While the illustrious DJ Handler may have broken the news, that Y-LOVE made his European debut a few weeks ago, and that the capacity shows in Paris and London were huge successes, I would be remiss if I didn’t drop my own impressions of the 2007 Y-LOVE EuroTour.
The initial show in Paris was a mind-blowing experience. First of all, I don’t know how one would be able to enjoy Paris without a working knowledge of French. While nothing peeves me more than Americans who flaunt their linguistic inability in foreign countries — I envy ostriches upon hearing Americans say such semantic atrocities as “voulez-vous help-ez moi?”; it’s called Rosetta Stone, y’all, seriously — in France what struck me is that the tourist is not given the choice. In America, even the most bumbling attempt at English will usually find a sympathetic ear — how many of us in New York have had to give directions at 5 words per minute to someone fresh out of the baggage claim? — but I didn’t get this impression in Paris. French, it seems, is expected of all whose shoes touch French soil.
Usually, I’m too nervous to speak to native speakers of a language for fear that I may make a mistake and be looked down upon. Apparently, I’ve been afraid of this one particular Parisian bartender. My misuse of the verb “to be” made this guy make a face which made me wonder which curse word I had just said. Of course, as time went on (and with the help of my favorite French question – quelles biÃ¨res est-ce que vous avez Ã¡ pression? – which beers do you have on draft?), my memory began to refresh itself, and as my French ability improved, so did my time in Paris. So when it came time to perform, a French introduction went without saying. By the time we were leaving for the UK, I had already begun to flatly refuse speaking English in public.
Limmud UK, was yet another life-changing Limmud experience.
For those of you who don’t know, in the
charedi ultra-Orthodox world, there isn’t much plurality of opinions. The “seventy faces of Torah” are clearly delineated, and relations with non-Orthodox Judaism (if not non-Orthodox Jews themselves) are eschewed, even to a greater degree than interfaith relations. LimmudNY was the first “pluralistic” event I had ever been to, and all its organizers know, I continuously praise its environment of idea exchange sans disrespect. LimmudNY made me realize — “if there will be any issues during this convention, they will come from me”, and the atmosphere of mutual respect made any theological rabble-rousing a non-issue.
Limmud UK was no exception. A conference attended by representatives of virtually all streams of British Jewry (with the usual exceptions), Limmud UK revolutionized my Judaism. I met with members of NACOEJ (North American Council of Ethiopian Jews) and the UK Ethiopian community who told me how to research my family history, and yeshivish British kids who couldn’t believe that people went to bars in Manhattan with yarmulkes. I met people doing Jewish-Muslim unity projects in Sweden, and taught Gemara and Kabbalah using only System of a Down lyrics as text guides. And, in between, my two scheduled performances turned into ten separate sets, with my jumping on stage with everyone from Pshutei ha’Am (ex-Shotei ha’Nevuah) to Emunah, and nightly ciphers which seemed to metastasize into full-blown 250 to 400-person-strong afterparties on a
The people I met in the UK could drive one to expatriation. British musicgoers gave us the best reception, buying everything we could carry. Every CD I was shlepping would find its way into a waiting hand, and in London, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. In Britain, the fans are far too proper to hate on someone, or to boo — a disinterested British partygoer will just politely leave. The crowd at 93 Feet East on London’s East End filtered itself throughout my set — 50 people walk in, 30 people leave; 200 people walk in, 100 leave — so that by the end, all that remained was a core group of hundreds of hiphop heads who were feeling my music as much as I was feeling the vibe from them.
All in all, a wonderful experience that I thank G-d for — and one that I can only hope will be repated, if not surpassed, on the next Y-LOVE EuroTour. (Tentatively scheduled for “ASAP”.)