The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Day: February 1, 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Women’s, men’s swimming finish third, second at WPI Invitational

This past Sunday, Bates Swimming and Diving competed in the WPI Invitational. Per the Bates sports and information office, this was an uniquely formatted event for swimmers, because it was comprised entirely of sprints. “It was a great change of pace to be able to swim 25 yard events and 100 yard relays,” Captain John Dina ‘17 wrote in an email. “Swimming can be so repetitive and everyone appreciated the chance to swim fun new events.”

Teddy Pender ‘18, and Alex Bedard ‘19 took full advantage of the 25 yard sprints, winning the 25 free and back respectively.

In addition for the men’s team, Alexander Ignatov finished second in the 200 free. “(Alex) made an incredible comeback in this meet. His sickness early in the season caused him to miss a big chunk of training which is hard to come back from as a distance swimmer,” wrote Dina.

A number of Bobcats on the women’s team finished first in their respective events. Despite feeling a little under the weather, Captain Emma Jarczyk ‘17 finished first in the 3-meter dive with a score of 478.35, breaking her own team record In addition, Jarczyk finished first in the 1-meter dive scoring 451.20.

A few first years made a big splash on Sunday. Janika Ho ‘20 won both the 50 free and fly, while Monica Sears ‘20 won the 100 and 200 free, and Emily Erad-Stone ‘20 won the 50 back. In addition, Logan McGill ‘18 won the 25 butterfly.

Associate Head Coach, Vanessa Williamson, was especially impressed with Kristy Prelgovisk ’19, “I thought Kristy did well coming back from an injury,” Williamson wrote in an email on Monday morning. Prelgovisk finished first in the 100 breastroke event.

Williamson also singled out Sara Daher ‘17 for a great performance. “Sara looked great in her events,” the coach said. “(She) looks ready for NESCAC competition.”

Overall the no. 25 ranked Bates women finished third in the meet behind no. 35 WPI and No. 50 Roger Williams. Meanwhile, the men finished in second place behind WPI.

The Bates women will compete next at the NESCAC championships on February 10th, and the men will compete in the championships on the 17th. The team seems excited and optimistic about their abilities going into NESCAC’s. “We are in a great place. The team loves NESCAC’s because it is the focus of everything we do from day 1, and being able to perform at our best is a special feeling,” Dina wrote. “The men’s team is excited to watch the girls swim fast, as they always do, setting the tone for what we can expect at our championship meet the following weekend.”


At least Trump sparked white activism?

In spite of the atrocious regulations the Trump administration has been enacting, the one slightly positive outcome is the activism non-minority groups now feel accountable to participate in. Although much criticism around the women’s march was its overwhelming lack of intersectionality and inclusion, it was one of the first in the 21st century in which different age groups of white women joined on that large of a scale to protest injustices against women, including Trump allegedly trying to ban abortion, which could potentially affect every woman who is able to get pregnant. In terms of highly targeted minority groups, the recent “Muslim ban” preventing anyone from  a primarily Muslim-“marked” country from entering the U.S. regardless of valid visa or green card status has sparked a number of protests, as well as Trump’s removal of LGTBQ+ information from federal websites.

While the circumstances for these protests are unbelievably horrific for the groups that they affect, from a privileged person’s standpoint like mine, they seem positive for the sole reason that they actually hold privileged people accountable. The micro-aggressions and other subtle abuses minority groups face every day are too often dismissed by people that do not personally experience them. It is easy to say that Afro-Americans do not face discrimination and other abuse in this country because segregation laws have ended. It is easy to say that women do not face discrimination and other abuse in this country because rape is illegal and it is normalized for women to work now. It is easy to say that LGBTQ+ people in this county do not face discrimination and other abuse because gay marriage is legal. But now that the President is enforcing actual legal abuse and removing rights from human beings in this country (or rightfully allowed to enter this country), the abuse is public knowledge. It is extremely difficult to deny. It is glaringly obvious that some people in this country are legally treated differently than others. While this is extremely horrifying and unprecedented, it might be the only way to hold privileged people responsible and to get them involved, and so far it has.

