Chavruta: A Drummer's Bat Mitzvah
CHAVRUTA and our accompanying Study Guide are now available online
(watch the film below - closed captioning is available)
CHAVRUTA: A DRUMMER'S BAT MITZVAH is a project with Alicia Jo Rabins. In a nutshell: Alicia taught me how to chant Torah and I taught her how to drum, I had a bat mitzvah in her yard, and we thought about what it means to be two 40-year-old feminist ladies who want to keep learning and growing our whole lives. The word chavruta refers to the traditional partner-style study of Jewish texts; over the course of one year, Alicia and I delved into a grassroots feminist course of study. We explored the intersections of Torah, performance, and the artist's path; we investigated the ancient Near Eastern roots of women's drumming, ancient goddess traditions, and the integration of environmentalism with religion.
Jodi Darby produced a 15-minute documentary short about our project, Chavruta: Drummer's Bat Mitzvah. Previews of the film were held at the Oregon Jewish Museum & Center for Holocaust Education and the NW Film Project in 2018. The official premiere of the film was held in New York City at Town & Village Synagogue in February 2019, and a Portland premiere and online release followed in April 2019 at the JCC-Mittleman. We have since screened the film at Limmud UK, Limmud Seattle, and NEW-Caje. We are currently looking for other opportunities to share this work; let us know if you’d like to host a screening!
In April 2019 we celebrated the online release of the film with the publication of a corresponding study guide.
This study guide is meant to facilitate group discussions after film viewings, and can be used at schools, community centers, and informal discussion groups. It even includes an easy intro drum lesson that requires zero equipment! Check it out here - it is free to students, and suggested donations are specified for other contexts. The study guide elaborates on the film’s themes — at it’s core, Chavruta is a film about everyday spiritual quests: the search for personal, authentic ways to express our Judaism; the importance of continuing to learn and grow as adults; and the power that lies in chavruta, in relationship, in teaching each other what we know. It is a collaborative process and ritual performance that explores the place of ceremony in contemporary life and its power to integrate art, activism, and spirituality.
This work is partially funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council. Thank you to Chuck Masi for post-production editing of the film.