Podcast. On telling our personal stories of ritual bricolage


Resource authors: Sef Townsend
Project: Ritual Reconstructed: Challenges to Disconnection, Division and Exclusion in the Jewish LGBTQI Community


Sef Townsend (Story-Teller; Musician and Actor who worked with community participants throughout this project) draws on his own personal experience of living and working on all five continents; and on his professional practice in reminiscence and language support work with immigrant and refugee communities; to inform his workshops in participatory storytelling and music.
Sef always encourages workshop participants to celebrate their differences, stressing the value of this element as much as the importance of enjoying common experiences of sharing, creating and using the universal language of story and music.

Below are some examples of Ritual Bricolage submitted to the project by Sef.

Sef Recording 1st July Image

This collection is very important to me. It reminds me of all those friends who have died in the last fifteen years, some from HIV related illnesses, some from cancer, or other illnesses, some LGBT, some not. The prayer is El Male Rachamim from the Yizkor or memorial service at Yom Kippur. The list of names is from members of our synagogue who are remembered at this time, and the silver napkin ring was a gift to a friend from his Manchester synagogue to commemorate his Bar Mitzvah. I always carry it with me when I read from the Torah on the High Holidays or festivals.

Bricolage Sef 4

The Tallis (Prayer Shawl) Case was hand sewn in silk for me by a dear friend and I always use it in my ritual observances. The collection of Kippot, the majority of which are gifts from dear friends are worn for different times at Friday nights and in the synagogue. They come from Algeria, Uzbekistan, Tadjikistan, Israel, Bangla Desh and Turkey. How interesting that most these important items in my Jewish life come from so-called Muslim countries. Some might view this as transgressive, but, of course, they’d be mistaken.

Bricolage Sef 2

Another item from my bricolage (text) which reminds me how I performed these famous lines in French from Shir Hasirim (Song of Songs) “Arise my love and come away”, for an artists’ gathering at a chateau in France. It was all very avant garde, experimental and artistique, which by definition, included nonconventional, queer and outsider artists. I chose this because as well as all the above it was Jewish and totally in keeping with the more ‘modern’ notions of cool.

Bricolage Sef 1_2 Bricolage Sef 1

These images tell of when I was studying Hebrew/Torah many years ago with my friend David, who signs himself דוד in the dedication that he writes in the cover of the Khumash pictured. He tells how he walked miles in the rain to buy me this book so that we could study together, and that studying Torah together means that we, of course, would meet again in heaven.