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November 13, 2007

Just say nu - Yiddish widget for your webpage

St. Martin’s (who originally published “Born to Kvetch” and recently “Just Say Nu”) have produced a really cute little widget that delivers a silly Yiddish lesson each week – all taken from “Just Say Nu” and performed by Wex and the delicious Joanne Borts. Here it is in action! Or, take a look at Wex' website for another example – it’s right at the top of the page. If you have your own website or MySpace page and you’d like to add it (it’s really easy – they give you the html coding you can just copy and paste into your site) click on the words “Add this to my site” in the bottom left hand corner of the widget displayed on Wex's site.

Call for papers: "Music of Yiddishkayt"; Deadline 3 Dec 2007

Dear friends and colleagues!

The new issue of Jewish musical annual "Music of Yiddishkayt" is being
prepared. We announce a call for papers.

The annual "Music of Yiddishkayt" is published in Russian. Its volume is 240 -260 pages. It is dedicated to Klezmer music and Yiddish song, this will be the 4th issue. It is not a scientific publication, we focus on combining a research and popular view of subject. We try to make a book interesting for both a newcomer to Yiddish music, for "an experienced klezmer" and a person who just want to throw a glance at this culture
(and maybe - to stay with us). Among the authors are: Psoy Korolenko, Dmitry Slepovich, Polina Sheperd, Efim Cherny, Zhenya Lopatnik, Evgeny(she) Khazdan, Nina Stepanskaya, Jeffrey Veidlinger, Anna Shternshis, Alexandr Ivanov, Adrianne Cooper, Anatoly Pinsky and others.

The requirements: article should be in Russian or English, not longer than 20000 symbols (about 10 pages). Themes: Klezmer music; Yiddish songs; their history, theory and discussions about modern time; Yiddish singers; new songs in Yiddish and new instrumental pieces. Besides the usual themes, we welcome all
the new ideas and proposals.

The deadline for the materials is 3 December.

Best regards,

Anna Smirnitskaya, an editor. Email Anna

About the last issues (in Russian):
Issue 2006
Issue 2007. Also available at membook.ru/index.htm?books/idishkait07/info.htm or
You may buy a book here:
www.ozon.ru/context/catalog/id/1072722/?page=2 or Email Anna Smirnitskaya

November 8, 2007

New Winograd neo-trad klezmer CD--release party, Nov 12

Those who know Michael Winograd from his favorite current project, "Infection," or even from his klezmer-jazz band, Khevre may not have noticed that he sounds so good as an innovator because he plays traditional klezmer so well. Now he's put together a CD of new music in traditional styles. You can check it out next week in Pennsylvania:

CD cover Michael Winograd Klezmer Ensemble
@ Milkboy Accoustic Cafe, Bryn Mawr, Pensylvania
824 Lancaster Ave,
Nov 12, 7pm

This will be the first show that Winograd's new CD 'Bessarabian Hop' will be publicly available

w/ Michael Winograd - clarinet
Patrick Farrell - accordion
Daniel Blacksberg - trombone
Nick Cudahy - bass

November 5, 2007

Another late review: The Yiddish Policeman's Union

book coverIt took me a long time to get into Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. For the first half of the book I was struck by the author's imagination—an intriguing, vaguely plausible alternative universe leading up to our time such that many things were the same, and a few, including the local slang in this Yiddish outpost in Sitka, were richly different.

But, being clever with language isn't enough. Gradually, the detective story became more exciting, although the ending seemed a bit chaotic. I can't imagine what people who don't know Jewish history and culture read from the book. I don't know how the hints that the book was more than just another interesting curiosity, a Tzadik of the Seven Wonders for our time, came through to readers who haven't read the Hailblum, or more important in this context, who don't see the way in which Chabon has not only woven Jewish possibility into his alternative universe, but also woven an essay on modern, very real, Jewish history into the book, rejecting the Messianism that affects much of modern Jewish identification, and coming down to that very American Jewish—that very American idealist of conclusions: In the end, we have only ourselves on whom to rely, and that must be enough.

There is so much here about how basic human decency strives with fear and hope. In the end, this strange, wonderful tale is about love. That too, is good. What is even better, is that unlike current writers such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Chabon seems to have some awareness of Jewish history and culture.

There are few musicians in the story (this is where I justify posting about this book to the KlezmerShack), but in affirming the best of the web of influences that are part of the lives of Jewish-identified Americans, they are usually klezmorim. The story would be equally good, if it concerned an exile of Sephardic or even post-first-exilic community with other music. What is important is that the music, while also informed by pop American culture, is, like the rest of the book's roots, organically part of Jewish culture.

