So much more than Kumbaya: music at Jewish summer camps and the formation of Jewish identity
Kent, Evan Stuart
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This dissertation investigated the influence of music at Jewish summer camp on individual and collective identity. I also examined how communal song assists in the establishment of a localized musical community. Although previous research indicated the importance of Jewish camp as an element in aiding the development of life-long affiliation to the Jewish community, greater philanthropic activity, a stronger connection to Israel, and a higher level of ritual observance, no research has specifically examined how music at Jewish summer camp impacts identity, affiliation, and behavior. This qualitative research project employed case-study research, with emphasis on narrative inquiry. Camp Hess Kramer, a summer camp in Malibu, California was chosen as the case due to its history of musical excellence and large alumni network. The theoretical and philosophical framework guiding this project was informed by Franz Rosenzweig's writings on redemption, Emmanuel Levinas's philosophy of the Other and ethical behavior, and Jacque Derrida's philosophy of hospitality and welcome. Data were collected through interviews with camp alumni, as well as an intergenerational focus group. Additional data were collected through analysis of artifacts as well as video and audio recordings. Themes indicated that for those interviewed, identity-personal and collective--is impacted by the experiences of communal song at camp. Campers carry the memories of the musical experience with them throughout their lives and reflect on them through a process of pseudosynesthesia. This synesthesia is created through the rich physical atmosphere at camp that encourages an interplay of all the senses. Camp was determined to be an environment where Rosenzweig's concept of redemption is presented through song and associated prayer and ritual. Recommendations for additional research and study include developing methods for promoting a fully embodied experience into the music education classroom, as well as creating synesthetic experiences as part of the synagogue liturgical experience.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--Boston University