Dr. Stephen Hazan Arnoff is the Executive Director of the 14th Street Y. We’re sharing this essay that he wrote in honor of Bob Dylan’s 72nd birthday. Happy Birthday, Bob!
-14th Street Y
Bob Dylan turns 72 years old on May 24. Happy Birthday, Bob! So what can we wish for a man who already has it all?
Dylan may be the most important figure in popular culture for the past fifty years. Others have sold more records and sold out more concert halls, but Dylan has made an indelible creative mark on the world by challenging popular culture to wrestle with questions of religion, philosophy, and meaning like no other contemporary artist.
The Beatles? They may be the band by which pop music genius is measured until today, but without encountering Dylan’s dismantling of expectations about what pop could be and do (and, as legend has it, getting them to smoke weed for the first time), there would be no Revolver or Sgt. Pepper’s, let alone John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Dylan has for many years captivated filmmakers, writers, actors, directors, dancers, and poets, too. Allen Ginsberg, a standard-bearer for the place where pop, spirituality and art meet, bowed to the young Dylan, saying: “There is a very famous saying among Tibetan Buddhists: ‘If the student is not better than the teacher, then the teacher is a failure.’”
Dylan’s influence extended to visual arts as well. Andy Warhol was the only prime mover of hipness and meaning to approach Dylan’s artistic impact, and they stalked each other like two boxers in the ring of pop. During a visit to Warhol’s Factory Dylan nonchalantly tossed the artist’s famous cut-out image of Elvis pulling a gun on into the back of his convertible and sped away, symbolically triumphing in their duel.
On the religious front, Dylan has traveled many paths and one path all at the same time. Is he a devout Jew still known to appear at Chabad synagogues, a reformed born-again Christian, or a humanist iconoclast? On all of these paths he has modeled an artistic search for feeling, meaning, and truth.
As Joan Baez, a former lover and one of Dylan’s first patrons in Martin Scorsese’s Bob-umentary, said:
There are no veils, curtains, doors, walls, anything, between what pours out of Bob’s hand onto the page and what is somehow available to the core of people who are believers in him. Some people would say, you know, ‘not interested,’ but if you’re interested, he goes way, way deep.
So as Dylan turns 72 on May 24 — the Hebrew birthday of שבתאי זיסל בן אברהם is 27 Iyyar — what birthday wishes can we offer?
Seventy-two in gematria is chesed. In kabbalistic terms chesed means something like “Love Minus Zero (No Limit),” the title of a Dylan tune from 1965. What might be true of all great rock and roll is certainly true of Dylan: no matter their topic or instrumentation, all of his songs are love songs at their core. Dylan took these obsessions with love further than any pop star before him, particularly when it came to completing the divine.
Celebrating Dylan’s 50th birthday with a list of 50 things he loved about Bob, Bono pointed out mixing-up human love and love of God. This tangling of divine and human love while wrestling with their limits is the story of Dylan’s music in every era — from “Love is all there is it can’t be denied” on Nashville Skyline in the late 60s to “Shelter from the Storm’s” “If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born” in the 70s to a more recent album entitled Love and Theft.
Dylan’s songs interpret the balance and battle of chesed and gevurah — ultimate love, life, birth, and release in tension with the ultimate limit of destruction and death. “He not busy being born is dying,” Dylan sang some fifty years ago — a mantra for the creative life he has modeled for artists, thinkers, and teachers for more than half a century.
On his birthday of chesed we celebrate Dylan’s curiosity, confounding of expectations, shattering of myths, rebuilding of myths, crankiness and love of music. (Just listen to one of his one hundred radio shows Theme Time Radio Hour of a few years ago with hour-long musical explorations of themes from Drinking to Hair to Tennessee to enjoy the company of someone whose love of music is overflowing.)
As my friend and teacher Rabbi Ebn Leader has taught, “Existence itself is an act of chesed – ‘Olam chesed yibaneh’(Psalms, 89:3).” For the world of popular culture that matters, Bob Dylan is a foundation of the world.
Originally posted in Talkin’ Hava Nagilah Blues, Stephen Hazan Arnoff’s Blog. Follow for more great posts like this one!
LABA Festival Preview: Talking Sweet, Salty and Spicy with LABA Fellow Erin Patinkin, Founder & Co-president of Ovenly
Today we sit down with LABA artist fellow and baker extraordinaire Erin Patinkin to learn about what she is working on for the upcoming from LABA EAT Festival
Erin discusses experimenting in the kitchen and how she was inspired by ancient texts to come up with new recipes for the festival.
