“Mavens are information specialists…To be a maven is to be a teacher. But it is also, even more empathically, to be a student. Mavens are really information brokers, sharing and trading what they know…There is something about the personal expert opinion of a Maven that makes us all sit up and listen.” (Malcolm Gladwell)
Welcome (and a big mazel tov) to 22 brand new Lab/Shul Storahtelling Mavens who just finished a fantastically intensive four day training seminar in NYC. They are now locked and loaded with all the tools needed to open our hearts, utilizing the best of ancient storytelling technologies, Jewish interpretative methodologies, and modern artistic techniques. Naomi Less and Amichai Lau-Lavie, together with senior Mavens/trainers Sarah Sokolic, Franny Silverman, Jon Adam Ross, Jake Goodman and Naamah Harris-Imir took up residency at Temple Israel of The City of New York for four days of intensive work. Here are a few reflections from three souls in this impressive class:
My week of Maven training with the incredible folk of Lab/Shul was exhilarating, inspiring and joyous. It was also exhausting, challenging and confronting. We explored new ways to learn as well as new ways to express ourselves and share that expression with others. I loved delving into our ancient biblical texts and midrashim, I was amazed at the beauty of our Torah, and the lessons able to be drawn from it. Lessons about ourselves, our community and the human condition. I can’t wait to learn more, and begin to share the ancient gift of the maven!
During our “exhibitions of mastery” we unpacked issues ranging from losing control and how to reclaim it, letting outsiders in, how to take care of people even when you are making a choice that might hurt them, the power of laughter, difficult choices and saying goodbye. From just 14 verses! How awesome is Torah! Before my week of training in the maven method I don’t think I’d ever called Torah awesome. In 12 years of Jewish day school Torah study was always *yawn* and so was hearing Torah read in shul. This week we learned the beginnings of a way to help to make the Torah and all its wonders come alive, to unpack all the amazing lessons and issues that are there for us to learn from. To make Torah relevant and fun.
My experience in the week-long Storahtelling Maven training was intense, inspiring and informative. Beyond coming out of the training with a new tool with which to excavate the dormant depths of the Torah, I have also been reminded that the Torah too is a technology with which to excavate the depths of self and soul. The genuis of the Storahtelling method is to combine techniques like bibliodrama with the ritual of the weekly Shabbat Torah reading. This grounds the predominantly individual psychological work of bibliodrama within the collective sphere of public ritual and communal meaning making.
In this way, the Storahtelling methodology simultaneously empowers both personal and collective healing and transformation, connecting one’s own isolated issues and perspectives to the myths, narratives, and issues of the wider world outside of oneself. Additionally, I am especially excited about some of the scholarly work that is being done to connect the Storahtelling Maven method with the Mevinim of old, the Metargumim, the live-time translators and interpreters of the Biblical text for the community. I believe this research is exceptionally important to the Storatelling enterprise, as it roots the entire practice and pursuit within an ancient archetype from Jewish tradition. Reminding us yet again, that novelty is often found under the rubble of antiquity when seen in the proper light. This echoes the sentiment of the ancient prayer for us to be “renewed as in days of old.”
Carolyn Faye Kramer
The past four days have been incredibly transformative for my identity as a performer, as a Jew, and simply as a human being. I have learned such powerful skills, that I can apply to my work and play, both inside and outside of Mavening. I have a whole new community of friends, colleagues, and, quite honestly, soul mates. I feel that I have deepened, heightened, and evolved as a person this week, and am so beyond grateful.
While I grew up attending Hebrew school, going to Jewish summer camp, and in an observant family, I had honestly lost touch with my connection to Judaism after heading to college. Now I have explored and begun a new journey of discovering my relationship with Judaism. I am in awe of the Maven Training facilitators and Lab/Shul team, who brought their whole selves, creativity, spirit and generosity to this process. I am in awe. It was AMAVING, and did I mention FUN!