Author Archives: Caroline

Jewlicious, Revisited

By Caroline Kessler

So, it’s been a little over a week since I’ve returned from the gathering of the tribe that I previously mentioned: Jewlicious Festival 6.0. I’ve already written a tiny bit about it, mostly scribbled notes to myself and a blog post on New Voices about labels. (Other people are already chatting it up on the Internets, like here.) I’ll write a longer article for New Voices within the week. But I wanted to talk about one thing at more length here: music.

It was everywhere this past weekend. The minute we walked into the gorgeous, sprawling JCC of Long Beach, there was music coming from a loudspeaker (something catchy and Israeli, although I’m not sure what it was). At the Reform service I attended that night, there were two songleaders who encouraged us to get on our feet (we did) and clap along (again, we did). That night at dinner, our pale Pittsburgh group sat near some more religious Jews (read, more loud). We joined them in several songs and then started some of our own. Continue reading

A Gathering of the Tribe

By Caroline Kessler

Although it’s only Monday, I’m already planning for this Friday, February 19. Why? Because that’s when I leave, at approximately 5.30 in the morning, for Jewlicious Festival 6.0. Although I can barely speak the slightly cheesy name of this festival, Google has no trouble prompting you with the suggestion of “Jewlicious” after typing only “jewl,” as my friend Molly pointed out, amused beyond belief.

Some backstory: the director of the Hillel-Jewish University Center in Pittsburgh heard about this event and offered to send a few campus leaders from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to see what it’s all about. Already in it it’s 6th year, Jewlicious has been mentioned on the web-waves a few times and the positive feedback our director had heard about the festival convinced him to send us. So in a few days, five pale Pittsburgh students will board a (few) planes to get to Long Beach, California. Continue reading

Too many lectures on a Wednesday night

By Caroline Kessler

As I emerged from a coffee shop on Craig Street, a main thoroughfare for Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh students, I saw a crowd gathered outside the Hillel-Jewish University Center. I knew I would be a few minutes late to the lecture I was heading towards–Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, among other books and essays. I was attending because I was interested and for course credit–but I was also missing out on another lecture at the exact same time: Effi Eitam, an Israeli politician and a Brigadier General in the IDF. He was supposed to speak on nuclear Iran and the threat the country poses, but he quickly changed his agenda.


Because there were hoards of protestors lined up and down the narrow sidewalk outside Hillel, vocally protesting the talk. Although many events at Hillel have extra security posted, especially if there’s someone prominent attending, I was not expecting the verbal barrage that came. I moved quickly towards the protest, determining to push my way through and not respond to anyone. My reaction was quite visceral–pounding heart, clammy hands–and I didn’t even talk to any of the protestors. I wish circumstances would have let me, but I also wouldn’t have wanted to get into a screaming match with a member of Students for Justice in Palestine. Continue reading

Growth & Expansion

By Caroline Kessler

As Tu B’Shivat quickly approaches, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that some settlements will remain a part of Israel. Naturally, the New York Times is covering it here. Isabel Kerschner gives the often needed backstory of which regions Israel is continuing to settle, where they’ve put building freezes, and where they are willing to negotiate.

What struck me throughout this piece was the tree imagery. Netanyahu used the upcoming, tree-hugging holiday of Tu B’shvat to reiterate Israel’s claim on the Etzion bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem. He’s even quoted discussing this during a tree-planting ceremony.

From the article: “Our message is clear,” he said during a tree-planting ceremony there. “We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel for eternity.” Netanyahu will also plant saplings in Maale Adumim and Ariel, other settlements that Israel will keep.

The Palestinians refuse to negotiate until all building development is frozen. The juxtaposition of building settlements and planting trees is an interesting one, and I wonder it it’s made to win the hearts of environmentalists or to prove a point to the Palestinian leadership–you can stop inorganic building, but you can’t stop the organic growth of the state.

One last tree metaphor: Netanyahu said that Palestinian leaders had “climbed up a tree” and “they like it up there.”

Perhaps that’s taking things too far…

Caroline Kessler, hailing from the not-so-charmed city of Baltimore, is an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University.