Dr. Meir Buzaglo was the guest lecturer at the fourth session of this year's Negev Lab series, a forum for shared study and thinking about culture, art, and identity in the Negev.
The session began with reading the poem “Understand, You Rebels” in pairs. Written by Rabbi David Buzaglo (1903–1975), this poem is sung to the tune of “Bab el-Wad,” a song about the battles to open the roads to Jerusalem that was composed in 1949. When the lyrics of the liturgical poem are connected to this tune, it gives a new interpretation to a work that is based on the Israeli yearning for peace.
Next, the participants gathered for a discussion with Dr. Buzaglo, a philosopher who researches issues related to traditionalism and the connection to Jewish identity and Israeli culture. Through the study of his father's liturgical poem, Dr. Buzaglo spoke about the creation of traditionalism as a middle and mediating space between secularism and religiosity in Jewish society in Israel, and as a dialectical process of development that differs from the dogmatic views of discrete identities. Rabbi Buzaglo’s liturgical poem, which is associated with another canonical text in Israeli culture Haim Gouri's poem "Bab El Wad," by virtue of the tune that they share, sheds new light on the perception of what it means to be Israeli. Israeli identity includes a wide variety of voices — unlike the view of the “melting pot,” which sees diverse cultural heritages as a hazard — and is another step toward a multicultural prism that views the segments of society as “distinct islands.”
According to Buzaglo, the rise of traditionalism was a breath of fresh air, renewal, and connection, based on dialogue and tension. Liturgical music, as an element of traditional culture, reflects the social process of bridging the gap. Buzaglo added that it also contains the potential for fulfilling the Jewish prayer for peace and coexistence, particularly in the shared space of the Negev, where Jewish and Arab communities live side by side. The Mizrahi "piyut," or traditional liturgical poem, presents the Jewish-Arab heritage that existed for many years and enabled both communities to live together.
Dr. Ruth Calderon and
Dr. Adi Nir-Sagi, the Negev Lab series is a forum that brings together leaders and key figures from the Negev region to study and be inspired by local culture and art. Participants include leading figures from the Negev who work in the local authorities, academia, public institutions, and cultural organizations in local creative artistic fields. These joint meetings contribute to unique cultural thought and action that blaze new trails in the Negev.