This is not the right way, and I am not advocated for legally sacrificing rights to add to the abuse of minorities in this country, I am only saying that every underprivileged person whose cautions were ignored on election is day is being proven right, and that is something that is becoming increasingly difficult for privileged peoples to deny. The racism (among other forms of hate) are becoming more and more overt in the face of Trump’s presidency, and that is something people unaffected by subtle racism (and other forms of hate) are finally coming together to decry. There may finally come a feeling of responsibility and accountability for people to use their privilege to reduce the increasing abuse of the Trump administration.


Stephan Koplowitz’s two cents on the interdisciplinary arts

We have all heard the mantra that being well rounded is best. In the highly competitive world in which we live, having a varied interest base is vital to achieving anything. But for most, that lesson of well roundedness seems to evaporate once we achieve our goals of getting into college, grad school, or having a stable job. However, Stephan Koplowitz manages to keep that goal in mind every day of his life. Koplowitz devotes his life to facilitating interdisciplinary arts, weaving together dance, visual arts, music and more.

From an early age, Koplowitz was exposed to many types of arts. In an interview he remarked that “[a]s a young person, [he] started with piano lessons, had an interest in photography, then improvising music, then writing music for dance, then dancing, then choreography.” In order to keep up with all the different directions his passions were pulling him, Koplowitz had to get creative.

Throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies at Wesleyan and University of Utah respectively, he was constantly mixing and matching different art forms in order to create a piece that felt wholly right and his.

But his real passion in melding different art forms together comes from the need to explore “the nexus between the analog and digital worlds all mediated in [his] lifelong fascination with the human form and humanity.” People express themselves in so many different ways, so much so that it is often difficult to keep track of all the micro expressions and subtle undertones a person emotes throughout the day.

No one form of art is enough to contain all of the emotions or expressions people feel in their everyday life. The only way Koplowitz is able to accurately portray how humans really feel, think, and act is to mesh multiple forms of art together, which results in a completely new discipline.

The Bates community was lucky enough to have Koplowitz speak with many classes and give a lecture on Wednesday, January 25. Having completed his own education at a liberal arts school, Koplowitz was able to tell us here in the Bates community what that liberal arts education can really do for a person out there in the big, scary real world.

Koplowitz sees “Bates’ strong commitment to both liberal arts and creative arts naturally lead[ing] towards creating an intellectual space for students to explore and dialogue within all the arts. It allows for more ideas to flow, more interchange between faculty and students and allows for more experimentation and risk, taking all important parts of a healthy college and liberal arts education.”

But achieving this goal of a high level of collaboration is not easy; it takes persistence and practice. Koplowitz suggests that in order to achieve the aim of interdisciplinary work, students should “read every day. Interdisciplinary work is nothing without ideas. One does not get ideas without stimulation, contemplation, and education.”

I have always thought that books are good for the soul, and apparently, they are good for collaboration too.

Another point that this artist makes is that students should not be intimidated by the arts. Everyone has the ability to be creative because “it is a learned trait, it is not only ‘innate,’ we all need to nurture our creativity not matter how much ‘innate’ talent might be inside of us!” Just because someone is not born with the ability to sing on perfect key or knows how to do five pirouettes does not mean they should stop trying to learn how.

Above all else, when creating an interdisciplinary work, collaboration is key. Most of all collaboration should be “fun, exciting and can result in experiences that can’t be predicted or programmed but that like any relationship requires time, patience, and communication.” Communicate with those around you and the results might be more than you could have even imaged.



I. A girl walks out of Commons and presses the handicap button with one of her free hands. She is not holding anything that might inhibit her from opening the door and she is apparently able. The door opens on command, as it was designed to do. The girl walks through the open door and presses the button a second time, making sure the second door stays open so she can walk through without impediment. She exits the building and walks into the rest of her life. None of this makes any sense to me and I hold my head in absolute bewilderment and scream.

