DINA, ONLY SISTER OF JOSEPH, BEFORE HIS COAT OF MANY COLOURS
A STORY FOR OUR TIME
NOW IT'S HER TURN TO BE HEARD
WHO IS DINA?
DINA is the only daughter of Leah and patriarch Jacob. She has eleven brothers, including Joseph of “technicolour dreamcoat” fame (the twelfth, Benjamin, is yet to be born when her story unfolds).
Often written in English as Dinah, this spelling changes the Hebrew pronunciation from a short “ee” to a long “eye” sound. So, to be true to the Hebrew pronunciation, we choose Dina.
Her name means judgement; judged; vindicated.
One commentary suggests that when Leah was first pregnant with Dina, she was carrying a boy. She felt that her sister Rachel, as yet childless and also married to Jacob, might be further distressed by her bearing another son. So she prayed for this child to be female and Dina was born a girl, with a male soul.
So perhaps Dina’s lesson is to come to understand who she is from the inside not from the outside. And to discover the value of her true femininity (is this why she goes out seeking the daughters of the land beyond her own tribe?) as well as her masculine qualities.
How might she deal with the vengeful “honour killing” perpetrated by her brothers that they claim is in her defence?
And what might any of us today learn from this young woman in search of her self beyond her supposed identity as defined by family, tribe, beliefs and customs?
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS (AND DOESN'T SAY)
"AND DINA WENT OUT...."
She is first mentioned in the Bible in the book of Genesis, Chapter 30.
In Chapter 32, strangely, she is not mentioned when Jacob sends his family across the River Jabbok the night before he prepares to meet his older twin brother Esau, whom he has not seen for many years since he tricked him out of his birthright and father Isaac’s blessing to be the next patriarch of the descendants of Abraham.
In Chapter 34, her story is told.,Yet, only one action is seen from Dina’s perspective.
“And Dina went out to meet the Daughters of the Land.”
Everything else that unfolds is told from the point of view of the men involved.
After Dina goes out from her family encampment, Shechem, son of Hamor, king of the Hivite tribe long-settled in the region also known as Shechem (modern day Nablus on the West Bank), sees Dina and “violates” her. He then falls deeply in love. It is written that his soul “cleaves unto her”. With his father, he approaches Jacob and his sons and asks for Dina to become his wife.
Outraged at his actions, Dina’s brothers demand that he show his goodwill by becoming circumcised, like the men in their tribe. Moreover, every other Hivite man must be circumcised too. Shechem persuades his people to do this. 3 days later, two of Dina’s brothers, Simeon and Levi, lead the others and, whilst the Hivite men are weak after the circumcision, they kill every single one of them, taking their women, livestock and land for themselves.
When Jacob hears what his sons have done, he is appalled and despairs that all the other neighbouring tribes will now become their enemies. The brothers reply, “Should our sister be treated as a whore?”
BUT WHAT DOES DINA FEEL, THINK, EXPERIENCE AS THIS STORY UNFOLDS?
WHAT IS HER PART IN THE ACTION?
Thanks for photo of region of Nablus/Shechem by Jillian Edelstein
FINDING HER VOICE
Drawing on clues in the story in the Bible, piecing together fragments of Rabbinical commentaries, Christian perspectives, folk lore, we have relied upon tapping into our intuition, imagination and artistry to tune into and evoke Dina’s experience.
Starting with a commentary on Chapter 32 as to why Dina is not included as one of the family crossing the River Jabbok, we imagined what it must be like for a 7 year old girl to find herself packed inside a trunk so that her existence is hidden.
Inside the trunk
I become nothing
A girl who’s nothing
With hidden song
Dark as the moon that’s been rubbed out
Longing longing longing
Sand sand sand song
That falls through time
Inside the trunk
I hear crying
I feel beating
I hear breathing
I see dreaming
I become nothing.
The moment has come to listen to what has for so long been silent and longs to be heard.
SONG OF DINA may be inspired by a chapter in the Old Testament or Torah, yet the music and story call to all people, whatever their culture and beliefs.
Dina sings of her family ties and need to be free, a feeling of difference, a spirit of adventure, a yearning for sisters and to know those from other communities, a longing to be acknowledged and appreciated fully, by her father in particular, and respected by all, to find her place in the wider world and flourish according to her inner truth.
For the premier performances, two venues, a church and synagogue, both of which welcome those from any affiliation, seem a fitting starting place for Dina’s song to be sung.
ST JAMES'S CHURCH - Sussex Gardens, Paddington, London, W2 3UD
With it’s Gothic revival architecture and located near to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, St James’s has a rich history. Here, Oscar Wilde was married in 1884 and during WW2 the crypt served as a bomb shelter.
