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May 31, 2014

Yaela Hertz, z"l

Yaela Hertz, by Alan LankinKnown to the rest of the world as a master violinist, teacher, mentor, Yaela Hertz was also a critical faculty member at KlezKanada where I was fortunate to meet her. She had that rare combination of extraordinary ability, insight, and human warmth that will be heard for generations as her students teach their students. Deborah Strauss posted on Facebook yesterday that she had passed away May 30, 2014. You can get a brief sense of who she was professionally from her entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia, or from this 1963 article in the Montreal Gazette.

Who writes for us secular Jews

There was a great piece by Ezra Glinter in last week's Forward about the growing fictional genre for people who have left the ultra-Orthodox community. It inspired me to read a new-to-me Tova Mirvis (which I enjoyed as much as her first book, a best-seller).

It also made me reflect that I rarely encounter fictional characters who resemble myself: a former Orthodox Jew who is generally quite religiously secular. Esther Broner captured a community in Israel (albeit, primarily only from the women's side) 30 or 40 years ago in A Weave of Women that was possibly the only time that I read a book and felt as though I could almost identity each character and its real-life inspiration—many of them friends. Since then, the closest I have come is, perhaps, Peter Mansur's Song of the Butcher's Daughter, which, centered at the Yiddish Book Center, at least centered around an institution that is important in my life.

It may be that I am sufficiently unusual—both knowledgeable about Jewish life, but distant from it—that I shouldn't expect to see people who look familiar. Michael Chabon's recent Telegraph Avenue at least featured some types, some even Jewish, that I knew from my years in the Bay Area, although their lack of connection to "Jewish" beyond some vague childhood culture points was disappointingly tenuous (if also quite common). What have you read that resonates? Who is writing about the American Jewish experience that resonates for you? Email me.

May 30, 2014

The things one learns from fund-raising mailers

It was in the today's mail. Kvell from the Yiddish Book Center. It contained an interview with donor Monty Hall. Who knew that the long-time "Let's Make a Deal" host was born in Winnipeg, Canada, and had such great memories of the Jewish community there.

You want to be on the Yiddish Center's mailing list (which includes the benefit of kvelling about being a donor to same), go to www.yiddishbookcenter.org/giving. Tell them that the KlezmerShack sent you.

While you're there, take a look at their new translation program. Pretty nifty! Might be worth whispering in someone's ear, "don't forget the women!"

May 25, 2014

Frank London's "Glass House Project" debuts

"The Glass House Project" Three concerts in NY & DC recreate the musical culture of Hungarian Jewish communities destroyed by the Holocaust Grammy Award-winning trumpeter FRANK LONDON (of The Klezmatics) brings together a supergroup of jazz/world/folk virtuosi from Hungary & NYC Working from meticulously reconstructed scores & archival records of long forgotten folk songs, performances range from the reverential to the decidedly experimental THE GLASS HOUSE ENSEMBLE: from Hungary MIKLÓS LUKÁCS, cimbalon BÉLA ÁGOSTON, winds SZIRTES EDINA MÓKUS, singer ÁRON SZÉKELY, kontra KATA HARSÁCZKI, singer from NYC FRANK LONDON, trumpet PABLO ASLAN, bass RICHIE BARSHAY, drums ARAM BAJAKIAN, guitar JAKE SHULMAN-MENT, violin Tuesday, May 27, 7:00 pm Museum of Jewish Heritage 36 Battery Pl, New York City Free Admission Wednesday, May 28, 6:00 pm John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Terrace Theater 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC Free Admission

May 22, 2014

Cantorial recordings re-imagined

This latest Yoshie Fruchter project needs help on Kickstarter. I'm in. How about you?

Schizophonia is an exploration of cantorial music found on 20th century recordings and re-imagined through a contemporary lens.

May 20, 2014

Hankus Netsky to speak at TheRetreat, Palmer, MA, Jun 12, 2014

Kind of neat that Jewish music makes it to an event of this type. Clearly klezmer is no longer avant garde ;-) (but that's been true for decades). Stephen Baum writes:

"Hankus Netsky is speaking at TheRetreat—a three day experience in Jewish learning, fellowship, davening, and sports at Camp Ramah in Palmer, Massachusetts. His subject is Klezmer music, and its migration from Europe to America—a migration that each of you has been a part of."

Info: www.theretreatfjmc.com/
tel: 781-724-2551

"The lecture itself is on Thursday, June 12th, beginning at 8:00 PM. Afterwards there will be some unstructured hospitality at the camp, but I'd really like to see that evolve into a Klezmer jam session.

"TheRetreat itself opens at 3:00 PM that day, with dinner at 5:45, and Ma'ariv at 7:15. It can be a wonderful weekend, and we expect around a hundred Jewish men from the New England, Hudson Valley, and Connecticut regions to attend. The first timer fee for the full weekend, including 4 Days and 3 Nights of a shared room in Camp Ramah's bunks, kosher meals & snacks, plus all lectures and activities is $250 for first timers, $315 for those who have been before.

