November 20, 2017

Milken Archive - Ben Zion Shenker oral history project

One year ago today, the world lost Ben Zion Shenker, a rabbi, cantor and composer who had been dubbed "the greatest living figure of Hassidic music." Shenker devoted his life to niggunim--spiritual melodies used in Hassidic worship--in the Polish Modzitzer Hassidic tradition, starting with the melodies of Rabbi Saul Taub.

A new video from Milken's oral history project features Shenker's insights about the styles, inspirations and significance of niggunim in his own life, and in the various Hassidic traditions of Eastern Europe.

May 24, 2017

Arkady Gendler, z"l

From Jim Rebhan this morning comes this sad news:

One of the warmest human beings, and warmest voices in Yiddish song, passed away May 22, 2017. More on Facebook, search for "Recording Arkady Gendler", and from Tablet magazine: Arkady Gendler, a Paragon of the Yiddish Revival Movement, Dead at 95

November 23, 2016

Ben Zion Shenker, z"l

Just caught a post on Facebook by Hankus Netsky with the sad news: Ben Zion Shenker, the composer of hundreds of melodies, including 'Eishes Chayil' and 'Mizmor L'Dovid,' passed away Sunday morning.

From Fishel Bresler:

I had the incredible privilege and honor of getting to know Reb Ben Zion a bit through davenen with him at Modzitz in Brooklyn over the years. A real gentleman, and a pleasure to talk to (and laugh with) about music. The last time I spoke with him and heard him lead the service was just a month ago, at Shmini Atzeres/Simchas Torah. His voice was still beautiful, sweet and clear. The way he lived exemplified a life of modest, sincere avodah.

May he enjoy a lictign Gan Eden!

A video of Ben Zion Shenker singing "Yedid Nefesh" (posted to Jewish-Music by Moussa Berlin)

August 14, 2016

Fyvush Finkel, z"l

Copied from a post on Facebook by Corey Breier, shared by Sarah Gordon

The Yiddish Artists & Friends-Actors Club and the Yiddish Theatrical Alliance mourn the loss of our beloved board member, the Emmy award winning star of television, radio, film, Broadway and most of all Yiddish theater, our beloved Fyvush Finkel Z'L. Fyvush passed away early this morning at his apartment in Manhattan. Fyvush served as the number one resource for questions about the Yiddish theater in America and the actors, producers, directors, and theater owners who were part of its history. He knew them all. His passing is a tremendous loss for our "teater velt" (theater world). To know him was to love him.

The funeral service will take place this Wednesday, August 17 at 12 noon at the Sutton Place Synagogue,225 East 51 Street NYC. (Between 2 & 3 Ave).

Koved zayn ondenk.
Corey (Gedalye) Breier

Lori Lippitz, of Maxwell St. Klezmer, adds a link to this video:

The has excerpts from Fyvush Finkel, in English and Yiddish as part of their Wexner Oral History project.

Rokhl Kafrissen shares her memories (and blog posts) about Fyvush on

December 1, 2015

Alicia Svigals on cover of "Fiddler" magazine

"In the world of klezmer music, Alicia Svigals is a household name. Ever since her band The Klezmatics came on the scene in 1986 with its unique take on traditional klezmer music (she remained a member until 2002), Alicia has been the go-to person for klezmer fiddle."

Alicia Svigals: A New Role, by Matt Merta, Fiddler Magazine, 2015-11-20

July 25, 2015

Theo Bikel, "Di zun vet aruntergeyn"

Theodore Bikel (1924 - 2015) sings "Di zun vet aruntergeyn" at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research 13th Annual Heritage Luncheon in his honor on June 18, 2015. Accompanied by Daniel Kahn and Lorin Sklamberg. Video shared by YIVO. I believe that this was his last public performance.

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.

May 17, 2014

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.

December 5, 2013

Chana Mlotek, z"l, memorial, NYC, Dec 8, 2013

Chana MlotekCelebrating Chana Mlotek, z"l

Please join the Mlotek family with The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene in honoring the memory of Chana Mlotek z"l as people from all walks of life from the YIVO Institute to multiple personalities of the Entertainment Industry share their stories in celebrating the life & accomplishments of the beloved author, archivist, lifelong activist for the preservation Yiddish music and culture.

December 8, 6:30PM (doors open at 6PM)
YIVO Institute
15 West 16th St
NY, NY 10011

Seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis. Please contact Jackie Kostalos with your reservations.

If you cannot attend the memorial, but would've liked to be present, a livestream webcast will air here, and can be adjusted to view full screen.

November 6, 2013

Chana Mlotek, z"l

Without her Yiddish song books, my house would have so little Yiddish music. But, that was only the tip of the iceberg. Fred Blumenthal sends the following brief obit to the Jewish-Music list. A more complete obit is available from the NY Times (and eventually, on presumes, from the Forward?):

A Yiddishe Momme of Music, Chana Mlotek, Dies at 91

From today's Post-Dispatch: Deaths Elsewhere - Chana Mlotek

The noted archivist of Yiddish folk music has died at age 91. Her son Zalmen says she died of cancer Monday (Nov. 4, 2013) at her Bronx, N.Y. home. Ms. Mlotek was an impassioned collector of Yiddish theater songs and folk music from Europe's historic Jewish communities. Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer once called Ms. Mlotek and her husband, Joseph, "the Sherlock Holmeses of Yiddish folk songs."

July 4, 2013

Catching up - remember Mickey Katz, born June 15 over a century ago

I was a bit out of it this past month (bicycle accident—see Google Plus). Among the things I missed were Mickey Katz' birthday on June 15th. Happily, Eric Krasner has shared some links:

104 years ago on June 15, 1909, in the city of Cleveland, a baby born was born, Mickey Myron Victor Katz.

/ (includes video w/recording of "Duvid Krocket")

Need some "Yinglish" translation? "Duvid Crockett" was actuall banned in Mickey's hometown! Eric found this gem to help us understand the fuss:

"Big Chief" Norman Wain, a disc jockey in Mickey's hometown of Cleveland banned Mickey's hit, "Duvid Crockett" from his radio show on WDOK back in 1955. Radio host, Phil Fink translates the Yiddish and Yinglish lyrics for us in a search to find out why.

You can find out more about Eric's Mickey Katz movie project at:

Here are two clips from a 1979 interview with Mickey Katz, plus a very short clip of Mickey posing for an album cover, put online by Eric this year—he has more—fund him!

Mickey Katz posing for the cover of "The Most Mishige" (1958) from CineGraphic Studios on Vimeo.

May 3, 2012

Tribute to klezmer Avrum Segal, z"l

Moshe Berlin posted this video to the Jewish-Music mailing list, a tribute to the late klezmer and teacher in Israel, Avrum Segal, z"l who passed away just before Rosh Hashanna in 1993. The tribute was held in 1994.

