Friday, February 29, 2008

The Mishna Project

Ibn Avraham handed me an orange padded envelope covered in bubble wrap and adorned with the Israeli flag in Scotch tape. On the top, he had ripped off a piece of notebook paper, stuck it down, and written "To: Olivia."

Excited and wondering what my present could be, I opened up the envelope to see the pictured CD case. At first confused, I thought perhaps this was an extension of a Bar Ilan library, then remembered that Ibn Abraham had mentioned this to me before. "The Mishna Project" is the name of a band who have a unique and compelling vision- the desire to spread Mishnayos through the rise of music.

And so I came home and popped the CD into my computer, curious as to how these three brothers had composed tunes to the Mishnayot. It must be difficult, seeing as they have to include all the different words and can hardly repeat them. I was astonished when I heard some beautiful, truly exquisite music to which they had put the words. I am generally not a fan of Jewish music (cue Dustfinger to confirm this) although I like Pardes, some Shalsheles and The Chevra and can bear some songs by Shwekey or other assorted artists. My worst fear was that I would pop this CD into my computer and hate it, in which case I would never listen to it again.

However, it is brilliant. Not only is the concept brilliant, in that if I listen to this often enough I can't help knowing Chapters 1-3 of Berachos, but the music is beautiful. I don't know enough to be able to describe precisely the style; all I know is that for me, the music flows. It sweeps, it flows; it's music I can sing to, dance to and be happy about. This is so wondrous! I hope they continue and put out many more CDs, as that will enable me to learn all Mishnayos, and then suppose they got started on Gemara...

So who are these people? Well, since I was now curious, I searched online in order to discover their identities. Apparently "The Mishna Project" consists of three brothers, Moshe, Josh and Dave Weinberg (is it the Dave Weinberg I know?!) It could not have been made without the help of drummer Josh Zlotnick.

Apparently the album was being sold at the SOY Seforim Sale, and while I am not sure where you can get it now, feel free to email themishnaproject@ gmail.com for more details! This is an excellent teaching tool, something with a purpose and a goal. Just imagine kids wandering about the house, Harry Potter under one arm, baseball glove on one hand, or perhaps beating each other up with their HASBRO lightsabers, but humming the tunes from this CD, having memorized Mishnayot with absolutely no effort simply due to how often they've listened to it. This is informal education at its best. In fact, the CD has been introduced into the curriculum at TABC (Torah Academy of Bergen County) and will hopefully make its way to other schools.

I hope it does! Check it out! And thanks, Ibn Avraham. You rock.

11 comments:

Ezzie said...

Hehe. G just sent me this yesterday... haven't had a chance to listen, but a cute idea for sure.

dman said...

Great post!

I forwarded your post to some elementary school teachers I know.

anonymous mom said...

Their site has a place to register so you can tell them your name and how many Mishnayos you've memorized. Also, you can catch a glimpse of a "Mishna Project" session at TABC on the TABC website. I'm very impressed with this on many levels. The Mishna Project is a good thing.

jackie said...

That's such a brilliant idea...shame I didn't hear about it before the Seforim Sale!

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

I haven't heard it, but I think the idea is sort of 'un-traditionalist' (which isn't the worst thing in the world, but it's worse when one is unaware of the past). Moroccan Jews, as well as all Jews of the orient, as well as all Jews(!) have special ('holy') tunes to sing the Mishna in (it's more of a chant. ...but chants are good. ..for example they have a special tune for reading the Bible in the Vatican; I can imagine most people (even American protestants) see that tune as being much more appropriate than singing it to rock).

dman said...

Does someone know the URL for The Mishnah Project?

Anonymous said...

http://www.themishnaproject.com

Anonymous said...

This cd is unreal! The music is great and i already have it basically memorized. I totally get how people used to know shas by heart with a tune. I cant wait for them to put out more. By the way, there is a website - http://www.themishnaproject.com
Check it out!

M.R. said...

Can I borrow it?

Anonymous said...

Fine efforts on the part of the producers and musicians BUT by no means is this idea "revolutionary" in any way. There are cheders and schools past and present that have put mishnayos to tunes as a memory tool.

This CD though seems more like a Jewish Rock CD that happen to have mishna as lyrics as opposed to what it SHOULD be: Mishnayos Lyrics that are put to a tune that is geared specifically for easy memorization.

Fine effort but I give it a C+

Anonymous said...

Two is company, three is crowd.