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The College Pump

A Peal Before Leaving

May-June 2008

<em>&quot;Your wooden arm you hold outstretched to shake with passers-by.&quot;</em>

"Your wooden arm you hold outstretched to shake with passers-by."

Question: “What was I, a young American student of medicine and electrical engineering—and an observant Jew—doing in the frozen bell tower of a Russian Orthodox monastery in Moscow on the eve of the New Year?” Benjamin Isaac Rapoport posed that question in a February talk at morning prayers in Memorial Church.

Answer: Rapoport, A.B.-A.M. ’03, who is in his fourth year of the M.D.-Ph.D. program at the Medical School and does research on the design of brain-implantable electronic devices, is also head ringer of the Russian bells at Lowell House. During the winter recess, he and three undergraduate Lowell Klappermeisters went to the Danilov Monastery in Moscow, seat of the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, to study the cultural significance of these bells, to learn how best to ring them, and, said Rapoport, to become part of a renaissance of ringing in Russia.

Valery Anisimov

Photograph by Diana Eck

Valery Anisimov, director of the Vera Foundry in Voronezh, Russia, came to Lowell House in February 2007 with a team of artisans to make molds (right) of the surface decorations and inscriptions on the venerable bells. Back at the foundry, workers modeled the new bells in wax, created clay molds, and poured the bronze. Harvard chose this foundry because it was the only one able to make a bell as big as the Bell of Mother Earth, the largest of Lowell