April 11, 2012

Hester Lox, z"l

Long-time Bay Area music fanatic Hester Lox died this past Saturday night about the time that many of us were sitting down to the second seder. She had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer just a few weeks earlier and had volunteered at the Bay Area’s Jewish Music Festival (as usual) the night before she was hospitalized for her illness.

I left the Bay Area over 15 years ago, but I still have vivid memories of Hester cracking jokes and making puns (often deliciously bawdy jokes and puns) as we worked putting on shows, or just enjoyed listening to music together. It was with Hester, for instance, that I first encountered one of my favorite bands at their height—Brave Old World, nor was it a surprise that she had been an old friend of the group’s bassist/tsimbl player, Stu Brotman—one of many friends that I met through her and continue to cherish knowing.

What fewer people knew was that she also regularly played accordion (at least while I knew her) with Balkan music groups. She liked klezmer, but balkan music was probably the greater passion. It was through her that my own love of Balkan music was rekindled as she dragged me off (not entirely unwillingly) to local Balkan dance nights, showed me patiently how to work out the steps dancing behind the line, and then, herself, joined in with the best and most exuberant dancers.

In her not-so-spare time, Hester consulted as a professional organizer—the person who helps create order where previously there was none. In my case, she helped me located five years of missing tax receipts, get them entered into a computer, and enabled me to move into the adult world of people who are not having the IRS threaten to garnish their paychecks for imaginary amounts owed from taxes not filed oh so many years past. It is appropriate, then, to present this YouTube video of her discussing this particular professional endeavor:

Since leaving the Bay Area I have had few opportunities to return, and far too little time to catch up with old friends when I am there. I always assumed that Hester would be there, ready for dim sum on a Sunday morning, as soon as I got the chance.

I hate getting moralistic, or using the passing of friends to score political points, but Hester died way too early. She was middle-aged, like me. She was also under-employed and had no health insurance. Our failure to ensure that all residents of this country have access to health care—including the regular check-ups that might have ensured that this was caught early when it was curable—has once again killed a friend. It is time for Americans to stop pretending that it is civilized to turn health care into a lottery, and instead to ensure that it is a right.

But, having said that, I miss Hester. There is no amelioration.To those who were fortunate enough to know her, I say, cherish the memory of her stories about her night on Alcatraz, or of Balkan camp, and of adventures, musical and/or outlandish, all. She had a very hard and abusive upbringing. But, as an adult, she lived and brought life to everything and everyone. She tried to make the world a better, even a perfect place. There are other storytellers, other volunteers, but none like her.

From Lev Liberman:

She was a sweet, generous person who, it seemed, knew everybody in the West Coast Balkan and klezmer scenes. A tireless dancer, fan, and musical insider, Hester had the gift of turning a simple gig into an event. Over the many decades of our friendship, I got to see her wild persona (that biting wit, that omni-sexy vibe) as well as her vulnerable side (her struggles with work and life, her intense loyalty to friends). I can hear her voice, her laugh. Foxy Loxy will be missed.

There will be a memorial in Berkeley on May 20. Please email me for details.

January 4, 2012

Adrienne Cooper Memorial video online

I have put up most of the video from Sunday's Memorial on YouTube . It includes Michael Wex's eulogy, and all of the singing and poetry. I will be linking to better, and possibly more complete video when it becomes available. I just felt that something should be up as soon as possible for those who were unable to attend and who miss her as painfully as do those of us who were able to gather and take comfort from each other in person.

January 2, 2012

Yafa Yarkoni, z"l, pioneering Israeli singer, 86

From Ha-aretz:

Legendary Israeli singer Yafa Yarkoni dies at 86

Yarkoni was known as the singer of Israel’s wars and was one of the most acclaimed artists in the country."

December 27, 2011

Remember Adrienne

I have posted some of my own thoughts and memories of Adrienne, most appropriately, I think, on the "Jewesses with Attitude" blog: Remembering Adrienne Cooper: Mother to the Klezmer/Yiddish revival.

Adrienne Cooper passed away peacefully on Sunday evening after a long fight with cancer. Famous primarily for her extraordinary voice and ability to make Yiddish song clear to all, regardless of whether or not the listener understood the language, Cooper was, in many ways, the mother of the Klezmer/Yiddish revival of the 1980s.... [more]

Bob Blacksberg's photo, of Adrienne singing with a group at KlezKanada 2010, captures how I remember her, perfectly.

December 26, 2011

Adrienne Cooper Khane-freyde bas beyle-buni z"l

From Jeff Warschauer, last night:

"Adrienne Cooper passed away peacefully earlier tonight.
Borukh dayen emes.
Zol zi hobn a likhtikn gan-eydn un zol zi nisht visn mer fun keyn tsar."

Adrienne Cooper, source: KlezKanadaThe funeral will be held on Wednesday in California. A memorial is currently planned in NYC on Sunday, Jan1. Details to follow.

Despite knowing that she was failing, I find myself still unable to put down in words the grief I feel at losing a friend, and the grief of a larger community that has lost a friend, a teacher, an amazing performer and scholar, an advocate and activist. Among her lesser accomplishments is the co-founding of KlezKamp, an annual gathering whose 27th annual gathering convened just yesterday. Ari

In Monday's Forward, Jeffrey Shandler writes: Adrienne Cooper Embodied Progressive Spirit

Judith Pinnolis, who wrote Cooper's entry for Encyclopedia Judaica, expands it and adds her own appreciation: Adrienne Cooper: A Yiddish Light Goes Out

July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse, z"l

AmyWinehouseBerlin2007Not the first Jew to sing the blues, or to die of them. From the Guardian, "an obituary.

You can read more on Tablet magazine.

January 2, 2011

Harold Seletsky, z"l

Michael Winograd posts to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Harold Seletskysad to have to report some bad news, i just heard that Harold Seletsky has passed away.

while a great clarinetist, harold was also an innovative composer and thinker, dealing with abstract musical concepts and microtonal theory

while i only had a few interactions with the man, mostly when i was a teenager, he was the one who introduced me to the music of Joe Maneri, and the idea of attending NEC, where i ended up....

i found out later, from a friend who studied composition with him, that he had indeed composed a 24-tone freilach for two pianos, tuned a quarter tone from each other

im sure he's already playing clarinet trios with Joe Maneri and Naftule Brandwein

RIP harold


ps... learn more about his work at

September 13, 2009

Jo Amar, z"l, June 26, 2009

Jo Amar passed away on June 26. The news was first announced to the world in the Jerusalem Post on June 28. Haaretz captured more of the essence of the singer and his significance, with some wonderful quotes from scholar Edwin Seroussi.

The New York Times obituary also captured much of who he was: Jo Amar, Genre-Blending Jewish Singer, Dies at 79, by Bruce Webber, published Jul 9, 2009.

