Articles

Simone Veil’s Jewish Music farewell

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Los judíos de Francia, parte intrínseca de la nación y centro vital de sus fibras más liberales y su resistencia al fascismo acudieron en masa, junto con las autoridades y el pueblo de Francia en general al homenaje, y traslado de sus restos mortales, de Simone y Antoine Veil al panteón de Los Héroes de Francia donde, como judía, como mujer, como sobreviviente de Auschwitz y Bergen-Belsen, como Jurista y Primera Presidenta de la Comunidad Europea, descansará como símbolo a las futuras generaciones de lo mejor que Francia y que el judaísmo han producido.

En contra del fascismo, del populismo, del imperialismo, del sectarismo y el extremismo, la fortaleza de Simone Veil se levanta para defender el humanismo, el Tikun Olam entre todos los pueblos, las lenguas, las culturas en un abrazo de hermandad que demuestra que, en la unión está la fuerza de lo más positivo de la humanidad.

Hoy, cuando las fuerzas del populismo amenazan la resurrección de un fascismo activo, donde la confrontación entre grupos es usada para promover puestos políticos, las ideas, la dedicación, la fortaleza y el ejemplo de Simone brillan más que nunca.

A 75 años de las primeras deportaciones, cuando los gritos del salvajismo regresan a las calles y recrean las mismas condiciones para nuevos deportados; a 75 años del pacto de los fascismos y el cierre de fronteras que ‘garantizaron’ el asesinato de seis millones de judíos -si vemos los logros de los sobrevivientes habría que pensar cuanto perdimos todos con los que murieron- a 75 años de la creación de las brigadas internacionales todo parece repetirse casi al día.

Ojalá este reconocimiento de su vida en el aniversario de su cumpleaños sirva para recordarnos a todos que la lucha de hace 8 décadas no solo continua sino necesita ser reafirmada para evitar su repetición.

VEA LA CEREMONIA DE DEDICACIÓN de sus restos en el Panteón de los Héroes Franceses

Y escuche gracias a SaveThemusic.com la música, y los silencios que la acompañaron en el traslado a su morada final, música de la resistencia, de la sobrevivencia, música en francés, en yiddish, música para siempre judeo-francesa.

La marcha de los deportados (en francés Chant des Marais)

La marcha de los deportados fue escrita en 1933 por los primeros prisioneros de los campos de concentración nazis entre los que predominaban los socialistas judíos y no judíos, música judía de la resistencia.
Esta es la versión original de 1933 traída a Usted cortesía de savethemusic.com

Esta es una versión en inglés:

Bilingüe en la voz de Theodore Bikel

En alemán

Interpretada en Mauthausen por el Coro Internazionale el 10 de Mayo de 2015 en alemán, español, italiano, inglés, francés, Yiddish.

Eli, Eli – versión instrumental de canto religioso 

Kol-Nidrei – versión instrumental (a nuestros muertos)

Escuche nuestra colección de Kol Nidrei en SaveTheMusic.com

Pavane op. 50 de Gabriel Fauré 

L’Ode de la Joie de Beethoven (se convirtió en el himno de la Unión Europea)

Nuit et Brouillard (Noche y Niebla) de Jean Ferrat (compositor y cantante – Judío de Francia) 

Vocalise de Rachminoff 

Comme toi (elle s’appelait Sarah) de Jean-Jacques Goldman (compositor y cantante – Judío de Francia en memoria de su hermana asesinada por los nazis por ser lo que era : Judía 

El Cancionero Tradicional Judeo-Español – Eleonora Noga Alberti

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Estimados colegas y lectores:

Comparto con alegría un trabajo que ocupó más de la mitad de mi vida y que concluí hace algo más de veinte años, mi Tesis Doctoral.

Acabada, el 31 de marzo de 1997, defendida y aprobada el 16 de abril de 1998 ante el jurado formado por el Dr. Rodolfo Buzón, la Lic. Clara Cortazar y el Prof. Aquilino Suárez Pallasá. Me acompañaron en ese acto, mi familia, antiguos compañeros universitarios, colegas, amigos y profesores. El veredicto incluyó la recomendación de su publicación. Difícil de imprimir un escrito tan extenso.

La lectura de un artículo de la Dra. Silvina Luz Mansillam llevó a reflexionar sobre la necesidad de hacerla pública.

Al volver a hojearla noté las dificultades que entonces, también ahora, representa para un musicólogo -sin formación en filología o lingüística- la transcripción del judeoespañol. Lo mismo ocurre con la transliteración de las palabras del hebreo al alfabeto latino. He decidido mostrarla tal como ha sido aprobada. Una de las características que le dieron significado mayor a este estudio fue la de haber investigado el fenómeno de la tradición oral judeoespañola en el ámbito de la así llamada
diáspora secundaria sefardí.

La obra ha sido inscripta en la DNDA (Dirección Nacional de Derechos de Autor) de la República Argentina con el nº RE-2018-05959639-APN-DNDA#MJ del 6 de febrero de 2018. Toda mención, cita y/o texto o transcripción musical tomados de la misma deberán hacer figurar esta fuente y el nombre de la autora. Ojalá que el facilitar el acceso a estos materiales sirva de base y despierte nuevas inquietudes y búsquedas.

