to ourselves and to each other in the present moment. We’ll open the sessions with a contemporary melody and then dive into esoteric nigunim (melodies) of the Chabad Chassidish tradition. ChaBaD, or חב”ד, is an acronym for Chochma—the seedling of bright wisdom, Binah—taking root in deeper understanding, and Da’at—intimate knowledge that bears fruit in practice. Chabad nigunim are often acrobatic exercises that help refine our souls to do their holy, courageous tasks on earth. We’ll cultivate focus, patience, perseverance, and compassion as we stretch to let these complex nigunim blossom through us, and feel ourselves blossoming through them. On Tisha B’Av, we’ll also hold space for silent meditation and an optional invitation to share reflections. All voices are welcome.
About the Timbrel Artist-in-Residence
The Timbrel Artist-in-Residence teaches a four-session course during the Summer Institute, in addition to leading community-wide programming. Artists-in-Residence will receive credit for free tuition, room, and board, program admissions to the Institute, a stipend, and a small budget. Artists from all disciplines are welcome; Jews of Color and Jews with disabilities are especially encouraged to apply. Past artists have represented the disciplines of music (vocal and instrumental), theater and storytelling, puppetry, poetry, visual arts, and dance.
Direct any questions to email@example.com