Meet Fellow Dvir Cahana
DVIR’S COVID-19 HAIKU
Weeks turn into months
Patients hold breath Sick-lically
Our days are numbered
Dvir received a Master’s in Jewish Studies from McGill University in 2020, and is currently studying to be a rabbi at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah. Throughout his studies he has developed as a rap artist competing in freestyle tournaments, rap battle venues and MC challenges. Under the pseudonym RiviR, Dvir has performed across North America and has recorded 8 albums. In 2018, he founded the Moishe House of Montreal and hosts bimonthly concerts bringing in artists from around the world. In 2019, Dvir organized the “Music to my Shirs” retreat that featured 3 concerts, 5 workshops, and was capped off with the completion of an album that was written, recorded, and mixed by the retreat participants over the course of the weekend. Whether it be through performance, event organizing or education Dvir has always found ways to incorporate his yiddishkeit into his passion for music and vice versa. Dvir is currently working on a collaboration with his father and sister where they intertwine sermons with music, art and poetry. The project is called, “Bezallel Koli” and you can follow the progress at www.bezallelkoli.com .
LABA PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
The great innovation of the Mikra’ot Gedolot, Rabbinic Hebrew Bibles of the early 16th century, was that you could have multiple commentaries in conversation with each other on a biblical passage on the very same page. As each commentator expands on or sometimes disagrees with earlier ones, the biblical text comes alive, in rich conversation, with the eye of the reader jumping from source to source and letter to letter, in a dance-like fashion. Ramban to Rashi to Onkelos to the visual Masoretic cantillation notes and cryptic textual markers. As the reader peels back the layers of interpretation and time, s/he gets invited into the creative and rigorous tradition forged by our Jewish ancestors of mining the biblical texts for meaning, inspiration and clarity.
Many modern-day Divrei Torah emerge from engaging in earlier commentaries or trying to find a message for the moment. “Bezallel Koli” employs the Divrei Torah as a launching pad to take the conversation further into a live dialogue between the creative, political, midrashic, and intellectually stimulating realms. Each sermon is written by my father, my sister or myself, and will be accompanied by a song, a poem and a visual art piece. Each work of art will be in conversation with the content of each sermon in a fully immersive, sensorial way. The combination of the different writing voices and perspectives that the three of us have (My father is a Conservative Rabbi and both my sister and myself are currently in rabbinical school), and the variegated artistic styles that we each have honed in our own mediums of artistic expression allows for a really unique form of textual engagement of the biblical texts and contemporary, artistic modes of commentary. Coming from an artistic and rabbinic family, where the aesthetic-poetic and religious-spiritual sensibilities drew life from the same Divine source, I always dreamt of putting our creative and religious voices into a format that we could share with others.
WHAT IS A SURPRISING CHOICE YOU MADE THIS YEAR?
Although it’s hard to imagine a world that isn’t completely discombobulated by the global pandemic, I stood a year ago with exciting plans on my horizon. I was about to make the big move from quaint Montreal to the bright lights of NYC. Although it made a lot more sense to finish out my Master’s program in Montreal, I was so antsy to start my learning in rabbinic school that I worked it out to be able to do both programs at the same time. I knew two things, I wanted to already be in New York and I wanted to continue community organizing at a Moishe House.
Everything was all set, my bags were all packed and my papers were in order, but three days before my voyage to the city of dreams I was informed that there was a technical issue with my lease and I was ineligible to live with them. At that moment, I thought to myself, it isn’t too late to just finish out the year in Montreal. But my mind was one-tracked and my optimism was high (oh how naive we all were back then). For the first month I lived 3 days in Long Island, Prospect Park, Hell’s Kitchen, Washington Heights, Riverdale. I got the grand tour of the city, but I knew I couldn’t live out of a suitcase forever.
So I was very active on the Moishe House interviewing circuit, but, each time, something fell through. The whole time, however, there was one Moishe House that was on the top of my list; the Harlem Moishe House, but their opening was only in May. In March, figuring out a living situation for another two months seemed like a long-shot, but then we all got sucked up in a wonky vortex where the space-time continuum acts much more discontinuously. Looking back at it all, I am certainly surprised with the decisions I made, but am lucky that not having a plan ended up being the best plan.