Matan Daskal

Heschel’s poetic and relevant way of connecting spoke to me, igniting my thinking. 

Castle in Time Orchestra
Israel
A Secular Israeli Perspective

Transcribed from an interview

As music students, my friend Shalev Ne’eman (co-artistic director of Castle in Time Orchestra) and I first encountered Abraham Joshua Heschel as we engaged many different ideas—creating a hybrid orchestra with classical instruments and a rhythm section including electric guitar and a computer, exploring the concept of time, and contrasting the intensity of the work week with the peace of Shabbat and the intersection of black culture with Jewish and Israeli life. Shalev found Heschel online while searching for the last of these. He saw this incredibly strong image of Heschel walking with Martin Luther King, Jr. And through this, we discovered The Sabbath.

Everything clicked suddenly: We were already working on a song about Shabbat. We started sampling his interviews and inserting them into a hip hop song. The project, which started as a performance, became bigger—a series of workshops on the Sabbath with Bet Avi Chai, a premiere, and then a huge question: What should we do? We decided, maybe naively, to create an orchestra. When selecting a name, we based it on The Sabbath: Castle in Time Orchestra (In Hebrew: Armon B’Zman). As a dancer and a composer, this name merged both the physical and the metaphysical—a castle is part of the material world and time is a different dimension. What is a place in time? Shabbat kept the Jewish people unified when they were exiled from Israel, and Shabbat was the place that they came back to. But more and more than the historical thing, I just love the poetics of it—how time can be a place. And then it also kind of like echoing and place refers to movement and the body and time. Shabbat can be a cure to modern society, this Jewish idea to give a resting day. 

If someone spoke about Shabbat in a very religious or specific way, I don’t think it would have touched me. But something about how Heschel’s poetic and relevant way of connecting spoke to me, igniting my thinking. 

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