NEW NORTH LONDON SYNAGOGUE - 80 East End Road, Finchley, London N3 2SY
Home of a supportive and inclusive community that faces the intellectual and spiritual challenges of today with integrity and passion and pursues a genuine concern for diversity, as well as social and environmental justice. In addition to running religious services, NNLS offers a wide range of educational, cultural, inter-faith, social action and other communal activities for both its membership and the wider Jewish and non-Jewish London community.
DIANE SAMUELS is librettist and writer for Song of Dina.
Born and raised in Liverpool, Diane currently lives in London where she has been working as an author and playwright for over 25 years.
Work includes KINDERTRANSPORT, winner of the Verity Bargate and Meyer-Whitworth Awards, first produced by Soho Theatre Company in 1993, translated into many languages, performed in the West End, Off Broadway and all over the world.
Other plays include THE TRUE-LIFE FICTION OF MATA HARI, Palace Theatre, Watford, 2002; HOW TO BEAT A GIANT, Unicorn Theatre, 2007; PERSEPHONE (a love story), with Maurice Chernick, Rosemary Branch, 2013; THE A-Z OF MRS P, with Gwyneth Herbert, Southwark Playhouse, 2014; POPPY + GEORGE, Palace Theatre, Watford, 2016; THIS IS ME, snapshots of girlhood, life-story as interactive monologue, Chickenshed, 2018.
Plays for BBC radio, include HEN PARTY, PSYCHE, Woman’s Hour serial, TIGER WINGS.
Her plays and book, "DIANE SAMUELS' KINDERTRANSPORT" are published by Nick Hern Books.
We sense that music and song have a great power to heal.
We wish to move, inspire and bring people together, within themselves and with one another.
We set out initially to create an Oratorio with spoken word. Now we wonder if Song of Dina is a Semi-Opera, or is it a Cantata? Perhaps this combination of music, sung and spoken word needs a new name?
By giving voice to one hidden daughter of one people, we intend to give voice to the hidden daughter in all, exploring what her experience means and how to make sense of it now.
We invite all to question and be eternally curious about what we think we know, who we are and what we are not.
Who is Dina?
What is her importance?
What of the world where her story was first told is still alive today?
How do we start to hear what lies beneath the text, in the cracks between the words, in the forgotten spaces in our own lives too?
What needs addressing that we have failed to address and how might this be faced?
How to rebalance the dynamic between masculine and feminine in this world of polarities and fluidity?
How to piece together a new kind of peace.
Calligraphic Artwork copyright Vetta Alexis 2018
Cover - photographic print, 10 x 8, by Catherine Yass, UNTITLED from “DECOMMISSIONED” series (permanent exhibition at JW3)
MAURICE CHERNICK is composer and orchestrator of Song of Dina.
Born in Manchester, he spent his teens in Liverpool and now lives in North London where he works as a performing musician, composer and teacher.
Throughout the 1980’s Maurice worked extensively in England as an actor/musician in theatre and TV, composing music and lyrics for, amongst others, Yorkshire Television, the York Theatre Royal, The Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead, Leeds and Derby Playhouse, The Unicorn Theatre, and has written several musicals including A Midsummer Nights Dream and The Trojan Women. His most recent musical, Persephone, A Love Story with Diane Samuels, was showcased at The Rosemary Branch Theatre in Islington in 2013.
Maurice also plays clarinet and sings all over the UK and Europe in the Klezmer Band Shir which he manages and which performs Jewish folk music from Eastern Europe, Spain and the Middle East. He started the band 22 years ago and they are a major force on the UK Jewish Music scene. They won Best Performance of a Yiddish Song at the Amsterdam International Festival of Jewish Music 2012, and have been frequent performers in music festivals in Santander, Madrid and Cordova.
Somehow he is also finding the time to be Director of Music at The Henrietta Barnett School in North West London where he is jointly responsible for the music programme offered to girls between 11-18 years old. Since he began teaching, Maurice has written a huge range of choral and instrumental music for performance by his own students as well as those of other schools and in 2001, he composed the song sung by Enfield schoolchildren for the borough’s first ever Holocaust Memorial Ceremony.
RIVKA GOTTLIEB - HARPIST
Rivka trained at The Royal College of Music, the Juilliard School in New York (harp) and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (music therapy). As a harpist, she performs classical music both solo and in chamber ensembles, as well as jazz, rock and hip hop with various bands. She occasionally works as a studio-recording artist for film and television soundtracks, and particularly enjoys working with composers developing new works.
Matthew Pochin (Tenor) began his career as a chorister at Hereford Cathedral, where he later became a choral scholar and lay clerk. He went on to study at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
After several years as a pastry chef, Matthew moved to South London in 2007 to continue his career as a singer. He has held positions at several churches across the city and sings with the choirs of St John’s Wood Parish Church and Belsize Square Synagogue. He also sings regularly with the choirs of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court and St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London, and performs as an oratorio and consort soloist across the UK and Europe.