"Mr. Amar’s music was a hybrid, fusing Sephardic and North African-Arab songs, Jewish liturgical vocal styles and even Western-style harmonies into a kind of Middle Eastern pop. He sang in a bright, engaging tenor, recording about 20 albums, and with his crowd-pleasing manner, he performed not only in large performance halls with full orchestras but also in cabarets and at weddings and other private functions. He was often asked to be the guest cantor on Jewish High Holy Days, invitations he accepted selectively, in cities including Paris and Casablanca." [more]

Lori Lippitz, from Maxwell Street Klezmer, wrote: "I loved his singing and learned many tunes from his recordings. Very special to me is his Hamavdil with an Arabic-style chorus (French Morrocan)."

Continue reading "Jo Amar, z"l, June 26, 2009" »

June 2, 2009

Sara Alexander, z"l

from Hélène Engel to the Jewish-Music list:

Dear list members

Sara Alexander from her websiteIt is with with great sadness that I announce the passing away of Sara Alexander. She was an Israeli singer who settled in France after the 6 days war. She was dedicated to working towards a better undertanding between israelis and palestinians and released about 10 recordings as well as 2 books, one of them calle Shalom Salam. With her we lost "a Mentsh" and as she was not very well known in North America except Quebec, I invite you to google her name and discover her work and her music.

Several of her CDs are available from Please visit her website,

Sylvia Feder, z"l

Teruah blogger Jack Zaientz found this:.

'Feder Sister' found fame in Borscht Belt, Miami Herald, BY Elinor J. Brecher, May 17, 2009

"Sylvia Feder Roebuck, half of a Borscht Belt-bombshell sister act that evolved out of New York's Yiddish theater to 1960s variety television, has died at 88—at least two years older than she would ever admit to…." >>more

Jack Saul, z"l

Catching up from the beginning of last month. Lori Cahan-Simon, of Cleveland, wrote on May Day, 2009:

Khaveyrim, I am sorry to tell you all that the wonderful Jack Saul has passed today [May 1, 2009]. I know many on this list visited his amazing record collection and benefited from his extraordinary knowledge of music when they the visited Cleveland area. He was a gentle, kind, and generous soul who will be greatly missed.

There is an obituary, but without a picture, in the Cleveland Plain Dealer Jack Saul had a passion for music, especially classical, Saturday, May 09, 2009, Grant Segall, Plain Dealer Reporter

Continue reading "Jack Saul, z"l" »

Klezmer Michael Winograd: One of the "36 under 36"

Pete Rushefsky sent this last month, but that up-to-date Klezmershack is just posting it now. But many of us would claim that it's been obvious for far longer than the Jewish Week's discovery, anyway

I'm sure despite his best efforts to prevent it :-) , Michael Winograd has been honored by the Jewish Week as one of their 36 under 36!

Mazl tov Mikey!!!!

April 5, 2009

Pearl Lang, z"l

Pearl LangItzik Gottesman reported to the Jewish-Music list his sadness that Pearl Lang had passed away suddenly on February 24, 2009.

"One unforgettable moment with Pearl Lang—I was an actor in the National Yiddish Theater production of The Dybbuk in 1981 and at an early rehearsal Pearl, the choreographer, came over to us, me and 3 older Yiddish actors in their 70s, maybe even their 80s, and said to us in Yiddish 'Show me what you can do' and with no music playing they just spontaneously combusted into ecstatic Hassidic dance movements jumping and prancing all around the room. It was such a beautiful but surreal site to behold. Then after a minute, Pearl said, 'OK, I got it'."

Steve Weintrab adds: "It really is a great loss to the dance world. I studied with her briefly when she taught at the Alvin Ailey school in the 80's. And I had the honor and pleasure of performing for her and Felix (thanks to you, Itzik) at the Congress for Jewish Culture benefit honoring them both. She was a talented and tough woman, its a shame to have lost her.

"The Graham school has posted a bio and video tribute:

"I just spoke with Joanne Borts, who remembers her from when she choreographed Golden Land (for Broadway?) May her memory be for a blessing."

Judith Brin Ingber wrote a moving obituary to Pearl Lang, original published in the Jewish Week. It is now available on the Jewish Women's Archive in their "We Remember" section. There is a full biography in the archive's Jewish Women's Encyclopedia.

February 14, 2009

Cantor Susan Wehle, z"l

Alan Sisselman writes to the Jewish Music list on Friday:

I was saddened to learn that Cantor Susan Wehle of Temple Beth Am, Amherst NY was listed as a passenger on the Continental Airlines flight out of Newark that crashed in Clarence, NY near Buffalo last night.

She produced a CD entitled "Songs of Healing and Hope" inspired by her visits to the sick and dying. She had beautiful voice, performed at many community functions and was very active in the interfaith community. I am sure that an appropriate and complete summary of her accomplishments will be published. She will be greatly missed by many in the Buffalo community as well as Jewish music circles throughout the world.

It is truly amazing to see the human cost of this mishap as it has taken from us people who have influenced many facets of life ranging from music to human rights in Rwanda to keeping the memories of 9/11 victims alive. There may have been other artists lost but I don't have adequate information to verify anything further.

Alan Rubin adds this information from CNN:

CNN is reporting that Cantor Susan Wehle of Temple Beth Am (Williamsville, NY) was among the 50 people killed in last night's plane crash in Buffalo—

Alan Sisselman notes this lovely memorial in the Jewish Week:

A Voice For Healing, by by Rabbi Irwin A. Tanenbaum, Feb 18, 2009

January 23, 2009

KlezKanada tribute to Pesakh Fiszman, z"l

KlezKanada logo
KlezKanada has posted a short tribute to former staffmember Pesakh Fiszman on it's main page, Scroll down to read/view the tribute.

Ruth Ellen Gruber memories of Henryk Halkowski, z"l

Henryk Halkowski poses in Krakow in 1997 at a souvenir stand selling carved figures of Jews. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)Ruth Ellen Gruber's column, Ruthless Cosmopolitan, about the late, much-missed Henryk Halkowski.

More on Henryk on the Klezmershack

January 21, 2009

Adrienne Cooper - Remembering Pesakh Fiszman, z"l

Pesakh Fiszman photo, courtesy Bob BlacksbergAdrienne Cooper is gathering stories about Pesakh. If you have ideas/info toward a bio/obit for him, please email her.

I am having trouble accepting that he is gone.

January 20, 2009

Worlds within a World releases Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman film

Jack Zaentz covered this back in May, and here I am catching up—but this is important:

video coverYiddish Film Project
Worlds within a World: Conversations with Yiddish Writers
Beyle Schaechter Gottesman: Song of Autumn

The League for Yiddish is pleased to announce that the film Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman: Song of Autumn (BEYLE SHEKHTER-GOTESMAN: Harbstlid), the second film in our series Worlds within a World: Conversations with Yiddish Writers (A velt mit veltelekh: shmuesn mit yidishe shraybers) is ready and available for viewing and purchase.