"You are also, of course, welcome to just come for the evening itself, and that is free. It is a little over an hour from the Weston tolls at the I-90/128 intersection. If you'd like to, you could join us for dinner, and if you'd rather stay the night and join us for breakfast, that would be great too. The full weekend is a Men's Club regional event, but there are enough available bunk houses that it would be no problem to accommodate women who would prefer to stay over to Friday. Coming just for the lecture and jam session would be free, but if you'd like to come for full evening and following morning, it would be $75. Again, check the web site specified above for further information."

May 17, 2014

Elaine Hoffman Watts to be honored by PFP June 7, 2014

Folk Arts and Social Change Awardees Nana Korantema Ayeboafo and Elaine Hoffman Watts will be honored on June 7th at the Philadelphia Folklore Project annual bash.

The party runs from 6 PM - 9 PM at the Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, in Philadelphia. Expect food, fun, engaging activities, a wonderful crowd of people, and an all-around joyful evening! This year's Birthday Bash marks big changes at PFP, includes great performances (with your participation), and it honors amazing women who are inspiring models in folk arts and change. Support the Philadelphia Folklore Project and honor people in our region whose work in folk arts and social change is inspiring.

More info: www.folkloreproject.org/about/news/PFP27thBirthdayBash.php

Jewish Music Week in Toronto, May 18 - 25

Too many events to list, and it's not even Ashkenaz week yet!

Jewish Music Week in Toronto

Great new resource: YIVO Digital Archive on Jewish Life in Poland

From Gerben Zaagsma in the "Yiddish Sources" group on LinkedIn


Poland was once the home of the largest Jewish community in the world and until World War II was one of the great centers of Jewish political, cultural, and religious life.

YIVO's Polish Jewish Archive is the only American collection, and one of very few worldwide, which was saved from the destruction of the Holocaust.

Explore this world here through manuscripts, posters, photographs, music and other artifacts.

Aaron Lansky honored by White House

So, did I mention that this week Aaron Lansky, founder of the Yiddish Book Center, was honored at the White House? The Tablet used it to write a couple of great articles, including a short interview with Peter Manseau, whose Song of the Butcher's Daughter is one of my favorite recent novels, and perhaps the first to feature the Yiddish Book Center as a location:

Michelle Obama Celebrates Yiddish Literature: Awards Yiddish Book Center nation's highest honor for museums and libraries, by Hannah Dreyfus, May 8, 2014

The Irish Catholic Promoting Yiddish Literature Peter Manseau on accepting Yiddish Book Center honor from the First Lady, by Hannah Dreyfus, May 16, 2014

Yiddish Book Center blog: 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

di bostoner klezmer, Jewish Heritage Night @ Fenway, Boston, May 29

Wondering when to catch your next Boston Red Sox game? Thursday, May 29 is "Jewish Heritage Night" at Fenway Park. di bostoner klezmer is thrilled to have been invited to play before the game on Yawkey Way as fans go into the stadium to see the Red Sox playing. We play from 5:40 P.M. for 50 minutes. Come say hello. It will be fun.

Thursday, May 29at 5:40pm - 6:30pm
1 Yawkey Place,
Boston, MA

Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/1404376956514491/

Jozef Jankowski, z"l

From Roberta Levine, to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Renowned Polish musician, instrument maker, teacher, and Holocaust survivor Jozef Jankowski passed away on May 7th. He played Polish, Russian, and Jewish repertoire on pre-War Polish radio. He impacted many comtemporary klezmer musicians and once attended KlezKamp in Cherry Hill.

Josef Jankowski: Businessman, instrument maker

Thanks to Pete Rushefsky, we listed Mr. Jankowski on the KlezmerShack's "vendor" page for many years, with a testimony from Josh Horowitz.

New Klezmer class, Derbyshire, UK, 29-31 Aug 2014

From The London Klezmer Quartet:

I'm very excited to let you know that we're planning a klezmer course in Derbyshire for the end of August. Following on from the wildly popular KlezNorth spring weekend, a special course with the London Klezmer Quartet will be held 29-31 August in the same picturesque Peak District village. This one is for those who would like to delve deeper into the instrumental side of things. Course numbers will be capped at 30.