EAT, an arts festival from LABA with performances, music, art, teachings and tastings, will take place June 1-2 at the 14th Street Y. Come get a sneak peak, or…well, taste of Erin’s amazing food Thursday, May 23rd from 12-5 in the Y’s lobby.
So tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do?
My official title is Founder and Co-president of Ovenly. Back in 2010, I started Ovenly–a creative kitchen specializing in pastries and bar snacks–with my business partner Agatha Kulaga. Last year, we opened our first retail space. People like to push us into the category of “bakery” and though we see ourselves as much more, we’re OK with that. We’ve had a lot of fun press<http://oven.ly/press/>. If you’re like me and love the combinations of sweet, salt, and spice, then you have to visit. Our salted chocolate chip cookies or our black caraway smoked salt shortbread or our gingery honey almond corn will knock your socks off. Promise.
For Ovenly, I devise recipes, experiment in the kitchen, make last minute ingredient runs, train staff, and run the financial side of the business; however, I’m also a trained actor with experience in the visual arts, so I dabble in other things. For example; this August, illustrator Julia Pott<http://www.juliapott.com> and I will be mounting a gallery exhibition that celebrates youth through the medium of cake. Finally a marriage of my past and present careers!
And what are you working on for the festival?
I am creating the menu that accompanies the festival. The food serves as a transition tool for the audience, connecting the artistic works with the teachings. Each dish is inspired by the ancient Jewish texts we’ve been studying throughout the year, or responds to my fellow fellow’s artistic works, or both. Ever wonder what bread tasted like in biblical times? You’ll try that. You’ll also have to feed your neighbors figs dipped in honey, so get ready.
Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration and process for this?
When I read about food, my mind immediately wanders to flavors. So, throughout the year, when we would read about bread, or wine, or vinegar, or game, or stew, I’d immediately think, well, what did that taste like? How’d those ancients eat that? If you survived only on bread, what would it feel like to have access to a luxurious dish? Each of the fellows has found a line or a tale that struck them in such a way that it inspired them to create or revise an artistic work, but I think I found inspiration everywhere. Since the entire year has been themed around eating (or on some cases starving), and since that’s generally all I think about, there was a lot of fodder to work with.
In LABA you study ancient Jewish texts in order to gain inspiration for your work. Which texts inspired you?
My biggest inspirations were the stories of Ruth and of Jacob and Essau<http://www.labajournal.com/archive/>.
Want to know more about Erin? Click here<http://www.labajournal.com/fellows/> for her bio. You can read more about Ovenly here<http://oven.ly/press/>. Don’t forget to stop by the Y lobby on Thursday from 12-5 for some amazing Ovenly treats!
At the Y, we’re known for health, wellness, education, art, community and fun. You might even have attended a party here in the past, (though it was most likely for your 3-year-old neighbor). Nevertheless, the Y is gearing up for the fanciest, most fabulous event we’ve had here in some time, and many of our members and staff are planning for this wonderful walk on our red carpet. Here are a few reasons to join us at the Gala: FEAST- Tuesday May 21st at 7:30PM.
Bettina is fun. Like, super-fun. Like, “Planning a Ladies night for the rest of the Moms in the preschool class” kind of fun. Normally, we get to see the fabulous Bettina in either workout clothes (that still look better than my regular work clothes) or cool casual wear. Even rushing around in the morning she looks great, so it will be especially fun to see what she looks like EXTRA fabulous. This weekend she’s planned a shopping trip to find her gala-wear….so we don’t know exactly what it will be. But we’re definitely taking pictures.
Brooke is the person you kind of wish you were. You know that woman with fabulous highlights who has twins and is gorgeous and is planning all the time, but is still so incredibly nice and generous? That’s Brooke. Brooke has her outfit planned. Navy. Tea length. Pressed and ready to go. She’ll class up the whole event all by herself.
So, I heard that wearing a slight heel can make your legs appear longer and your whole body more slim! I’m thinking about wearing these. Despite the fact that I can’t walk and my toes numbed up in about 3 minutes, I think I’m headed in this direction. Do I look thinner? WHEEE!
See you at the GALA! Click for more info and to purchase your tickets!
-Camille Diamond is the Director of Community Engagement and Communications at the 14th Street Y. At this year’s Gala, She’s most looking forward to eating food by Riverpark and trying not to annoy Rachel Dratch with her crazy fan talk.
“NOT THESE. For once.” – Camille Diamond; Director of Community Engagement and Communications
Find out WHAT we’ll be WEARING on May 21st at our Annual Gala, FEAST!