Continue reading "Worlds within a World releases Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman film" »

January 18, 2009

Joza Karas, z"l

Eva Broman spotted this obituary last month in the NY Times:

Joza Karas, Collector of Music of Nazis’ Victims, Dies at 82, by Douglas Martin, Dec 6, 2008

Joza Karas, a musician and teacher who became a sleuth in his quarter-century search for the music and stories of composers who managed to do masterly work in a Nazi concentration camp, died on Friday in Bloomfield, Conn. He was 82. [more]

Bios of Jewish musicians in Poland between the two World Wars

From Helen Winkler, back in mid-December, comes this gem from

I came a cross a website today that give bios of various Jewish musicians in Poland between WW1&2—Thought it might be of interest.

Jewish Music in Poland between the World Wars. It is a partial translation of a book written in Yiddish originally.

There's a very moving section that talks about a musician, Jakob Glatstein, who led a children's choir in the Warsaw Ghetto, including a photo of the choir. (scroll down a short way)

Lori Cahan-Simon adds some additional resources:

I've been wanting information on just some of these people! I have the Jakob Glatstein 1918 book Di fraye muze and am so glad to know something more about both the book and the author/composer. Does anyone know anything about the music and school books of CJSZO (The Central Organization of Yiddish Schools ) or the Tzisha shuln in Poyln? I know about Israel Glatstein's Gezang un Shpil, Warsaw, 1920s, but haven't seen a copy yet.

Speaking of Poland and Yiddish, have you all heard about the hundreds of Yiddish books online to view for free from the Polish National Library?

January 17, 2009

Henry Sapoznik to be visiting scholar

From Hank Sapoznik:

… as of next week I'll be hanging out my shingle as "Visiting Scholar" of Yiddish-American Culture at the The Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies University of Wisconsin, Madison for the spring semester. I'll not only be teaching a course on Yiddish-American culture but bringing out one of our KlezKamp Roadshows, running an academic conference on Jewish continuity and other exciting cultural arts programs.

For more info go here:

Pesakh Fiszman, z"l

Pesakh Fiszman photo, courtesy Bob BlacksbergPesakh Fiszman was one of the nicest people, and one of the fiercest advocates of using Yiddish, I have known. Yet, he could also give an entire lecture on the history of klezmer, almost entirely in Yiddish, such that a non-Yiddish-speaking audience understood it easily. He will be missed very much.

The following was pass to the Jewish-Music list from Jeff Warschauer, conveying words by Kolya Borodulin

Pesach was a very dear friend, teacher, mentor and hero to Deborah, to me, and to countless others throughout the world.

Boruch Dayan Emes.

From Kolya Borodulin:

We are saddened to inform you that our dear friend and teacher, Pesah Fiszman passed away Friday 1 am. As per his wishes there will be only a graveside burial at Mount Hebron cemetery (13004 Horace Harding Expy Flushing, NY 11367) at 1 pm.

We are planning a memorial for our beloved Pesah and will notify you shortly.

Mit tifn troyer zogn mir on az undzer tayerer khaver un lerer, Pesah Fishman iz geshtorbn Fraytik 1 banakht. Loyt zayn onzog veln levaye un kvure opgerikht vern afn besoylem Mount Hebron (13004 Horace Harding Expy Flushing, NY 11367) 1 nokh mitog.

Mir planirin a haskore nokh undzer Peysakhn gor in gikhn un vel aykh lozn visn.

Mitarbeter un studentn fun “Arbeter Ring”

From Miryam-Khaye Seigel:

Ot iz nokh a tsugob informatsye (untn), vegn dem zuntik dem 18tn ven me vet im mekaber zayn.

Oyb ir vilt mit mir un Esther-Malke Goodman drukn a troyer-anons in Forverts, zayt azoy gut un shtelt zikh in kontakt mit mir.

Zoln ale gefinen a treyst in der shverer sho.

From Theresa Tova:

Dos is azoy troyerik tsu hern.
Pesakh hot gehat azoy fil derheretz far yedn yidish reder.
Un hot gelernt undz shtendik mit a vitz un a gitn mayse tsu dertsayln

My g-d he will be missed!

January 4, 2009

Yom Tov Ehrlich celebrated

Itzik Gottesman noticed this wonderful article: Yom Tov Ehrlich: Willamsburg’s Poet Laureate: Yom Tov Ehrlich by Michael Casper, from the local newspaper, the Brooklyn Rail

January 3, 2009

Henryk Halkowski, z"l

I met Henryk back in 1996, on the recommendation of Pearl Gluck. He gave me a wonderful tour of Kazmierz in Krakow and was a lovely person to have met. It is with great sadness that I pass on this message from Ruth Ellen Gruber

Henryk Halkowski, from Sam GruberI am sad to pass on news of the sudden death in Krakow of Henryk Halkowski, a true custodian of Jewish memory in the city, whom many list member will have met during the Festival of Jewish Culture or on other visits. He had a heart attack Thursday night, around midnight. He had just turned 57.

The funeral will be Monday at noon, with a gathering afterward at the Klezmer Hojs. Malgosia Ornat, of Klezmer Hojs and Austeria press, said: "It was such a shock for all of us. Kazimierz will never be the same without him and all his craziness. We will miss him a lot. He was so important for Jewish life in Kraków and a certain period of its revival is gone for ever."

A suggestion has been made to start a scholarship fund in Henryk's name, to further the kinds of study on Jewish culture and heritage (particularly regarding Krakow) that he loved. (But nothing has been organized's too soon...)

For Polish-speakers, ZNAK has run an obit, at and I know that I and others will be writing pieces too.

Ruth Ellen Gruber

Another obituary and a picture can be found in a posting by Ruth's brother Sam

Continue reading "Henryk Halkowski, z"l" »

The Forward: article on Serge Gainsbourg

Eliezer Kaplan forwarded a link to this fascinating article on the life of French-Jewish composer Serge Gainsbourg: The Man With the Yellow Star: The Jewish Life of Serge Gainsbourg.

December 28, 2008

David Breytman, a"h, 1948-2008

David BreytmanYears ago, awed by David Breytman's playing, I accused him of playing "speed klez." This past spring, with a new release by his band, Klezmania, Shmoozin', his playing had slowed. In response to my query, his bandmates let me know how sick he was. It was with no surprise, but deep sorrow, that notice of his passing arrived in August:

It is with heaviness of heart that I write of the passing of David Breytman.

A skilled bayan player, an honest and truly decent mentch, an ever-reliable member of our group, Klezmania, his smile, his playing and his very presence will be sorely missed.

Born in Odessa, David graduated from Music College where he studied to be a conductor, and performer of folk instruments. During compulsory military service he was a musician with the Red Army Choir. David became a teacher of music and later attended the Teacher's Institute where he trained as a secondary teacher. David learned traditional Moldavian, Rumanian and Yiddish melodies from his grandparents and from his extensive travels throughout Moldavia and the Southern Ukraine. He toured throughout the Ukraine and the USSR with the Odessa Instrument Orchestra as concertmeister. This ensemble won gold and silver medals for Best Folk Music Orchestra at ‘All Russia’ Competitions. He migrated to Australia in 1978 and became the musical director of the Sadko Balalaika Orchestra in 1980 which has toured Australia and the USA.