When I read The Fabulous Adventures of Cavalier and Clay I was struck by how Chabon was writing at an another generation's remove from the Holocaust, choosing to remember it and to make it real for his generation, but also informed by a culture that much more assimilated into American culture than was true when I was young the survivors included parents of my friends. The same is true, if on a bigger canvas, for the The Yiddish Policemen's Union. Both works are ultimately wonderful stories on their own terms, but even more wonderful as one digs into the symbolism, the rich Jewish yikhes, and considers them as great new North American Jewish writing (I say "North American" rather than "American," because I would also include writers such as Toronto's Ann Michaels in that small group). I cannot recommend this book too highly, It is marvellous. And it is a book that is rooted in both Yiddish and American culture in ways that are even more extraordinary. Hazak. Hazak. Hazak.

November 4, 2007

Klezmer Juice in "Una Noche Yidishe"

From the wonderful traditional klezmer clarinetist, Gustavo Bulgich, come these YouTube Videos of a recent show:

Gustavo here.

Please check out the posting of 2 videos from the show "UNA NOCHE YIDISHE" Premiered on October 20th @ the Red Cat theatre in Los Angeles.


New CD Release: Alisa Fineman

This just in from the artist:

CD coverAward winning songwriter, recording artist and evoloving cantorial soloist, Alisa Fineman's release of "Closing the Distance—Poems, Prayers and Love Songs" is her first Jewish music recording. Produced by jazz guitarist and former Windham Hill artist, Alex de Grassi, she is joined by a stunning array of musicians who add the spice and energy Alisa's voice invites. Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary says, "… a marvelous addition to the contemporary voices who continue to give life and vitality to the Jewish tradition. Alisa's heart is as warm as her superb voice." For details, see the artist's website at www.alisafineman.com.

new blog: "Learning Tsymbaly"

From Dan Carkner comes word of a new blog:

I've been working on a blog about klezmer, Learning Tsymbaly, and learning the tsimbl/tsymbaly from an amateur Canadian point of view. I usually play klezmer music on it, but I'm also interested in Ukrainian-Canadian tsymbaly music.

Conference: Music, Oppression and Exile, London, Apr 9-13, 2008

JMI logoYou are invited to attend or speak (and pass this on to those that may be interested) at the conference and concerts in London in April 2008 on
Music, Oppression and Exile:
The Impact of Nazism on Musical Development in the 20th Century

It will take place on Wednesday 9–Friday 11 April 2008

Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

It will followed by two days of concerts and public lectures presented by
The ARC Ensemble (Artists of the Royal Conservatory, Canada) and the English Chamber Orchestra Ensemble

Saturday 12, Sunday 13 April 2008
Cadogan Hall, Sloane Terrace, London, SW1X 9DQ

Papers are invited on any of these broad subjects below or related topics. Papers should be of approximately 25 minutes’ duration (with an additional 10 minutes for discussion). The deadline for the receipt of abstracts is 30 October 2007.

  1. Musical life in Europe before Hitler
  2. The mechanics of the Third Reich’s music policies
  3. Dispersal of composers and musicians
  4. Musical life in Europe after Hitler
Within these several smaller themes could be considered.

Invited speakers will include:

  • Gottfried Wagner, great-grandson of Richard Wagner who will speak in a public lecture

  • Michael Haas, producer of the Decca ‘Entartete Musik’ recordings; music curator of the Jewish Museum Vienna; and Research Director of the JMI International Centre for Suppressed Music, London

  • Bret Werb, Director of Music at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

  • Albrecht Dümling, Musica Reanimata, Berlin

  • Erik Levi, Royal Holloway University of London, author of Music in the Third Reich

  • Christopher Nupen, will introduce his remarkable film We Want the Light, which seeks to understand the meaning of music in human experience through the prism of its role in relationships between Jews and Germans

There will be a session devoted to interviewing close family members of exiled composers.

Abstracts of up to 250 words for papers in English should be sent to both of the conference organisers: Erik Levi (Reader in Music, Royal Holloway University of London) and Michael Haas

Fuller details can be found on Website www.jmi.org.uk

Yiddish Dance Research Symposium, NYC, Dec 9-10, 2007

The Center for Traditional Music and Dance and New York University’s Department of Performance Studies present:

The Yiddish Dance Research Symposium
“Defining Yiddish Dance: Secular, Sacred, Borrowed and Transformed”

Sunday, December 9, 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Edgar M. Bronfman Center
New York University
7 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003
(between 5th Avenue and University Place).

Admission: $10 general public, $5 students/seniors

Scholars wishing to register should RSVP to Center for Traditional Music and Dance’s Pete Rushefsky, 212-571-1555 ext. 36, or email Pete

A special session focused on strategies for revitalizing the Yiddish Dance tradition will be held on the morning of Monday, December 10th (call/email Pete Rushefsky for details).

