Sunday, November 16, 2014

3rd Annual Sholem Aleichem Yiddish Klezfest


Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center presents:

3rd Annual Sholem Aleichem Yiddish Klezfest
Sunday, December 21, 2014, 1-5pm 

Featuring:
Aaron Alexander & Zoe Christiansen
KlezKamp Founder, Henry Sapoznik
Hy Wolfe
The Brothers Nazaroff (Daniel Kahn, Psoy Korolenko
& Jake Shulman-Ment)

With: 
Michael Winograd, Patrick Farrell and Mark Rubin

Dance Leader: Steve Weintraub

Final Act: Open Jam for All Musicians!

Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center
3301 Bainbridge Ave, Bronx, NY 10467

D train to 205th / 4 train to Mosholu Pkwy
One block from Montefiore Hospital
Info: 917-930-0295
$10 admission includes nosheray

With support from the Center for Traditional Music and Dance 
and the National Endowment for the Arts


(Tsvishn undz: Based on attendance in past years, the room will fill up FAST! If you want a seat, make sure you get there early.)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stories of Polin Needs You!

Perhaps you weren't able to make it to the recent opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Me neither.

Sad, I know. But, even if I/you can't be there, we can make our presence felt. The Museum is sponsoring a new project called Stories of Polin. Stories of Polin will allow people all over the world to connect with the museum, and each other, by exploring their connection to Poland and to Jewish life.

What exactly is Stories of Polin about?
Share your history. Reflect on your encounter with Jewish culture and history – people, family or friends or heroes, stories you’ve heard and books you’ve read. What did you find inspiring? Write about it. Send a short movie, an animation, a photograph, a drawing, or a piece of music. Inspire others.

The twenty most interesting stories will be on display in the Museum in 2015. In other words, you'll be famous. MUSEUM FAMOUS!!!   What are you waiting for???

Stories of Polin invites everyone interested in the history and culture of Polish Jews to share their stories. What’s your story?


Stories of Polin invites everyone interested in the history and culture of Polish Jews to share their stories. What’s your story?


For almost a thousand years, Poles and Jews have lived together in this place. They draw from each other’s rich cultures, experiences, and different perspectives. Today, Polish Jews live not only in the land of their ancestors, but also form a diaspora around the world. 

Stories of Polin invites everyone interested in the history and culture of Polish Jews to share their stories. What’s your story?

For almost a thousand years, Poles and Jews have lived together in this place. They draw from each other’s rich cultures, experiences, and different perspectives. Today, Polish Jews live not only in the land of their ancestors, but also form a diaspora around the world. 

Stories of Polin invites everyone interested in the history and culture of Polish Jews to share their stories. What’s your story?

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Litvakus and The Party Music of Jewish Belarus

My friend Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch just released the new Litvakus CD and - SPOILER ALERT - it's brilliant. Read my review here. And listen to this while you do. (You'll want to buy the whole CD. Get it here.)






If you weren't lucky enough to catch Litvakus at the Center for Jewish History last week, here's a clip. This is a Belarusian song about a Jewish girl named Khayke.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happy Unholiday

Unless you've been living under an unkosher rock, you probably know that we just said goodbye and git vokh to the marathon of holidays that started with Rosh Hashanah and ended with Simkhes Toyre (and then blended into Shabes, just for a little extra fun.) For a lot of people, it's finally back to the five day a week grind.

The afternoon before Yom Kipper started I saw a colleague at work and we exchanged holiday wishes. He said 'tsom kal' to which the jerky pedant inside of me insisted on responding that "tsom kal [a light fast] is just a calque from the Yiddish of 'hot a laykhtn fast'."

He happens to live with another Yiddish pedant, so he just smiled and waved. But it was true. And not just 'tsom kal.' Not content to scold in person, I took the matter to Twitter. 'Most of modern Jewish culture is just a secret calque from Yiddish. ADMIT IT.' And while I got a little pushback on that, I also got a great reference from a Twitter friend, perfectly on point.

After yontev my brilliant Twitter friend Shlomo Kay sent me this. It's a blog post called Origins of the Phrase Hag Sameah and it's a wonderful translation and summary of a Hebrew language post on the blog of the Academy of the Hebrew Language. The thrust of the post is that the phrase hag sameah (or khag sameakh) is fairly modern, only coming into wide use at the turn of the 20th century. And it is most definitely a calque (a word for word carry over) from the Yiddish gut yontev or a freylikhn yontev.

I often talk about the way that Yiddish language and culture is erased and delegitimized-- and delegitimized by its erasure-- and this is a pretty great example.