David joined Klezmania in 1993, and last played with us at our recent album launches in June.

Lionel Mrocki

Tributes flow for Klezmania member, Darren Levin, Australian Jewish News, Aug 26, 2008

Bruce Adler, z"l, 1944–July 25, 2008

Bruce Adler Dear Friends,

Our beloved friend, our brilliant star, our amazing Bruce Adler passed away Friday morning. The shock and the void are overwhelming. We have lost a precious soul and a giant of our culture.

May his memory be blessed. May Amy and his entire family be comforted with the knowledge that he profoundly touched so many thousands upon thousands of lives. He will live on in our hearts forever.

Here are a few obituaries that have appeared online so far;

Moishe Rosenfeld, President
Golden Land Concerts & Connections, Inc.

Continue reading "Bruce Adler, z"l, 1944–July 25, 2008" »

Harris Wulfson, z"l, July 23, 2008

I sadly catch up with some sad tidings from the months I was unable to keep up with email. Harris Wulfson died suddenly on July 23. This from July 26, 2008. I have concatenated several posts to the Jewish-Music mailing list, started by the death notice in the NY Times, and then emails from Eve Sicular:

Harris Joshua Wulfson

Harris Wulfson, from flickr, 12th St. DavidI very sadly report that the wonderfully talented and sweet Harris Wulfson has died. His gifts included an extraordinary ear for many styles on violin, particularly klezmer and Balkan musics.

We were fortunate to have Harris record as a guest artist on our first two Metropolitan Klezmer CDs, and one photo of him with the band has long been posted on our gallery page. (You have to scroll down and look to the left side of the screen; this image is from 1999 at Tonic, picture by Dennis Kleiman; Harris is in a red shirt on the far right.) This is also in the booklet of "Mosaic Persuasion" in higher resolution:

Harris had been involved with many other band projects too—I know he had frequented The Tank and Barbes, around NYC, in the recent past—as well as compositional graduate programs on the West Coast and at CUNY, and many other high-level ventures and adventures, even in the short time he shared with us all.

May his memory continue for a blessing.

Continue reading "Harris Wulfson, z"l, July 23, 2008" »

December 27, 2008

Moshe Cotel, z"l, Oct 24, 2008

posted by Haim Kaufman to the Jewish-Music mailing list on 12/17/2008. Stewart Cherlin wrote about Rabbi Cotel on the KlezmerShack several years ago: Moshe Cotel - Chronicles: A Jewish Life at the Classical Piano (Nov '04).

Rabbi Moshe CotelI thought it would be appropriate to post this information about Rabbi Moshe Cotel z"l on this list, since it was conspicuous by its absence. I first heard of Moshe's untimely passing from the following notice sent out to the Israeli folk dance community to which I belong:

Folk dance was one of the myriad of spiritual, artistic and humanitarian threads in the rich tapestry of Rabbi Moshe Cotel's inspiring life. An award winning composer, pianist and conductor of international renown—who had composed a symphony for full orchestra at age 13—he attended Rabbinical school several years ago and had been serving as Rabbi of Temple Beth El in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. Concurrently, he was touring in performances of his one-man show, Chronicles: A Jewish Life at the Classical Piano and Chronicles II: More Teachings from a Jewish Life. For more about Rabbi Moshe Cotel and his remarkable accomplishments, see

Continue reading "Moshe Cotel, z"l, Oct 24, 2008" »

October 22, 2008

Judy Wachs, 70, founder of Voice of the Turtle, z"l

Judith T. Wachs, from RootsWorldJudith Cohen writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

I was terribly saddened to read of Judy Wach's death [on Oct 9, 2008]. There is a place to sign a condolence book here.

The Founder and Artistic Director of the Sephardic music group, Voice of the Turtle, Wachs will be very much missed.

An article in the Boston Globe, Judith Wachs, 70; brought new life to Sephardic music, by Bryan Marquard on October 19, 2008, begins:

The epiphany came in the late 1970s when Judith Wachs heard someone sing the Sephardic folk song "Skalerika de Oro." It was as though she had been searching for this kind of music, and the songs were seeking her.

"Whenever I tell this story, I still feel the shock of hearing that piece for the first time," she told the Globe in 1997. "It was entirely Spanish, unlike anything I had ever heard, and yet it was unmistakably Jewish and totally reminiscent of everything I had ever heard. My first reaction was, 'How can there be a Jewish music I've never heard before? I've been listening to Jewish music from all over the world all my life.' "

rest of article

A discography of her work with Voice of the Turtle is available on Joel Bresler's new site

There is a wonderful 2000 interview with her from RootsWorld, Judith Wachs of Voice of the Turtle talks with Aaron Howard about 'creative conjecture' and the re-creation of Sephardic music in modern America., as well as a small live jounal entry by JWG.

June 29, 2008

Judy Frankel, z"l

Judy Frankel. Photo: Ken FrankelSephardic singer Judy Frankel died of cancer on March 20, 2008. Judith Cohen immediately wrote a remembrance, but I had no time to get it online before departing for travels to Israel. Frankel's role in documenting the music and making it available was tremendous, so with great pleasure, I have finally uploading Dr. Cohen's Remembering Judy Frankel

June 22, 2008

In praise of Pete Sokolow

Pete SokolowMark Rubin takes some time out to write about an essential (and ubiquitous) member of the Klezmer Community, Pete Sokolow. Follow the discussion and you'll get video, Wex, and more.

Remembering Marty Levitt and Rudy Tepel, z"l

photoStill catching up from several months of backlog, here is a note from Pete Rushefsky:

For those of you who missed it in the last Center for Traditional Music and Dance eNewsletter (which you can sign up for at, I interviewed Joel Rubin about the recent losses of clarinetists/band leaders Marty Levitt and Rudy Tepel. You can find the article here: Remembering Marty Levitt and Rudy Tepel

March 16, 2008

Samy al-Maghribi 1922-2008, z"l

From Judith Cohen:

Samy MaghribiI just learned that on March 9, Samy Al-Maghribi, as Salomon Amzallag was known, passed away. He was my oud teacher in Montreal in the early 1980s. Born in Morocco in 1922, he soon became a well-known figure in Andalusian music and after emigrating to Canada, served for many years as the Cantor of Montreal's Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. After retiring, he spent several years in Israel where he worked with the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra and eventually returned to Canada. He was a very fine singer, instrumentalist, and composer, highly appreciated in both the Jewish and the Muslim worlds, and a great person. Some information about his life and music can be found here:

From Hélène Engel:

The music lovers lost a great artist with Samy El-Maghribi. Fortunately we have great memories and a lot of recordings of him. On radio-shalom Montreal there was a special show on wednesday 12th and there will be another one on March 18th, at 8PM. Just google radio-shalom Montreal and you will be able to hear it.