Intrigued? Get tickets here for our FEAST!
Nili Talis is one of our beloved preschool teachers who had an epiphany about what it might take to truly be at her best.
In January, each preschool teacher at the 14th Street Y was given the opportunity to participate in “the passion project.” The idea behind this project was to motivate, inspire and connect each of us with the feeling of passion. It was up to each individual to define their passion. When we found out that Nili would pursue her passion for health and wellness with us, we asked her to share her workouts with us, in the hopes that it might inspire a passion for health in others.
-14th Street Y
My adrenaline shot up to the sky after this opportunity was presented to me. After the proposal paper was in my hand, my energy dropped to the ground.
Passion!? Oh No, who has time for passion? A list of all of the things I need to accomplish before June raced through my head. I need to pass four different state teacher certification exams, write a thesis, complete 2 more graduate school courses, spend time with my family and teach! How would I ever fit a passion project into my life?
I took a month to ponder the possibilities, I could learn to play the ukulele, scuba dive, speak a different language or even improve upon my mind reading skills. All of these sounded interesting, but nothing ignited the passion within me. Just as I was about to return the form and decide I didn’t have time for this project, it hit me. When do I feel the most passionate? When I am at my best.
That was my aha moment: I needed to focus on me in order to be the best graduate student, educator, wife and Mother. The best way I know how to do this is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Over the years I have gone in and out of focusing on being the best me. And currently with my plate overflowing, working out has been put in the freezer…until now! The focus of my passion project would be to begin a workout routine with a trainer at the Y to ignite my desire for a heathy lifestyle and to be the best me possible.
FIRST WORKOUT: “Oh no here goes something!”
As I slowly make my approach over to my Personal Trainer Glenna and begin what I had been calling a “tuchas whooping”.
I kept telling myself I need this more now than ever. Life has taken over my hours in each day. I love my life and wife, don’t get me wrong, and working out has become a hobby I participate in on occasion.
Glenna was kind, gentle, intelligent, positive and focused. As she conducted her initial physical test on me we started to talk about my goals and vision for our training sessions.
I told her that growing up I was always on a sports team and really never had to worry about working out. I want to bring back that type of training that uses all natural body weight training. I wasn’t interested in treadmills or other large equipment.
Glenna’s knowledge and confidence quickly eased my mind and we jumped into the training session. She opened up a tiny bag filled with a few bands. We used these bands in a variety of way that worked every single muscle in my body. As I was doing the reps I kept thinking, “This isn’t so bad, I’ve got this!”
I also questioned if I was working hard enough? After our first session Glenna and I hugged and said see you next week. I left feeling really good but still asked myself did I work hard enough? I continued on with my busy day and got home around 8pm that night. After I completed our family night-time rituals, I went to sit on the couch to read a book. After about an hour of sitting, I wanted to get a drink and then BOOM it hit me! I COULDNT MOVE A SINGLE MUSCLE! As I stood up half way I started to laugh “I guess I did work hard enough!”
And it felt awesome! This is the feeling I’ve missed. Every inch of my inside and out was physically and mentally challenged and I wanted more!
Interested in working out like this? Try Glenna’s FREE Fitness Intensive this Saturday, May 11th at 12:00PM PRIMAL MOVES.
The Theater at the 14th Street Y proudly presents Amas Musical Theatre’s production of Hello, Dolly!
This exciting production is brought to us by an amazing company and we are excited to announce that Adelaide, an alumni of the inaugural year of the Teen Theater Summer Institute (TTSI), is making her Amas debut!
“It’s great to be back in the theater,” says Adelaide, who is excited to be playing the role of Minnie in Hello, Dolly! “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for TTSI camp!” TTSI workshops and training include preparation and one on one coaching for auditions, and Amas’s Teen Academy is both audition based and highly selective.
Amas Musical Theatre prides themselves on “celebrating over 40 years of cultural diversity in American Musicals.” Their mission is “grounded in non-traditional, multi-ethnic production, education and casting.” For over 40 years, Amas has presented work that displays diverse cultural viewpoints including African American, Latino, European, and Jewish. They devote themselves to the:
- Creation, development, and professional production of new American musicals.
- Celebration of diversity and minority perspectives.
- Emergence of new artistic talent.
- Training and encouragement of inner-city young people.
We are thrilled to have them join us here at the Theater at the 14th Street Y and are excited to cheer on Adelaide, our TTSI alum!
To learn more about Amas visit their website at http://www.amasmusical.org
To purchase tickets click here!