Katrina studied violin and voice at The Purcell School, Royal Northern College of Music and Royal Holloway before gaining her masters in Ethnomusicology at SOAS specialising in Klezmer and Israeli musics.
She enjoys a wide ranging performance career, highlights include: The Suppliants at The Gate Theatre London; Stephen Fry's Bright Young Things and as a soloist at the BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, St Martin In the Fields and Cadogan Hall. She regularly appears with chamber choirs, Minim and I Dodici alongside working for music education charity London Music Masters.
Katrina is delighted to have the opportunity to explore both her passions for Jewish culture and Contemporary music in her role in Song of Dina.
YOAV OVED - SOLOIST - Singing JACOB
Yoav Oved moved to England, from Israel, in 2012 to study music at Royal Holloway University. Upon graduating, his interests turned to Mizrakhi and Ashkenazi music, both secular and religious. He works closely with the Jewish Music Institute to educate through performance. The concert, “Songs of Israel”, built to represent this, has been performed at JCoSS, JMF, NNWS, LJS and private venues.
Yoav currently sings as a Cantorial Singer at Westminster Synagogue and lead singer in a Mizrakhi band “EasternBeats”.
He has given multiple recitals in London, Riga and Paris and has also participated as a soloist with the LSO in a contemporary visual arts project. Yoav appeared and sang in “100 Faces”, premiered at the Jewish Film Festival in 2019, and also recorded for the film “Disobedience”. He performed the "El Male Rachamim" prayer at the Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony at City Hall in Jan 2017 in front of the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, and Assembly of London.
RECORDING AND BEYOND
A live recording will be made of the concert at St James's Church.
This will be available online later in 2019.
Thanks for photo of region of Nablus/Shechem by Jillian Edelstein
RESPONSES TO SHOWCASE AT JW3 IN APRIL 2016
“The thing I really liked about the performance was the story that it started to tell…” D. Gilles
“What a wonderful evening. Both the story of Dina and your wonderful music kept us spellbound. There were many intricately woven layers, just magical.” S. Leader
“Beautiful. I'm so glad I was able to be there.” L. Sylvester
“We loved it. Really wonderful.” T. Metzer
“I just wanted to thank you for a beautiful evening. I loved the story and really enjoyed the singing! The choir was just beautiful!!! Please let me know if you ever need an extra soprano.” S. Swannell
“What a treat...We all just loved the music...the concept...hurry up and record it and we will buy loads of copies of the cd for everyone...Haven't enjoyed an evening of music as much since hearing The Messiah at Westminster Abbey last December...and I think you were right up there with Handel ...So very well done....looking forward to the final product....and the feedback we heard was all extremely positive....You must be delighted with this evening...and very rightly so....going to sleep smiling and enriched from a very special evening.” R. Anisfeld
“Just to say again how much we both enjoyed it. It was beautiful evocative and absorbing. Looking forward to hearing the full work!” S. Bennett
“What an exceptional evening the introduction to Song of Dina was. The detail of storytelling in such short rehearsal time was impressive and gave us a rich taste of Dina and her story. I left wanting to hear more.” P. Stott
“I'm so glad I made it. What an amazing story and inspired way of telling it. I look forward to more.” M. Glover
“Congratulations on a very powerful thought-provoking presentation. The music and singing were vibrant and arousing….I loved the chorus singing "deceiver" while Jacob sang "achiever". That absolutely epitomises the gender division.” R. Barnett
“I was fascinated by your work in progress and felt privileged to be able to listen to it. Thank you so much. I very much look forward to hearing how it is going to develop.” Rabbi Alexandra Wright
DINA (Sop) - a young woman
JACOB (Tenor) - also named ISRAEL, father of Dina, patriarch
ANGEL male (Tenor)
ANGEL female (Mezzo)
LEAH (Contralto) - mother of Dina, wife of Jacob/elder sister of Rachel
RACHEL (Sop) - aunt of Dina, wife of Jacob/younger sister of Leah
SHECHEM (Tenor) - young man and Hivite prince
HAMOR (Bass/Bar) - Hivite chief, father of Shechem
MOTHER OF SHECHEM (Contralto)
SIMEON (Bass/Bar) - Brother of Dina (second eldest in family after Reuben)
LEVI (Tenor) - Brother of Dina (third eldest in family)
DINA’S BROTHERS IN CHORUS
DAUGHTERS OF THE LAND – Hivite Women
Katrina Amigos sings Dina and Yoav Oved sings Jacob as they rehearse for fundraising event, December 2018.