In the future, there will be a couple of shows (2 or 3) going in depth into his work, actually into the different sides of his work : the popular singer, the classical singer, the cantor … and the person, also. His younger daughter, a friend of him and myself will be working on this very soon. If you have any memory or comment, you are welcome to send them directly to me, mentioning "SEM" in the title. I will gather all of them and use them for the shows.

Thank you to Judith Cohen who kept you posted about him. I was struggling with the English to announce it to you when I saw that she had done it already in a much better way than what I was doing.

Fwd: Marty Levitt 1931-2008, z"l

Dan Peck wrote to the Jewish-Music list for Henry Sapoznik:

Marty Levitt LP coverKlezmer Friends,

Marty Levitt, klezmer clarinetist and a one time popular Jewish band leader in New York in the 1960s died today. He was 77 and lived in Brooklyn, New York.The cause of death was lung cancer and lymphoma. Levitt came from a long line of professional Jewish musicians; he was the son on of famed klezmer trombonist Yankl "Jack" Levitt a noted Yiddish theater musician and member of the famed Boibriker Kapelle. During the 1950s and 1960s Marty Levitt together with his wife, vocalist Harriet Kane, had one of New York's most popular Jewish wedding orchestras regularly featuring an eight musician bandstand. The several LPs he recorded at this time for Tikva, Fiesta and other indie labels, picture a tuxedoed Levitt all pencil thin mustachios and horn rimmed glasses holding his clarinet at a rakish angle. Though not one of the best of the old line klezmer clarinetists, Marty Levitt commanded a unique and atypical repertoire and had a surprisingly literate knowledge of the history of klezmer music and its folklore. It was only his continual resistance to becoming part of the klezmer revival which kept him from being celebrated by a new generation of klezmer afficianados.

He is survived by a son, David, himself an outstanding jazz and klezmer trombonist.

From Hankus Netsky:

So sorry to hear about Marty—he was truly one-of-a-kind. When the "Klezmer Revival" started, he was one of the last guys on the New York scene actively playing the old repertoire—mostly because of his extensive contacts in the survivor community. His recording, "Wedding Dances," is a true standout among klezmer LPs, and he continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s, until a calcium deposit in his fourth and fifth finger on his left hand made it impossible for him to play the clarinet. As he used to say to me, "For most musicians, their dream was to play on Broadway or at Carnegie Hall. For me, my dream was to play on Pitkin Avenue." That was a dream he more than realized—no one knew as much about the Brooklyn Jewish music scene as Marty. He will truly be missed.

Paula Teitelbaum adds the last note:

He played at our wedding in November 1985.

According to the Discographie of the German book/cd on the Klezmer Revival, von der Khupe zum KlezKamp at least a couple of his LPs, including "Bar Mitzvah Favorites" have been on CD at least at one point.

January 30, 2008

Abe Brumberg, z"l

From Itzik Gottesman, posting to the Jewish-Music list:

Sorry to pass the sad news that Abe Brumberg died this weekend in Washington, DC. . He released an excellent and important album of yiddish folksongs "Of Lovers, Dreamers and Thieves: Yiddish Folksongs From Eastern Europe". Most of the songs had never been recorded before. A fine singer. The record was later released in CD form ( I bought it at the Workmen Circle bookstore in NY). He was also an excellent recitationalist of Yiddish literatrue and has a CD of his work available. My condolences to his family.

For those who want to know more about Abe, one of his articles, Yiddish and Hebrew, about the language wars of the early 20th century, is available online.

On Feb 12, 2007, Rachel Kafrissen post to the Jewish-Music list: 07brumberg.html?ref=obituaries
OK, so I just saw this. Abe Brumberg was officially the coolest Yiddishist ever (and Communistologist)—he recorded a satirical album with Joe Glazer (another awesome Yid) called "My Darling Party Line."

January 12, 2008

Rudy Tepel, o"h

Rudy TepelItzik Gottesman posted to the Jewish-Music mailing list this week that long-time bandleader Rudy Tepel passed away a few weeks ago. Hankus Netsky writes: "Rudy played with great passion and feeling. He actually started out as a dixieland player, but joined the Hassidic scene, since it fit his Orthodox lifestyle better. He was featured with 'Neginah' for a while and later was one of the best clarinetists playing the klezmer rep with Klezmer Plus in the early revival era. He made three excellent recordings on Westminster, which his son put out on CD, 'Chassidic Wedding,' 'Lubavitcher Wedding,' and 'Bobover Wedding.' [Recordings re-released just a few years ago, and reviewed on the KlezmerShack by Matt Temkin: /articles/temkin /tepel/temkin.tepel.html.]

For more information, there is a website devoted to Rudy's music:

September 29, 2007

Nina Stepanskaya, z"l

Nina StepanskayaFrom Zisl (Dmitri Slepovich), back on July 15, 2007. The delay in sharing this eulogy is entirely my fault:

I could not find strength to write you earlier. My beloved Teacher and a great friend of mine, Dr. Nina Stepanskaya passed away in Tel-Aviv after a continuos struggle with disease.

Today it is Shloyshim for Dr. Nina Stepanskaya (11.04.1954–16.06.2007), an eminent and devoted researcher of Jewish musical tradition, Professor of musicology at the Belarusian State Academy of Music. She lived and worked in Minsk, Belarus. Among her indisputable achievements are: founding an academic class on Jewish music studies in Minsk, making dozens of field recordings, including interviews and musical tradition samples in Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine, developing a brand new approach at understanding and systemizing Jewish musical tradition in general, and the Yiddish song and the Khazanut, in particular. Nina Stepanskaya brought up numerous generations of outstanding academic musicians and musicologists that currently are taking high ranks in world's most prestigious universities. Among her last works are the collection of articles "Evreyskaya traditsionnaya muzyka v Vostochnoy Evrope" ["Jewish Traditional Music in Eastern Europe"] (Minsk, 2006), an article "Historic and Stylistic Paradigm in Traditional Jewish Musical Culture", and an unfinished monograph "Musical Tradition of Litvak Jews". The musical heritage of Belarusian Jewry discovered by Nina Stepanskaya in expeditions and archives constitute one of the most important and large collections of Jewish musical folklore, it is also a valuable material on history of Jewish music, which cannot be underestimated.

She was loved by her students and colleagues for her delicacy, kindheartedness, wisdom, respectful attitude to others' opinion, along with ultimately high professional qualities.

Nina Stepanskaya passed away and was buried in Tel-Aviv. She was only 53.

Blessed be her memory. Zikhrona livrakha.

September 27, 2007

Writer Richard Grayson reminisces about "Uncle Dave" Tarras

Dave Tarras, courtesy 'Only the blog knowns Brooklyn'Many thanks to Bert Stratton, whose Yiddish Cup albums have long cheered me up when down, and who now goes the extra mile with this great spotting of a blog post by Richard Grayson about Dave Tarras:

… When I was a kid, Uncle Dave lived on Tilden Avenue in East Flatbush, just across the street from Tilden High School (closed last June and broken up into smaller schools). At one point my mother decided I should have clarinet lessons and Uncle Dave came over and gamely tried to instruct me….