The Yiddish Dance Research Symposium is a historic first-ever gathering of leading researchers, teachers and practitioners of the Yiddish (Ashkenazic) Dance tradition along with scholars specializing in dance ethnography, Jewish culture and other Central and East European cultures. The goals of the Dance Research Symposium are for researchers to share fieldwork, discuss research into the dance tradition and its place within Yiddish culture, and identify goals/strategies for future fieldwork and dissemination of educational resources.

The Symposium co-Chairs are Michael Alpert and Walter Zev Feldman, Ph.D. Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett of New York University’s Department of Performance Studies is the Symposium’s host and will moderate.

Sessions: Sunday, December 9 - 10AM - 6PM

  • Welcome from the co-Chairs and Moderator

  • Defining Yiddish Dance

    • Cultural Contexts

    • Dance Genres

    • Gestures

  • Analysis of Film and Video Documents

  • Connection of Dance and Music

  • The Sher and Contra-Dance

  • Interaction with Co-territorial Dance

  • European Hasidic Dance

  • Concluding Thoughts

Monday, December 10th: Special Session (place/time to be announced)
  • Strategies for Field Research, Documentation and Dissemination

  • Training Dance Leaders & Encouraging Participation

For hundreds of years, Jews were part of a diverse tapestry of ethnic communities in Eastern and Central Europe. Dance, particularly during wedding festivities, was an important means of cultural expression and community cohesion for Jews living in cities and shtetlekh (villages) alike. Much of the dance repertoire of East European Jews was of a multi-cultural nature. Nevertheless, Jewish dance also featured a unique vocabulary of gestures and genres. A variety of factors caused most traditional Yiddish dance and its associated klezmer repertoire to fall almost completely out of practice by the 1960s.

Participants at the typical American-Jewish celebration of today may move in a circle to the rhythm of the music but are at a loss as to the dance forms, steps and stylistic gestures of the tradition. While remnants of a limited number of dance forms and gestures are retained in Hasidic communities, today there are but a few elderly immigrant and second-generation Jews left who still perform, or can even recall traditional dance from either Europe or America.

Despite significant success in the revival of traditional Jewish klezmer music over the past thirty years, the associated Yiddish Dance tradition has received less attention and is at alarming risk of being almost completely forgotten. It is only thanks to the work of a handful of dedicated individuals (mostly operating without institutional support) that any fieldwork and documentation of Yiddish Dance has been done over the past thirty years.

Special thanks to Erik Bendix and Jill Gellerman for their work in helping to conceptualize the conference.

Thanks also to Renata Celichowska, Adrienne Cooper, Lee Ellen Friedland, Hayim Kaufman, Jill Gellerman, Itzik Gottesman, Cindy Greenberg, Judith Brin Ingber, Haim Kaufman, Janet Leuchter, Hankus Netsky, Ethel Raim, Karen Sander, Jake Shulman-Ment, Fanchon Shur, Mark Slobin, Steve Weintraub, Adam Whiteman and Helen Winkler.

Other Upcoming Yiddish Dance Events:
Thursday November 1st and Thursday December 6th from 7PM – 10PM
Tantshoyz (Yiddish Dance House) – Workshop/Dance Party at the JCC in Manhattan (76th and Amsterdam). Zev Feldman leads the dancing to live klezmer music. Dancers of all abilities welcome. $10/$8 for JCC and Workmen’s Circle members.

Support for the Yiddish Dance Project was provided to the Center for Tradi

KlezKamp 2007 announced: Dec 23-28, 2007 - Mame-Loshn: Women in Yiddish Culture

KlezKamp 2007 logo

Living Traditions is proud to announce the 23rd Annual Yiddish Folk Arts Program, KlezKamp, featuring our 2007 theme:
Mame-Loshn: Women in Yiddish Culture

December 23-28, 2007


To understand the centrality of women in the world of Yiddish, one need only look to our title for this year's theme, the coziest and most intimate expression used to describe our language: Mame Loshn: Mother Tongue.

For from its earliest incarnations—one of the first books published in Yiddish, the Tzena-Rena (a translation for women of Torah lore,
prayers and commentary)—to the unprecedented number of women on today's klezmer bandstands, the contributions of women to the vitality of Yiddish culture are undiminished.

To celebrate this tradition, KlezKamp—whose staff is 51% women—focuses on heroines such as poet Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman and veteran drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts, both winners of the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Folklife Award. (Elaine, along with daughter Susan Watts, will be recording a new CD during KlezKamp, another in our "A Living Tradition" anthology series.) We also welcome dance historian Judith Brin Ingber and legendary onagenarian pianist Shirlee Paul, and welcome back literary scholar Anita Norich.

Beyond the Mame Loshn theme, KlezKamp offers its vast array of Yiddish arts including multi-tiered music classes, an expanded vocal program, all-Yiddish offerings, more general interest classes and our second-to-none KlezKids program and teen theater troupe.

