web analytics
March 31, 2015 / 11 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Modern Orthodox Students Meet to ‘Slam’ in Poetry Combat

The students could have come from anywhere, but the content of many of the poems dealt with various aspects of their relationship to God and to Judaism.

Award Recipients at Feb. 19 YU League Slam Poetry Competition at SAR High School

Award Recipients at Feb. 19 YU Slam Poetry League Competition at SAR High School
Photo Credit: Lori Lowenthal Marcus

It wasn’t exactly the Jets and the Sharks meeting for a rumble, but the competing schools had distinctive styles and there were some elements of scrappy street fighting vs. a more refined approach to battle.

On Tuesday, February 19, seven Modern Orthodox high schools from New York, New Jersey and as far south as Philadelphia, met at SAR High School in Riverdale, New York for a Slam Poetry Competition.

Slam Poetry, or “Spoken Word,” is a form of oral expression that combines elements of traditional poetry and the urban music style of rap. The subject matter of Spoken Word is very often personal, dealing with emotional conflict, the generational divides or one’s role in the larger world. It began in the mid-1980’s and took hold in particular in Chicago, New York City and San Francisco.  It has since spread all over the world, but remains an art form that appeals to and draws from a largely young, urban population.

As an experimentalist art form there are few rules: no props, costumes or music, and each piece can be only three minutes long.  Spoken Word is performance driven – while the writing is an essential part of the finished product, the delivery – that is, the visual aspect – is critical.  Spoken Word competitions – known as slams – take place in rounds with poets competing against each other, and experienced poets as judges.

The Yeshiva University Poetry Slam League had its roots in a poetry journal Mima’amakim, created by several Yeshiva University students including Aaron Roller, a former Rambam Mesivta student, and Hillel Broder, a current SAR teacher.

After Roller and Broder graduated, they decided to create a slam poetry league for the Modern Orthodox schools in the greater New York City environs. It combined elements of traditional slam poetry, but with a decidedly Jewish – not comedic shtick Jewish – bent. Roller and Broder joined up with Hillel Goodman, assistant principal of Rambam Mesivta, who was the first coordinator of the Yeshiva League.

Broder, who coordinates the SAR team, told The Jewish Press they view the YU Slam Poetry League as a continuation of the Jewish tradition of religious poetry.

“We look to Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, the great Spanish poet of the medieval age, and his schools of poets and poetry,” Broder explained to The Jewish Press.  “We see David HaMelech, the great psalmist, as the progenitor of this project, writing with the knowledge that our religion’s essential language of Tehillim is structured in the deep and condensed language of poetic expression.”

Broder says he and the SAR administration see this form of artistic expression as “an opportunity for d’veykut, cleaving to God, developing awareness of the divine.”

The League officially began a year and a half ago, with three competitions in the 2010-2011 school year; this year there will be four.  Roller, the driving force behind the mima’amakin movement, is now the league coordinator and is always one of the judges.

At the February 19 Poetry Slam, 45 students participated in the first round, with fourteen moving on to the second round.

Roller explained to The Jewish Press between rounds that his vision was to create an opportunity for students to have an outlet for artistic expression, as well as a format for non-athletes to interact with students in the other Modern Orthodox schools, similar to what the athletic league provides for athletes.

Because of his own background – Roller is a published poet – he is interested in encouraging the Spoken Word students to learn about different forms of poetry.  For each competition the students are required to create both a free verse poem and one that conforms to a particular verse format.  Last year, the students had to write a ghazal, a Persian poetry form that Ibn Ezra and others adopted for various slichot.  In another competition they had to use the haiku format.

At SAR on Feb. 19, the students competed in two formats, a free verse poem and a “pantoum,” a poetic form comprised of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza, and the last line of the poem is often the same as the first line.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Modern Orthodox Students Meet to ‘Slam’ in Poetry Combat”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Did the Israeli Air Force bomb a chemical weapons site outside Damascus on Saturday?
Saudi Arabia to Permit IAF Jets Entry to Bomb Iran
Latest News Stories
Chaim Topol as Tevye the Milkman

Chaim Topol, has been awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement.

Did the Israeli Air Force bomb a chemical weapons site outside Damascus on Saturday?

The Saudis are so afraid of a nuclear Iran, they might be prepared to let Israel attack Iran via their airspace.

20th Knesset Opening Session

The Knesset opening session was buzzing with new faces, as 39 new Members of Knesset joined their veteran colleagues in the swearing in ceremony.

Pesach Sacrifice 2015 4

The Temple Institute renacted the entire Pesach sacrifice ceremony.

“On days like today we want these children to feel the joy that any normal child experiences on their bar mitzvah.”

A family. 7 Children. An indescribable tragedy. How do they go on? How do we react? And what lessons are we supposed to learn?

More than 40 refugees were killed in a Saudi-led air strike while PA office accuses Israel crime by building homes.

The military implicitly admits to having improperly allowed a missionary group to indoctrinate soldiers.

Talks are likely to extend beyond Obama’s self-imposed deadline that he had said he won’t change.

The Iranian regime is hard up for propaganda, but maybe it is prophesying the future.

The Arabs rolled burning tires and three rocks at soldiers at the central Gaza security fence.

The Histadrut national labor union and the Federation of Israeli Employers have agreed to raise the minimum wage to 5,300 shekels ($1,334) by 2017, approximately half the average salary in Israel. The employers and the union previously agreed to a three-stage hike in the minimum wage. The latest agreement adds a fourth stage whole pegging […]

The clowns are back in town while ringmaster Netanyahu tries to tame the beasts.

A Reuters poll shows that America is increasingly polarized, especially about President Obama.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continued to lash out at a possible “bad deal” with Iran Monday and said, “The agreement being formulated in Lausanne sends a message that there is no price for aggression and on the contrary – that Iran’s aggression is to be rewarded.” Netanyahu said in a statement: The moderate and responsible […]

Release of a gag order reveals that the Israeli citizen and a friend traveled to Syria last year.

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi

Iran suddenly refuses to transfer its already enriched uranium, despite prior agreement.

Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Fordow is in an underground bunker.

Congress is ‘fed up’ with being left in the dark on the Iran negotiations

Saudi Arabia began airstrikes on neighboring Yemen which has been taken over by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Obama says Bibi has to prove he supports a “two-state solution.”

Obama’s Chief of Staff chides Netanyahu at the J Street Conference for refusing to embrace fantasy as reality.

A Cruz presidency as antidote to Obama: repeal Obamacare, dismantle the IRS, strong support for Israel.

The anti-Bibi campaign’s quiet change in tax status both came too late and constitutes an admission of wrongdoing.

V15 is barred from attempting to achieve its stated goals: defeat Bibi and create a Palestinian State.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/modern-orthodox-students-meet-to-slam-in-poetry-combat/2013/02/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: