Sunday, December 05, 2021

Amidst the excitement of Rosh Chodesh Adar festivities, three senior elective classes at Yeshivat Frisch welcomed exciting guest speakers last week. Rabbi Michael Bashist’s Hasidut class was honored to welcome the world-renowned chazzan, Cantor Joseph Malovany, who spoke about his personal relationship with three late Hasidic rebbes: the Satmar Rebbe, Lubavitcher Rebbe and Bobover Rebbe. Malovany told several inspiring stories about these interactions—music-related and otherwise—that revealed the sometimes surprising overlap between the Modern Orthodox and Hasidic spheres, despite the differences. “Hasidic rebbes care about people; they care about every neshama,” Malovany said. He also sang select niggunim from Bobov and other Hasidic dynasties, marveling at the Bobover Rebbe’s ability to compose complex, emotive niggunim despite having no musical training.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Burry Klein’s psychology class was excited to welcome Menashe Lustig, a Hasidic actor and star of the film “Menashe,” about a Hasidic widower who attempts to regain custody of his child. Lustig spoke about his experiences as a Hasidic actor living in a community that largely ignores the outside world, as well as about how his personal experiences were brought to bear on his role in the film. “When you have trauma, you make something of it,” he said. “You make nice jewelry of it.”

Finally, Dr. Mindy Furman and Esther Ruskin’s AP biology classes participated in the “Skype a Scientist” program, which enables students to video conference with scientists in various fields, and in various locations. The students got to virtually meet Alyssa Kaganer, who is about to finish her PhD in Zoology and Wildlife Conservation at Cornell/Smithsonian. Kaganer studies the impact of infectious diseases on global amphibian populations and is involved in the conservation of endangered species. She spoke to the classes about her research, how she got into this career, and about the nature of science in general. The students asked great questions and they had a wonderful conversation!

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