Messianism, Manuscripts, and Music

Current fellow Hadar Feldman Samet has been working for years on a trove of particularly intriguing but difficult manuscripts. She is decoding the dense, multilingual songs of the sect of Sabbatians that maintained secretive religious beliefs and practices for centuries. Based on indicators in the handwritten texts of hundreds of hymns, full of kabbalistic and messianic symbols and abbreviations, she has managed to reconstruct the tunes that some were sung to.

Reflecting on the Past Semester at Penn

As I think readers of this blog are likely to know, the horrifying attack of October 7 and the war that followed have loomed over the entire semester at Penn. The events in the Middle East have brought shock, grief, and trauma to the university as well as outbursts of prejudice and hatred, suspicion, misunderstanding, feelings of isolation and marginalization, and—as the world knows—institutional turmoil.

Turn Up the Music

There is just something about music. Everyone seems to understand its language, as rhythm and voice affect mind, body, and spirit at once. Music brings out a depth of human feeling that, let’s face it, is often tempered in academic contexts. But with the coming year at the Katz Center devoted to global musical cultures, we—and our audiences in and outside of the academy—will have the opportunity to enjoy Jewish musical expression to the fullest, with a robust lineup of online and in-person performances, interviews, and talks.