II. When kicking a door in you should first examine the material and construction of the door. If the door is wooden, then you are golden. If it is metal, you should return with a thermite charge or some other small explosive. When kicking a door in you should pay special attention to the weak points built into the door: the hinges and just below the knob. Stand yourself in front of the door and prepare yourself for the shock of foot to door. Bring your knee up and then extend your lower leg with all your force into the door. The door should then separate from its frame and hinges, allowing access into wherever it is you are going. You may also attempt a running jump kick, which is much more badass.

III. If somebody were to exhume a cadaver and slump it against the door (at Commons), the cadaver would successfully open the door with the weight of its dead, unanimated body. If a dog has enough bulk and initiative it could easily rear onto its hind legs and paw the door open. If I were to ride a bicycle with enough speed into the door (helmet on, of course) I think I would be able to bump open the door. It is all so simple, it is all so effortless. Why force a machine to do it for you?

IV. I once saw a man dangling three bottles of champagne between his fingers and what looked like a full rack of a ribs (St. Louis style) on a ceramic platter. He stopped at a door and looked it up and down with puzzlement. He turned around and brought his knee up and then kicked his heel into the door like a donkey. He shouted “Yo, watch out!” and then walked backwards through the door. Everybody was impressed.

V. My mother worked at a department store in her young adulthood. She arrived to work late one day and walked quickly through the parking lot and towards the front sliding doors. She told me she did not remember what she was thinking when it happened, but she arrived at the doors with too little caution and walked into the door face first. She broke her nose.

VI. Because you can does not mean you should. The world and its many people are vulnerable. They do not want to be taken advantage of or misused. Everything has a purpose, fills a niche. The bird whistles its matin. The squirrel scurries and collects. The handicap button opens the door for people who have trouble opening the door. Do not rob the button of its purpose. Do not diminish its purpose. Just open the door with your hands.


Be a Man(Op)

The Manic Optimists will compete this year on “Sing that Thing”, a singing competition hosted by WGBH featuring choral groups from Southern New. After being eliminated in the final round in Season 2, they are approaching this competition with their titular optimism.

Last year the ManOps were invited to perform by WGBH, and did well in their first round. However, in the second and final round they were made to write a mashup of “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees and Handle’s “Hallelujah” chorus: “It didn’t go well, because we’re humans, not magicians,” said Gabriel Nott ’17, the group’s Music Director.

The judges also believe their mashup had too much focusing on dancing instead of singing. “That was weird because in the first round they really liked our dancing and told us to do more of it,” said Nott, noting that many members felt the criticism was not enough to eliminate them from the competition. Instead, The Doo Wop Shop from University of Massachusetts, Amherst won the college category.

Despite last year’s somewhat contested loss, they do not seem to have too much angst about their chances this year. “I think we’ve got what it takes,” said Kevin Melvin ’17. Part of the confidence is the change in format. Instead of being forced to write a new song, competitors will be able to choose what they want to perform.

This year they plan on starting out with the staple “Colder Weather,” and then pulling out the crowd-pleasing “Raining Men” if they move to the next round. The first round beings on February 10, and practice is heating up, not least because of their eleven new members.

“We’re just getting through teaching ‘Colder Weather,’ and now we’re going to be going through that process again but intensified, because only three people in the group have already sung ‘Raining Men,’” said Nott. Melvin, one of these new members, is not letting the workload get him down. “I know I’m super excited for it. I already love practicing with these guys and singing with them around campus — but to take it on to television, that’s something to write home to Mom about.”

As a slightly younger group this year, teaching new members is an important goal for the ManOps, and not just about singing. “As a personal goal, I want to try to show the people that are just entering the group what ManOps is really about,” said Nott.

And what is ManOps really about? “There’s definitely fun somewhere in that answer,” according to Melvin. “To me, when I was trying out that’s what attracted me to it. Knowing that the ManOps are approachable people you can talk to and fool around with and have a serious conversation with. There’s a lot of love there, and I feel like we always try to show that when we perform.”