And here's some more secret Yiddish calques off the top of my head:

gut yontev ----> khag sameakh
hot a laykhtn fast------> tsom kal
gut shabes-----> shabbat shalom
in a guter sho-----> b'sha'a tovah

Please add more in the comments!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

This Time Last Year...

Last Sukkes I was in another state, cleaning out the remnants of my mother's life and thinking about what a sukke and a cement storage unit share in common:


I was taken by the contrast between the concrete cells of the storage units and the brittle fragility of the sukke. You can't really settle into either of them. Both are peculiar abstractions of domesticity. Stage instructions. Teddy bears and photos and good china- these are props. Home is something more- a lived experience animated for a time by the people inside.



(The author with actual bear lost in the memory purge of Sukkes 2013)

Read more here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Haunted Sukke and Open Mic at YIVO

Don't forget. THE HAUNTED SUKKE is Tuesday night at 7 pm. Tickets are $8. Call SmartTix at (212) 868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com


You have to admit, this sounds awesome. From the YIVO blog:
To introduce people, body and soul, to the deep folkloristic roots of sukkes, [theater artist Jenny] Romaine first has to transform the Center for Jewish History. Lights will dim, homemade Torah crowns will be tied to railings, and a klezmer band will transmit big brassy sounds across the Great Hall. With the help of cardboard pickles and ears of corn, the freight elevator will become a Jewish cornucopia, and audience members will gather for a séance in the second-floor atrium.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Notes from the Past

Just found a notebook full of these weirdo notes from 1999-2000-ish. Don't act like you don't have your own weirdo notes from the past with pages of unsearched queries...



With apologies to all my Karliner readers...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Vartn af Godot

New Yiddish Rep's triumphant production of the Yiddish language Waiting for Godot is now in previews at the Barrow Street Theater. I saw it this week and having seen it in the original run at the Castillo Theater, I'm happy to say it's even better than it was last fall.

So, that said, I have to get this off my chest. What do I love about Waiting for Godot? At least three or four times in the show, the characters actually say the name of the show. Am I the only one who gets a juvenile thrill from that?




Allen Rickman has joined the cast as Pozzo and brings his trademark Old Hollywood serious-silly verve to the role. And Shane Baker has been sharpening his clowning skills; his Vladimir has an intelligent physicality that an absurdist text like Godot demands.

Seriously, go, see it.

Buy your tickets now. Performances are limited and the show is only running through September 21st. And if you can't make it to New York to see the show, please think about supporting the work of the New Yiddish Rep, the talents behind this important new Godot.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Stories We Tell

I stumbled on this a while ago, but just decided to blog about it. PRI partners with Israel Story to bring us a slice of life from Israel, in English, in the style of This American Life.

The subject is one I've covered before: Mendy Cahan and Yung Yiddish. This particular iteration follows the 'Yiddish revival in Israel' pattern pretty much point for point, so I don't need to say much. There was just one thing that stood out to me.

Around 8:30 the narrator talks about the ways that the state of Israel suppressed and even criminalized Yiddish in an effort to promote cultural and linguistic unity. She says that all the Yiddish books lovingly brought from Eastern Europe to the new promised land now sat yellowing on the shelf. Skip ahead to the soi disant revival and Mendy collecting all those now yellowed treasures from pre-war Eastern Europe.

And yet. What we miss in the skip ahead is that after the war, the center of global Yiddish publishing shifted to Israel! I'd lay money that a great portion of the books in the collection of Yung Yiddish are actually relatively modern and published right there in Israel.

I'll quote myself, because I'm lazy:

"...from the 1950s to the 1970s the publication of Yiddish books in Israel increased by 500%.  At the same time, the number of books published in Yiddish far exceeded the number published in other world languages. In 1970, 54 Yiddish books were published in Israel but only 8 in French and 6 in German. In fact, the world center of Yiddish publishing had shifted to the state of Israel. Not a revival of Yiddish as a vernacular, ober s'iz oykhet nisht keyn kleynikayt.

The position of Yiddish in Israel is a lot more complicated than toggling between 'alive-ish' and 'dead-ish.'

 Yung Yiddish and Mendy are like catnip to journalists. You've got the quirky protagonist with his bushy eyebrows and hand rolled cigarettes. You've got a delightfully grotesque locale for a Yiddish library (in the bus station! next to the VD clinic!). And you've got a foregone conclusion, that Yiddish is a curiosity for Israelis, but ultimately, poses no threat to the cultural hegemony. It's lazy, boring journalism at its finest.  And that's a damn shame.