Youlgrave Village Hall, Holywell Lane, Youlgrave, Derbyshire DE45 1UT

Outline of activities

Jam: Friday 8.30pm til late at the Farmyard Inn
Course runs Saturday 11am to Sunday 1pm
LKQ in concert Saturday 8pm followed by session with optional dancing


  • Weekend: £45 (£40 early bird & concs). Includes Friday session and Saturday concert
  • Friday session only: £5
  • Saturday concert only: £10
  • Click here to book tickets

Klezmer Podcast 115 - Golem

cd cover

Golem has a hot new release featuring their patented klezmer/yiddish/balkan-ish punk anarchy. The opening song is like a cross between Cyndi Lauper's "Girls want to have fun" and Daniel Kahn. Get the complete scoop in this week's Klezmer Podcast as the Annette discusses "Tanz," and more. What I find most fascinating is her description of the inspiration for her current songwriting based on her husband's family stories—Russian Jewish stories not from our grandparents, but from our time. What better subject for a Jewish punk-rock-traditional band?

Klezmer Podcast 115: Annette Ezekiel Kogan, of Golem

You can also catch Annette, with violinist Jeremy Brown, interviewed by Sarah Ivry on Vox Tablet: www.tabletmag.com/podcasts/172178/golem-tanz

May 15, 2014

JewJamSouth, Aug 10-13, 2014

From our friends Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss:

festival logoJEWJAM SOUTH!

Join us for JewJamSouth, a four-day celebration of Jewish choral music, Yiddish song and klezmer music this August in Clayton, GA!

JewJamSouth will take place on August 10–13, 2014, at Ramah Darom's campus in the beautiful North Georgia mountains. The event is designed for passionate Jewish choral singers, klezmer instrumentalists, Hebrew and Yiddish singers and their families. Whether you are an experienced practitioner or a newcomer, this four-day festival will offer a feast of musical inspiration, ideas and fun.

JewJamSouth is open to people of all levels and backgrounds, and no previous experience is needed. Beginners are welcome.

Throughout the four days, you'll have a chance to participate in a hands-on ensemble program and study, perform and be mentored by world-renowned faculty:

Hazzan David Tilman, Program Director
"Hazzan David Tilman is Adjunct Associate Professor at the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the choral director at Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He also serves as Hazzan Emeritus of Beth Sholom Congregation, where he created a nationally recognized five choir program.Hazzan Tilman is an award-winning, life-long conductor who has traveled around the world and received numerous awards, including the first Moshe Nathanson Award in conducting and the the Samual Rosenbaum Award for lifelong achievement from the Cantor's Assembly. His travels have included trips to Germany, Havana and Chile, but he is also well-loved right here at home, as he has been the music director of Camp Ramah in Wingdale and Nyack, as well as at the Brandeis Bardin Institute in Simi Valley, California.
Jeff Warschauer, Co-Director
Jeff Warschauer is a Founding Artistic Director and Senior Artistic Advisor of the KlezKanada Institute for Yiddish/Jewish Culture and the Arts, is on the faculty of Columbia University in New York, and is a graduate student in Cantorial Music and Modern Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Deborah Strauss, Co-Director
Deborah Strauss is an internationally acclaimed klezmer violinist, an award-winning children's educator and a highly-regarded Yiddish dancer and dance leader.
The Strauss/Warschauer Duo
For over 25 years, Deborah Strauss (violin, accordion, vocals, dance) and Jeff Warschauer (guitar, mandolin, vocals) have been at the forefront of the international klezmer and Yiddish music scene. They were both long-time members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, one of the premiere groups of the klezmer revival, and have performed with legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman on film and in concert. They are renowned worldwide for their depth of experience and knowledge, and for their innovative performances, residencies and workshops.

The event will culminate in a one-of-a-kind joint choral/klezmer gala performance.

  • Come enjoy a breathtaking view and gourmet Kosher cuisine among new friends;
  • Experience formal and informal Hebrew, Yiddish and Israeli singing and dancing;
  • Participate in choral and klezmer ensembles formed by JewJamSouth participants;
  • Enjoy a full klezmer concert and dance party with the world-famous Strauss/Warschauer duo, pioneering performers of the klezmer revival; and
  • Learn new musical skills and repertoire to bring back home with you.
  • Email Bennie Cohen with any questions, and register now, as spots are filling up quickly!


May 6, 2014

From the Shtreiml CD release party

cd cover

From the CD release concert for the new Shtreiml recording, "Eastern Hora," featuring Ismail Fencioglu. The band also features famed Philadelphia trombonist Rachel Lemish, composer/keyboardist/harmonica player Jason Rosenblatt, the incomparable Thierry Arsenault on drums, and Joel Kerr on bass. This is the band's second release fusing Turkish and klezmer music into something delicious. Find out more at www.shtreiml.com/shtreiml.php:

Composition Prize: Reimagining the American Klezmer Jazz Band

CALL FOR SCORES • KCO COMPOSITION PRIZE 2015 Reimagining the American Klezmer Jazz Band COMPOSITION PRIZE 2015 Open to composers and arrangers ages 30 and under First Prize receives $1,000, performance of work, and live recording Multiple 2nd and 3rd prize awards available Deadline: December 19, 2014 (for best consideration, December 5, 2014) For guidelines, application, sheet music: www.klezmercompany.com/education.