“I think that we like to give off the sense that we’re performing that we don’t need to take it very seriously, but behind that we have a hard work ethic,” offered Nott. “Something that people have been saying to me since freshman and sophomore year is that we need to work hard in practice so we sound like we didn’t work hard. It’s balancing sounding tight and having arrangements that show off our fun style.” “Raining Men” would show off the ManOps distinct personality, though it might be new to the judges.

“I guess it’s the cocky competitor in me but I’m not worried. We’re working hard right now and I think we’re going to win,” says Nott. They will find out once the competition starts on February 10, but the results will be kept secret until the episodes air starting April 7 on WGBH2.


Split and stigma

M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie, Split, premiered last week and was met with general praise, earning over $46 million to date. The horror movie’s premise is the kidnapping of three teenage girls by a man with multiple psychological diagnoses, among them dissociative identity disorder. Dissociative identity disorder, or DID, is a psychological illness in which individuals develop two or more distinct personalities – hence, the title of the film. It usually manifests as a reaction to trauma, including severe physical and psychological abuse. James McAvoy’s character in the film has 23 distinct personalities, or “alters”, as they are often called in relation to the disorder. While Chief Film Critic of Variety, Peter Debruge, called the film a “resounding success”, even praising Shyamalan for “basically making up rules for dissociative identity disorder as he goes along”, others have expressed outrage over the film’s compliance in the stigmatization of mental illness. Although I have not seen the film and can only interpret what has been written about it, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to be cognizant of how mental illness is portrayed in media.

As editorial website, The Verge, succinctly put it, “Split is the latest horror film to misunderstand why mental illness is terrifying.” In an article written by Michael Nedelman for CNN a letter written to a psychiatrist by a patient is published: “There’s a new movie out about a person with DID. It’s a thriller/horror movie. Do I ever scare you?” 46% of Americans meet the criteria for a psychiatric illness at some point in their lives, yet despite its prevalence, mental illness is still incredibly stigmatized. Movies like ‘Split’ are not uncommon, and collectively they feed this fear. Generally speaking, movies and TV shows featuring mental illness as a plot device when they are written/produced/directed by someone who does not have said mental illness do not portray it accurately. When mental illness is the major plot point in a horror movie, it fuels society’s irrational fear towards and misunderstanding of those living with psychiatric illnesses. Films like Psycho, Shutter Island, and The Shining, all construct an image of mental illness being an indicator of violence, even though it has been shown in studies that there is no connection between the two factors. On the other hand, around 25% of the homeless population suffers from some form of severe mental illness, so why are we mocking a population of whom many are disadvantaged?

Films and television appropriate psychiatric disorders because our minds are complex and enigmatic and make for interesting subject matter. The thought of losing control over your brain is scary, but not in the way horror movies tell it. Instead of having their audiences empathize with characters, movies make mental illnesses and those who have them out to be something non-sufferers should fear. Hollywood exploits this stigma to make money, only further perpetuating our culture’s misunderstanding of mental health. The fact that directors, including Shyamalan, take liberties with the details and experiences of mental illness is irresponsible and, frankly, cruel. Instead of mental illness being the entire premise of so many horror movies, we need to increase representation in a meaningful way – that means featuring characters that live with mental illness without it being the focal point of the film. When mental illnesses are portrayed, they need to be thoughtfully and accurately represented. Psychiatric illnesses are common and exist on a large and varied spectrum and as a society we need to empathize with, understand, and support each other.


Green means intervene

Students explain what Green Dot means to them. PHYLLIS GRABER JENSEN/BATES COLLEGE

Students explain what Green Dot means to them. PHYLLIS GRABER JENSEN/BATES COLLEGE

As colleges and universities throughout the nation have worked in recent years to implement measures that mitigate potential for sexual assault and misconduct on campuses, Bates College, along with 500 other institutions nationwide, has led the charge through its dedicated involvement in the Green Dot program. In 2015, Bates College joined the Green Dot program in order to train students, faculty, and staff on effective violence prevention measures that ultimately work to reduce occurrences of sexual violence and assault by educating members of our community on useful intervention measures.