September 10, 2007

new Steve Goodman bio

'Steve Goodman,' by Clay EalsI cannot claim to have "gotten" Steve Goodman during his lifetime. I dug Arlo Guthrie and treasured my copy of "Hobo's Lullaby" with its recording of "The City of New Orleans." But, I'm not much of a folkie. The Jewish kid from Chicago, high school classmate of Hilary Clinton, may have spent his youth singing in his suburban Temple choir, but his musical heart and soul were in Americana--in the blues he soaked up in Chicago clubs, in the folk songs that he learned everywhere, and in his own compositions, from "My Old Man," to "Men who love women who love men" and the "Dying Cub Fan's Last Request." Like fellow Chicagoan Mike Bloomfield, Goodman may have come from Jewish ancestry, but it was not an overt part of any of his music. Nor was he overtly political. And his records, at least those I encountered during his life, never moved me.

I owned one of his LPs for several years—his second release on Asylum—the one featuring the Tom Lehrer-zany "Death of a Salesman," but it was an easy CD to pass on to another friend. Then, a few years ago, I encountered a definitive collection (No Big Surprise: Anthology) with a whole insane live disk, and the joy and craft that he brought to music began to sink in. Now Clay Eals has written the only (and definitive by any measure) biography of Goodman. At 8x10 and two inches thick (complete with accompanying CD) this is not a book to be taken lightly. As documentation of a remarkable life and incredible music, it excels. It's just one of those books worth reading because it's well-written. I suspect that it would have won Goodman even more listeners if it had been 1/3 the size, but I'm really not sure what should have been cut out. Goodman wrote incredibly good songs, performed like a demon, and until he took over making his records himself, at the very end of his very short life (he died of leukemia at 38), he made okay-to-mediocre records. Good friends and cohorts such as John Prine and Jimmy Buffet became more famous. (Think of those two in the same sentence.) But Goodman's songs remain with us—those he wrote himself, like "Chicken Cordon Bleus" or "Vegemetic" (his humorous songs are the ones the grab me hardest) and those by others, like "The Dutchman" that he first popularized. But the book isn't just about Steve, it's about a whole folk scene that gave us Goodman, Prine, and helped make Chicago a synonym for incredible folk music, along with the city's blues.

The book is called Steve Goodman: Facing the music, and it's just out, by Clay Eals. Check it out.

May 13, 2007

Sid Beckerman, z"l

Sid Beckerman and Jonno Lightstone, jammingOne of my fondest memories of my first visit to KlezKamp occurred when I found myself awoken one morning by a group of clarinets practicing in my room—classrooms were aparently scarce, so one of my roommates had invited Sid Beckerman and the class to our place. It was just about the best possible way to wake up—in the middle of a class/jam session, with Sid at the helm.

Sid passed away on April 4, 2007. There will be a memorial event on Monday, May 21 at 8pm at the Congress for Jewish Culture, 25 E. 21st St. ground floor, Manhattan.

Continue reading "Sid Beckerman, z"l" »

February 15, 2007

Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter, o"h

Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter, from the League for Yiddish websiteFrom Paul Glasser--

iz tsu mir itst dergangen di troyerike bsure, az iz geshtorbn
Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter, der filolog, lerer, redaktor, leksikograf un
moyre-derekh fun a sakh fun undz.

I have just found out that Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter, linguist, teacher, editor, lexicographer and mentor to so many of us, has died. The funeral will be tomorrow morning, Friday, but the details have yet to be worked out. As soon as I have them, I will pass them along.

Update: the funeral will take place Friday, February 16, at 9:30 am at the Plaza Memorial Chapel, Amsterdam Avenue at 91 Street (SW corner).

Continue reading "Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter, o"h" »

November 13, 2006

Sylvia Braitman, z"l

photo of Sylvie Braitman at the Plush Room by Hester LoxJust got the news on one of the online news services that longtime Jewish-Music list participant Sylvie Braitman has passed away. Julie Sherman writes the following on the WELL:

Sylvie Braitman, singer, on Friday 11/10 after a very long fight with cancer

She was a child of survivors and sang songs from the Holocaust. She sang Kol Nidre for the Aquarian Minyan for many years. She was featured in the Jewish Music Festival numerous times.

Here is a link to a 2003 article about her life and work:

June 12, 2006

German Goldenshteyn, a"h

Pete Rushefsky has posted this to the Jewish-Music mailing list for Michael Alpert

Dear Friends / Tayere khaverim,

With deep, deep grief and a enormous feeling of loss, I am writing to inform all in the Yiddish/klezmer community that German Goldenshteyn, master Bessarabian traditional clarinetist and a dear, dear friend and colleague since shortly after his arrival in Brooklyn from Ukraine in 1994, died yesterday morning (Sat, June 10), apparently of a sudden heart attack, just one week short of his 72nd birthday.

Continue reading "German Goldenshteyn, a"h" »

February 19, 2006

Shoshana Damari, z"l

Shoshana DamariFor generations, Shoshana Damari defined Israeli music. She passed away on February 18th. Judith Pinnolis has written an obituary and has links to more information about her life

October 23, 2005

Paul Pincus (1918-2005), z"l

Paul Pincus and friend, by Bob BlacksbergPaul Pincus was a wonderful saxophone player that I came to know through his work in recent years with the Epstein Brothers. He also tutored my stepson, Ari Fertig, at KlezKanada one year. He was an amazing musican, a great teacher, and a delightful human being. Henry Sapoznik writes:

Our dear friend clarinetist/sax player Paul Pincus died last night in the wake of a stroke. He was about to be released to home care when his heart failed. He was 87.

I spoke to him a few days ago and he was his usually funny, upbeat and sweet dispositioned self. And despite his illness, terribly excited about coming to this year's KlezKamp.

They didn't get any greater than Paul Pincus.

The funeral is being held tomorrow. Monday, October 24 at 11 am at
Bloomfield Cooper Jewish Funeral Chapel
44 Burke Street
Burke Street & Wilson Avenue (Rt. 527)
Manalapan, NJ 07726

You many send condolences to Paul's family in care of his sister
Harriet Nemeth
26 Linsey Circle
Old Bridge, NJ 08857

Photo by Bob Blacksberg

September 6, 2005

Majer Bogdanski, z"l

Itzik Gottesman writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

I have to report the sad news that Majer Bogdanski died on Sunday, Sept 4 at the age of 93 (approx). A wonderful singer, composer, yiddish cultural leader in London. Others on the list who knew him better can write with more detail about his life and work. Er zol hobn a likhtikn gan-eydn - itzik

lovely portrait and decent typeMajer, who was born in Poland, but lived most of his life in the UK was credited as a source in the amazing 2000 Budowitz album, ">Wedding without a Bride. He was less successfully recorded in a CD released in the UK, "">Yiddish Songs—Yidish lider in that same year. As a mensh of the highest order, as a worker, union organizer, teacher, a canter and as a singer he will be missed by all who knew him.

