We gathered around a table in the upstairs part of Grit Coffee. Though there weren't very many of us, the intimate setting made it easier to relax and enjoy the spoken word poet Andrew Lustig. He performed a few poems expressing his feelings for Israel: love, reverence, fear, anxiety. After sharing one of his poems, called "I Am," he encouraged us to write for a few minutes about our feelings for Israel with the goal of imitating his style of poetry. We all wrote a few lines about our own experiences, and then took turns reading a line at a time, forming a new poem that represented our collective view of Israel. We discussed a little bit about our own experiences and tried to determine why we felt the way we did about Israel. Though we all have different opinions of Israel, of its politics and conflicts and leaders, everyone present was willing to be open and to share views with the rest of the group. All in all, it was a very meaningful and inspirational evening of poetry, creativity, and camaraderie.
Class of 2019
I was really looking forward to this event because I am very passionate about Israel, and I thought this would be a good outlet for those emotions I have been experiencing over the last month or so with everything that has been happening in Israel. When I walked into Grit Coffee and saw the poet, I realized that he, Andrew Lustig, is the same person whose video I watched on YouTube all those years ago that gave me goosebumps and put tears in my eyes. After introductions, he began to recite some of his work for us. It was all so moving, so emotional, and hit so close to home for me. Lustig talked about different experiences in Israel, different opinions he has had himself and has heard from others, and his overall thoughts about the constant strife in the Middle East. I have always admired poets; the way they string words together to make them sound like music, the way they recite their work so passionately and effortlessly at the same time, the way they truly make words into art and have such fervent meaning behind them. It was really amazing hearing Lustig's pieces and getting to discuss them with him in such a private setting.
Then we went on to an exercise where we all wrote anything on our minds about Israel; he encouraged us to write in a repetitive, one line fashion, and said we would be sharing afterwards. We went on to do an exercise where we strung all of our lines together to create one cohesive poem. I really enjoyed this event a lot. It was a great break from the world of studying and classes and gave us all an hour or so to talk about something that truly matters to us: Israel.
Class of 2018
The Brody Jewish Center, Hillel at the University of Virginia, is the focal point in a renaissance of Jewish life for the 1,000 Jewish students on Grounds.