The Green Dot program, created roughly ten years ago, was founded by clinical psychologist Dorothy Edwards, who believed that the key to lowering incidents of sexual violence on college campus was to reframe the dialogue to engage populations that were traditionally excluded, such as male students and members of the faculty and staff. By creating a program that preaches intervention techniques to every social and administrative group on campus, the Green Dot program works to educate communities with practical and useful preventative techniques. The ultimate goal is to reach the point where every individual and social group on a college campus is versed in Green Dot intervention and prevention techniques.

According to the Green Dot webpage, “Green Dot, etc. is an organization built on the premise that we can measurably and systematically reduce violence within any given community. We believe current research across disciplines, in combination with lessons learned from history, provides nearly all of the necessary puzzle pieces to create a successful model of violence prevention.”

Currently over 400 students at Bates have been trained under the Green Dot program, excluding alumni. In addition, 34 faculty members and 188 staff members have also dedicated time to mastering the violence prevention measures central to the mission of the Green Dot program. Blake Reilly, Director of Residential Life here on campus, has worked tirelessly along with the Campus Life department to spearhead the Green Dot campaign at Bates, hoping to include individuals from all corners of the Bates community in the campaign against sexual violence.

“The main goal is to create a culture that does not tolerance violence,” says Reilly. Reilly’s approach to tackling sexual assault and violence through the Green Dot program is one that relies heavily upon inclusion in the program from the masses.

While the Green Dot program has already reached many members of the Bates community, Reilly and others involved in the Green Dot program wish to encourage students to exhibit leadership and expand the program in the coming years. “While organization of Green Dot will stay within the administration, we would love to create a program for students to become facilitators,” Reilly says.

Currently there are seven facilitators (staff and faculty members) on campus that are the individuals with the proper training and authority to conduct Green Dot training seminars. In the coming years, it is hoped that students may become facilitators, ultimately working to increase student leadership in the Green Dot program.

In the meantime, members of the Green Dot program are continuing to find ways to include as many members of the Bates community as possible. Exemplary of these efforts is the men’s basketball team, of which every player underwent Green Dot training in order to understand measures of violence prevention, but also act as a role model for other athletic groups on campus. The men’s basketball team recently collaborated with Connecticut College in hosting a Green Dot sponsored basketball game in Alumni Gymnasium. In addition, the Bates men’s and women’s squash team have also volunteered time to undergo Green Dot training.

As Bates College works to eliminate the risk of sexual violence and assault on campus, the Green Dot program will remain vital to these efforts. It is important that the Green Dot program continues to grow on campus, targeting and reaching as many individuals and social groups on campus as possible. Students interested in undergoing the Green Dot training program may find more information at

Which one are you?

Two weeks ago, in the #BlackLivesMatter course, a discussion occurred that has been on my mind for some time. I have noticed at Bates College there are quite a few students, including myself, who identify as allies to different oppressed groups. For an example, I believe that I am an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community and a feminist as I truly believe in rights for the LGBTQIA+ community and women throughout the world. However, is believing enough?

On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, Alicia Garza, one of the three founders of the #Blacklivesmatter movement, gave a talk at St. Mary’s College of California to people interested in fighting against anti-black racism, as well as connecting the community together. After her speech, she joined a diverse panel (White, Black, and Asian) who represented different races and experiences, but still had this common idea that white supremacy is not good for anyone. After the panelists shared their experiences in dealing with oppression and why the system should change, it was Garza’s turn to respond to what she heard from the other panelists. Garza validated and connected everyone’s experiences together, even that of the white woman who acknowledges that she will never know what it is like to be black in the United States: that she will never have to protect her son the way that a black mother attempts to by explaining the rules in which you oblige in order to survive in this country. The rules that ask you not be too black in public, but to be just black enough in order to get people to like you (being black enough by fulfilling the diversity requirement for schools, being black enough by performing above average in athletics, etc). Towards the end of Garza’s spiel, she stated that there are ways that the system could be cracked, and in order to crack it, “we do not need allies, but co-conspirators”.