September 3, 2005

Mike Eisenstadt, z"l

Mike EisenstadtIn today's Tampa, Florida, Tribune, there is an obituary for Mike Eisenstadt, long-time Jewish radio host, long-time klezmer clarinetist, long-time participant of the Jewish-Music mailing list, and of course, long-time activist in the Tampla, FL Jewish community and federation.

CD coverMike Eisenstadt

Mike had been fighting cancer for a couple of years, although, ever looking towards life, he found time and energy to record an excellent klezmer album (Chazak! / The Mike Eisenstadt Band) just last year. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Congregation Kol-Ami, LifePath Hospice, The Jewish National Fund or to The Caring Bridge at

January 15, 2005

Victoria de los Angeles z"l

Judith Cohen posts to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

hi, as you know, I'm not a great opera fan, and much much less a fan of traditional songs being performed by opera singers. But Victoria de los Angeles was a great singer and a great person, whom I met because she pioneered the performance of Sephardic songs in Spain: her "10 Sephardic songs" were the introduction to the repertoire for many Spaniards and in many ways the "justification" of a folk repertoire in the eyes of those who need such "justifications". But more than that, she was also a great person. I met her about 13-14 years ago, when we were both giving brief summer workshops at a university in the north of Spain, she in opera technique, and I in Sephardic music. At the time, I was doing a post-doc project on the performance of Sephardic songs in non'traditional ways, and was interviewing several singers- finding her at that same setting was serendipitous, and very rewarding. I was struck by how completely unpretentious she was, and how easy and delightful to speak with - and very moved when she told me she had "learned from me."

I read in the SPanish papers this morning that she has just died, at 81, having been admitted to hospital New Year's Eve. Another great one has gone, Judith

December 23, 2003

Discography of early European Jewish recordings

Joel Bresler reports on the Jewish-music mailing list:

I am pleased to relate that my colleague Michael Aylward has started to publish some of the results of his impressive seven-year effort to compile a discography of commercial European Jewish recordings on cylinders and 78s. His article (title above) appears in Vol. 16 of "Polin, Studies in Polish Jewry", Oxford and Portland, OR, The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2003.

He is covering traditional Jewish music, defined here as excluding performances in the classical tradition. So far, Michael has documented 5,500 recordings. It's well worth getting a copy of the article.

List members then came up with the following contact info: To get the volume of Polin look at the website of the publisher, or, in the US, go through International Specialized Book Services (ISBS).

Continue reading "Discography of early European Jewish recordings" »

December 18, 2003

Seth Rogovoy writes about Alicia Svigals

Seth writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

An article about klezmer fiddler Alicia Svigals by yours truly, advancing her concert and workshop at Spencertown (N.Y.) Academy on Saturday, runs today in the Berkshire Eagle.

You can read it at: Putting the fiddler back on the roof

August 26, 2003

Howie Leess, z"l

Eve Sicular, of Metropolitan Klezmer (a band originally founded around Howie), writes:

I am sorry to pass along the news that our great friend and wonderful musical comrade Howard (Howie) Leess died early Saturday, Aug 23. His funeral was held on Sunday in the Rochester NY area.

It's hard for me to write much more than that right now. I am so glad so many people had the chance to be at live performances he gave so beautifully.

we miss him... a beautiful man; an inspiration to have known him!

Condolences can be sent to: Shirley Leess 174 Brittany Lane Pittsford NY 14534 or by e-mail:

For additional memories of Howie Leess, see the KlezmerShack "Howie Leess, in Memoriam" page

July 2, 2003

Comic Robin Williams on the Klezmatics

This caught my eye from the current pr piece from Piranha Records, the label that distributes the Klezmatics (along with Emil Zrihan and a host of other amazing artists) in Europe:

*Piranha HISTORY - How Robin Williams worshipped the Klezmatics* It was when The Klezmatics where playing a weekly gay/Jewish comedy & music night in a club in NY, one night, *Hollywood actor*** Robin Williams showed up unannounced while The Klezmatics were playing. When they finished he hit the stage for some improvised stand-up, riffing on a gay/Jewish theme for 20 minutes. The first thing that came out of his mouth is now part of the Klezmatics legend: "With music like this, if you dont see God, youre fucking blind."

May 29, 2003

Joseph Moskowitz, ,Remembered

Moskowitz at Michel'sNo one who has heard his playing can forget it. Joseph Moskowitz, expert on the Hungarian cymbalom, was one of the early Jewish recording artists in this country. A descendent has started gathering memorabilia, and the KlezmerShack is proud to host this page, "Remembering Joseph Moskowitz."

If you have memoriabilia, or stories to share, send them to Scott I. Rosenthal:

March 22, 2003

Martin Schwartz article

Martin Schwartz, photo from UC Berkeley NewsSandra Layman writes on the Jewish-Music mailing list:

There's a nice article about Martin Schwartz of Berkeley, at:

His amazing collection of 78 rpm recordings, and his vast knowledge and enthusiasm concerning various genres and artists, changed my life and the lives of more than one other musician back in the late 1970s. And he's still at it!

November 24, 2002

Henry Sapoznik interview--the banjo scoop

Mark Rubin interviews Henry Sapoznik about the banjo. It was the banjo, in a way, that brought Sapoznik to klezmer. But Henry has a lot to say about the Sixties old timey music scene, playing banjo, growing up the son of a cantor, and, of course, klezmer banjo. The interview came out in the summer of 2002. Rubin just brought it to my attention this week.

October 16, 2002

Seymour Rexite, z"l

A giant of Yiddish culture, Seymour Rexite, passed away on Monday, Oct 14. The funeral will be on Thursday, Oct 17, 1:15pm at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 76th Street and Amsterdam. There is an obituary in the New York Times.

July 21, 2002

Michail Alexsandrowitsch z"l

We bring you a sad information: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has reported, that the great belcanto voice from Lithauania, Michail Alexsandrowitsch has gone silent. A. died at the age of 84 in Munich, where he lived since 1991. Born in 1917 in Riga, A. was one of the last students of Benjamino Gigli and became a khasn and was very popular in russia, although, the regime had made his life as a singer, who never covered his jewishness, very hard. Golda Meir and the UN finally helped him to go to Israel in 1972. From>.

December 10, 2001

My Travels, by Tamar Adams

At KlezKanada a couple of years ago, we were talking with Tamar and her mother about how awful it must be for Tamar to be always dragged along to exotic locations when she could be at home with her friends. To my pleasure, Tamar (13 when she wrote the article) had already written about just that experience in her mother's column in "The Canadian Folk Music Bulletin" 33.2 (June 1999), published by the Canadian Society for Traditional Music.