Being a Part of the Performance

I’m currently in St. Louis, at a big Hillel conference, networking and making my pitch about Heart to Heart. Ton of fun.
I recently recieved an email from a friend which I think has such an unbelievably powerful message. This friend is the member of a Jazz band and performs at some local bars from time to time. As a college student, many of the friends whom he is inviting are minors, which recently posed a problem for an upcoming gig. Here’s part of the email he sent out:

The owner of [the venue] just called me and told me that he isn’t licensed for minors to be in the vault UNLESS they’re playing music. This happens to contrast heavily with our “minor’s allowed” policy.So here’s the plan if you’re a minor coming tonight:

1. There will be no cover charge because…
2. You will receive (unless you want to bring one) a very quiet percussion instrument and become part of our “percussion section” at a table near the band.
3. You don’t need to play the whole time but only when it feels right– you might also get a few solo breaks if you’re up for it…

Why wait to sit in when you could be laying down grooves the whole night long?
Hope to see you all there tonight!

This is amazing – in order to allow minors to be present for their concert, they are going to include them in the performance! The concept of making the “audience” active participants is such a beautiful and deep way to include people in the experience of which you want them to be a part. I was recently in a session (at a Hillel conference in St. Louis) where they talked about facilitation, and compared it to conducting (highlighted by this fascinating video)  There’s a lot of meaning behind that – and I think a lot of what I strive to do is to facilitate Jewish experiences and encounters for others, often by directing them and other religious students. But when dealing with all sorts of “stakeholders” or “audience members”, it’s so important (and often difficult) to remember to include others in the experience, to help them make the moment real for them. For example, to have different people sharing ideas at the Shabbat table (on kiddush, shalom aleichem, etc.), or having everyone act out a part in the Seder. Besides for getting them interested and active, it’s about them being part of the experience, not some “rabbi doing things for them”, or something external happening around them. Sure, it takes a delicate methodology to facilitate that, but I think it’s crucial for people to become committed or invested in something, and you never know what magic will occur!
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