In class we discussed the difference between allies and co-conspirators. As a class, we reached a general consensus – an ally is someone who does not act, but acknowledges the injustices that occur to minority groups. Allies continue to go on about their day regardless of whether or not something detrimental has affected another community. A co-conspirator is someone who acts on what they believe in and tries to bring justice to everyone. Co-conspirators are ready to fight for change, for equal rights and opportunity for everyone regardless of class, race, gender, sexuality or occupation. It is important to add that co-conspirators could have privileges such as being white, rich, male, heterosexual, etc., but are unafraid to use their privilege to voice concerns and fight for others in the non-dominant group.

Before discussing the difference between the two, I prided myself on being an ally to many different oppressed groups, but now my perspective has shifted. I am realizing that being an ally is not enough to bring change. Rather, I need to actively listen to the people who are being affected; when they need me in the front or back fighting for them, I must! I do not want to be an ally, but rather a co-conspirator. I will try to actively fight for justice for all because everyone deserves to have the privilege of a cis-gender, heterosexual, white male.

Being a co-conspirator means checking myself, my friends, family, and other people who I do not know when derogatory terms are used. Being a co-conspirator means being willing to stand up for oppressed groups because justice and freedom for all is much better than justice and freedom for some. Being a co-conspirator means making a change right now. This change entails less conversations and more action, because the conversation about ways we can end oppression have been going on forever. Now, it is time to act.


Men’s, women’s squash ride winning streaks into NESCAC tournament

Bates’ squash teams put a ribbon on another fantastic regular season this past weekend, winning their final two matches of the year. The women finished the regular season 12-3 on a six match winning streak, while the men finished 12-2 on an eight match winning streak. For Coach Pat Cosquer ‘97, these streaks are hopefully a sign of things to come as the postseason looms.

“The men have really worked hard these past few weeks since the loss to Middlebury. They are committed to taking care of themselves off the court, which enables them to come into practice and matches ready to consistently compete at a high level and helps them stay healthy and fit,” said Cosquer in an email. “Most importantly, the men’s team plays squash for themselves and for each other, and they understand that they will really need to push themselves and each other for a few more weeks in order to reach and achieve the team’s goals of reaching the NESCAC Finals and finishing with a Top 12 National Ranking.” Cosquer heaped praise on his entire ladder, pointing to Spencer Burt’s ‘17 leadership as captain and Hatata’s steady brilliance at number one specifically as keys to success.

On the women’s side, Cosquer pointed to two key victories two weeks ago against Franklin & Marshall and Amherst, who the women beat 6-3 and 8-1, respectively, as turning points in the season. “Strong team wins over competitive teams like F&M and Amherst have given the women’s team a renewed sense of confidence,” he said. “I trust that they’ll bring this preparation, focus and confidence into Nescacs next week. Luca Polgar, Kristyna Alexova and Vicky Arjoon are a very formidable top 3 and when they’re healthy and playing well, the women’s team can beat anyone they play.”

On Saturday, in their penultimate match of the regular season, the men’s side blanked MIT 9-0. Ahmed Hatata ‘17 continued his stellar play at the top of the ladder, winning in straight sets. His Egyptian compatriot, Mahmoud Yousry ‘20, was similarly efficient in the second spot. The men’s side only lost 3 sets collectively in their rout. The women were similarly stellar, as they dispatched their opponent Wellesley 8-1 on Saturday. Luca Polgar was dominant in the 1 spot, winning 11-7,11-2,11-3, while the sophomore duo of Kristyna Alexova ‘19 and Vicky Arjoon ‘19 both won in straight sets in the two and three spots respectively.

On Sunday night, in the class of 2017’s final home matches at Bates’ squash facility, both teams made handy work of their conference opponent Tufts. The men swept, 9-0, winning all nine matches in straight sets. Hatata proved dominant again, casually defeating Tufts’ number one in under 15 minutes. He conceded just six points. The women won 7-2, going in straight sets in all their victories, and only dropping matches at the bottom two rungs of the ladder. Darrius Campbell, who won his final home match 5,4 and 5 on Sunday, had this to say on the experience. “It honestly did not feel like my last home match, mostly because I was not thinking about it. I could get sentimental and take in the moment, but I also know that I have not had the best season in terms of results, so I need to focus on finishing the season strong if I want to play in individual nationals this year.”