Our venue, the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa, offers luxury in the Catskill tradition, with a kitchen run by celebrated Culinary Institute of American graduate Chef Ed Kelly under the shtreng Glatt Kosher hashgokhe of Ha-rov Gershon Kreuser.

Now in our 23rd year, KlezKamp continues to innovate and inspire as a model for the vigorous and widespread resurgence of Yiddish culture around the world. Be one of thousands who, over the years, have made KlezKamp the Capitol of Yiddishland.

Detailed course information, staff biographies, schedules, FAQs and online registration may be found at www.livingtraditions.org/docs/index_kk.htm. A printable version of the catalogue and registration form may be downloaded from www.livingtraditions.org/docs/kk/kkprogram.htm

If you would like a catalogue sent to you in the mail, please email Living Traditions
and we will be happy to send one to you. Please email us the names of others you think would be interested in receiving information.

Living Traditions
45 East 33rd Street, Suite B2A
New York, NY 10016 USA
tel: (212) 532-8202 fax: (212) 532-8238
Email Living Traditions

Klezmer on the Square, London, UK

Geraldine Auerbach sends this reminder that not all documentation of fun Jewish music events happens in the US:

dancing in Trafalgar Square'Simcha on the Square' For those that are interested there is a lovely website about 'Simcha on the Square' which took place in Trafalgar Square on 14 October—the student who made a wonderful website of 'Simcha on the Square' last year—has done it again—look at this www.ukstudentlife.com/Ideas/Album/Simcha.htm He has also kept last year's photos and these are now at the following address: www.ukstudentlife.com/Ideas/Album/Simcha-2006.htm

Newton JCC Bookfair special: "Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive", Nov 11, 2007

book coverSunday, November 11, 4 PM

Join us for a
Special Boston Jewish Book Fair Event Celebrating the Publication of
"Yiddish Folksongs from the Ruth Rubin Archive"

Featuring live music by the Klezmer Conservatory Band's Hankus Netsky and vocalist Judy Bressler, the screening of Cindy Marshall's award winning short documentary, "A Life of Song: A Portrait of Ruth Rubin" and remarks by editor Mark Slobin

Ticket information: (617)-965-5226
tickets online

Dr Ruth Rubin dedicated her life to preserving Yiddish folk songs. Over the course of her career, Rubin collected some 2,000 songs from generations of people who had grown up in a flourishing Yiddish-speaking environment that was mostly ruined by Nazi annihilation and Stalinist repression. This collection is based on a manuscript that Rubin was unable to publish before her death, with additional annotation and commentary provided by noted music scholars Chana Mlotek and Mark Slobin.

Hankus Netsky is the founder and director of the internationally renowned Klezmer Conservatory Band. He has composed extensively for film and television and has collaborated with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Robin Williams, Joel Grey and Theodore Bikel.

Cindy Marshall's documentary "A Life of Song: A Portrait of Ruth
Rubin" was the winner of the Columbus Film Festival's Chris Bronze
Award. Highlights of the film include archival photos of Jewish life in
Eastern Europe and footage of Dr Rubin - in her eighties- gathering
songs from older Jewish folks in Montreal and educating young people
about Yiddish folk songs and their importance to Jewish life.

Mark Slobin is a professor of music at Wesleyan University and a scholar of Jewish and Central European music. He is the author of "Tenement Songs: Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants" and "Exploring the Klezmer World.

Tickets: $15, $12 JCC, National Yiddish Book Center, and Workmen's Circle members
Co-sponsored by the National Yiddish Book Center and Workmen's Circle *

Thursday, December 6, 7:30 PM
A Living Lens

A photographic presentation by Alana Newhouse, Arts and Culture Editor
of the Forward

A Living Lens

Alana Newhouse narrates a slide show presentation of photographs from /A
Living Lens, /

an extraordinary new volume of never seen before pictures from the
archives of the

/Forward./ Featuring the classic photographs associated with the
/Forward - /Lower East

Side pushcarts, Yiddish Theatre, labor rallies along with unexpected
gems such as Harry

Truman's haberdashery, Carpathian mountain musicians, and Mussolini's Jewish


Book Signing Follows - $7, $5 JCC, National Yiddish Book Center, and
Workmen's Circle members

Co-sponsored by the National Yiddish Book Center and Workmen's Circle

*Legen*Tickets: $H

Boston Jewish Book Fair Events take place at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish
Community Center, 333 Nahanton Street, Newton Centre, MA.

Ticket information: (617)-965-5226
tickets online

Stacy Phillips & Paul Howard: Jewish Music medley

It's hard for me to call a medley that starts off with a lovely "Shalom Aleichem," and has some clear Hawaiian influences a "klezmer medley," but the music is beautiful and Stacy remains one of my favorite guitarists: