As I reflected later on my Yemenite moment in time, I couldn't help but think of all the traditions that so many Jewish communities throughout the world are fighting to maintain. There are countless variations of Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions that have their own melodies, their own chants, their own ways. We all read the same words, but after that, we're allowed to tweak. It's as if God gave us the consonants, and then said: "Have fun with the vowels."
On a rocky hillside in Mardan, Pakistan, in the 1990s, filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici stared in awe at a hulking pillar covered with faded script. The stone was an ancient propaganda sign, one of many that had been placed throughout a Buddhist empire 2,300 years ago. But while the other stones appeared in Sanskrit, the archaic language on this tablet was Aramaic.