Both teams now turn the page to the postseason, as they begin to prepare for the NESCAC championships this weekend, followed by the national team championships for the men February 17-19, and February 24-26 for the women. The individual national championships take place March 3-5. Captain Emma Dunn ‘17 emphasized routine, confidence and a team mentality as the keys to success over the next few weeks. “We are going to keep training like we normally do and continue our desire to win every match we can,” she said in an email. “We know that we can do it and we have the skill, but at the end of the day it comes down to being mentally prepared and believing in your ability to win. Every woman on the team is doing what they need to do so they are able to give 100% during all our matches.” Cosquer similarly mentioned that staying focused on routine will be key in preparation for the men

Asked if any ladder changes can be expected as the postseason approaches, Cosquer wittily employed the old adage; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


Sasha Lurje performs at Temple Shalom

Acclaimed Latvian singer Sasha Lurje performed at Auburn’s Temple Shalom last Wednesday, easily being the highlight of the congregation’s week. She performed a mix of traditional and modern Yiddish songs, accompanied by violinist Craig Judelman. Lurje also visited Bates College, giving a talk to Professor Cernahoschi’s class on Jewish lives in Eastern Europe.

Sasha was born in Riga, Latvia and began singing at a young age. Since 2003, she has studied Yiddish music, looking at its style and relationship with religion. She is currently in four different bands, each exploring different aspects of Yiddish music.

One of her bands, Forship, is a Yiddish psychedelic rock band with influences from jazz and reggae. Forship is the most eclectic of Lurje’s various bands, being described as “if Pink Floyd and The Doors had ever jammed together at a Jewish wedding” on her website. Unfortunately, this band did not perform at the temple, but alas it gives you a reason to travel to Latvia to see them.

Her next band is the Semer Ensemble, which features some of the most famous Yiddish musicians to recreate the sounds of 1930’s Berlin. They play all kinds of music, Berlin cabaret, Russian folk songs, opera, and cantorial music.

Sasha is also a part of STRANGELOVESONGS, an “interlingual” love song duo who perform strange love songs in not only Yiddish, but in Ukrainian and Russian as well. This way you can hear these “beautifully malicious” love songs and “laugh your way through lovesickness, lust, and murder” in multiple languages!

Her most famous band is You Shouldn’t Know From It, an international klezmer band from Berlin who play traditional Yiddish and Jewish dance music. They play all over Europe and at multiple festivals.

Lastly, Sasha recently started a collaboration named Goyfriend with a Brooklyn klezmer band. They explore the image of the Jews in folk culture and the intersection between Jewish, Slavic, and Baltic cultures.

Now, with all this mention of klezmer bands, you may be wondering what “klezmer” is. Well, it is the music of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. Generally, the music is dance-oriented and instrumental. Initially, when Yiddish-speaking Jews immigrated to America in the early 20th century, they mixed klezmer music with American Jazz music. During the 1970’s, there was a revival of traditional klezmer music. This type of music still remains a staple at Jewish weddings. There is even a weeklong klezmer retreat named KlezKanada that brings people from all over the world to learn about klezmer music and Jewish history.

The klezmer community is what brought Sasha all the way to Temple Shalom in Auburn. Rabbi Sruli Dresdner is big in the klezmer world, as he and his wife, Lisa, are master klezmer musicians. Sruli and Lisa know almost every single klezmer band out there: if your parents had a klezmer band at their wedding, Sruli probably knows the band. Sruli and Sasha know each other from their klezmer connections, which is why the congregation was so lucky to have seen Sasha perform. It was a truly special concert impossible to see elsewhere. Luckily, Sruli and Lisa perform often, sometimes even at Bates! They are not to be missed.


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