Shmita Nigun 2021

Ryan Clapp

About Ryan Clapp

I’m someone who never thought about singing and recording a music video before their first Shmita year, that’s for sure! I’m the guy in the bright pants. I was incredibly nervous about collaborating with some really talented musicians, even if they were friends and neighbors. I’ve been a lifelong educator, and this shmita year, for the first time, I’ve been stepping away from that identity. It’s scary, but it’s leaving space to step into new works in art, writing, and apparently music. My partner and I moved to Dakar, Senegal, where we’ve been living for the past few months. Trying to find home and community in our own surroundings, studying French. Trying to slow down and heal bodies and spirits drained by supporting communities and ourselves through these COVID years. Counting blessings.

About Shmita Nigun 2021

As shmita teaches us to slow down, to reflect, I can’t think of a better representation than the meditative repetition of a nigun. In my life here in Dakar, Senegal, I life in a village with a huge amount of Sufi neighbors. Every night, multiple groups gather at home to chant for hours. The sound floats up through my windows. The first night, I thought it was someone singing niguns; the sound can be that similar. I feel so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by music at all times; there is always singing or drumming to celebrate, at all ages and skill levels.This artwork is as representative in it’s members as it’s sound. Ibrahim and Sharif are Sufi musicians who picked up the nigun melody immediately, and wove in their own sound. My friend Liz considers herself Jew-“ish,” and hadn’t been a part of a nigun circle before. My partner Carolyn is considering converting to Judaism, and for her as a singer, Hebrew melodies/chants are one of the things that makes her feel most connected to the culture. As for me, it was a nigun song circle/activist group that centered me in my current Jewish identity.All of these people and stories came together, to sing this long, slow new nigun, to learn about shmita and celebrate a year of rejuvenating. To enter into the singing -to even listen to it- forces us to slow down, and I hope to come together. I imagine a world where special nigun are sung by Jews all over the world on their shmita year, with the new or familiar faces around them. If this submission wins any financial prizes, it will be shared with the musicians featured.