 

Gale Kissin sings “Mame Loshn”

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Few recordings so well selected, so clearly interpreted, and so significative as this one:

Gale Kissin sings Mama Loshn

15 songs that illustrate Jewish life and struggles through the last 300 years!

I was afraid that America would not be able to rescue the real soul of Yiddish Music both because of self-imposed censorship, simple ignorance, poor pronunciation and bad memory but Gale came as a breath of fresh air to prove me wrong, and just in time when others seem so apathetic to our culture and national memory she comes out of the blue with this selection

From popular songs such as Chanuke’s “Kleine Lichtalach” to “Venga Jaleo” straight out of the Spanish Civil war collection of Jewish fighters’ music this CD brings home the best in Jewish music for those who appreciate our history.

Songs of tradition, songs of children, mothers, women rights, love, history, a collage of everything you need to listen to travel through history.

We seldom mix books with records but this week we have two books and this CD to mix because together they will bring self-pride, culture and history right into your living room.

If possible you should read “Who will write our History” by Samuel Kassow, but above all you should read Twenty Years with the Jewish Labor Bund: A Memoir of Interwar Poland, By Bernard Goldstein, where so many of these songs come alive in their pages ranging from Yiddishe Mame to Venga Jaleo each song, each word in the CD links perfectly to the stories of self-defense, tikun olam and hope that encompassed Jews in the XX century.

Click here to Listen!

Gale Kissin sings Mama Loshn can be purchased in CD by sending an email to [email protected] or visiting the website mamaloshnmusic.org.
The cost is $15.00 with $5.00 being donated to the Jewish Community Free Clinic serving the uninsured and under insured folks in Sonoma County, CA. Payments by check and credit card are accepted.

The Bund Celebrates Its Past and Future in Melbourne

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װי אָפֿט װינטשט מען אַ קרובֿ אָדער אַ פֿרײַנד „ביז 120!”, און מע טראַכט נישט קײן סך דערפֿון? דער בונד-קאָמיטעט אין דער װײַטער מעלבורן, אױסטראַליע, האָט לאַנג געטראַכט װעגן דעם װי אַזױ צו פֿײַערן 120 יאָר זינט דרײַצן ייִדישע אַרבעטער און אינטעלעקטן האָבן אין 1897 זיך פֿאַרזאַמלט אינעם בױדעם פֿון אַ װילנער אײַנפֿאָר־הױז צו גרינדן דעם ייִדישן אַרבעטער־בונד פֿון רוסלאַנד, ליטע און פּױלן.

די בונדישע אָרגאָניזאַציע אין מעלבורן איז געגרינדעט געװאָרן אין 1928 פֿון חבֿר סענדער בורשטין. נאָך דער צװײטער װעלט־מלחמה איז זי אָפֿיציעל אַנערקענט געװאָרן פֿונעם אַלװעלטלעכן קאָאָרדיניר־קאָמיטעט פֿון בונד. לאָקאַלע בונדיסטן האָבן געשפּילט אַ װיכטיקע ראָלע בײַם גרינדן די אָרטיקע „פּרץ שול״ און דעם „שלום עליכם קאָלעדזש״, דעם ייִדישן הילפֿס־פֿאָנד און דעם קולטור־צענטער „קדימה”.

עליסאַ גריי זינגט דוד איידלשטאַדטס „אַרבעטער פֿרויען‟

DANIEL GOLDBERG
עליסאַ גריי זינגט דוד איידלשטאַדטס „אַרבעטער פֿרויען‟

די פֿײַערונג דאַרף, פֿאַרשטײט זיך, אָפּגעבן כּבֿוד די אויסערגעװײנטלעכע פֿאַרגאַנגענהײט פֿון דער אָרגאָניזאַציע — סײַ אין אײראָפּע סײַ אין אױסטראַליע. און די 120 יאָר נעמען אַרום אַ סך געשיכטע װאָס איז װערט מע זאָל זי דערמאָנען.

מיר האָבן אָבער אויך פֿאַרשטאַנען אַז די פֿײַערונג דאַרף װײַזן ווי די אָרגאָניזאַציע שפּילט הײַנט אַ ראָלע אינעם קאַמף פֿאַר גלײַך־באַרעכטיקונג פֿאַר מיטגלידער פֿון דער טראַנז־באַפֿעלקערונג, דעם קאַמף לטובֿת די פּליטים, פֿאַר פֿרױען־רעכט, פֿאַר פֿרײַהײט, גלײַכהײט און גערעכטיקײט, װי אױך פֿאַרן חשיבֿות פֿון דער ייִדישער שפּראַך און די רעכט פֿון װעלטלעכע ייִדן און װעלטלעכער ייִדישער דערציִונג אין דער ייִדישער קהילה.

און מען טאָר נישט פֿאַרגעסן די צוקונפֿט פֿון דער אָרגאָניזאַציע — די סקיפֿיסטן און זײערע העלפֿער (יוגנט־פֿירער)!

די העלפֿער (יוגנט־פֿירער) פֿון „סקיף‟

DANIEL GOLDBERG
די העלפֿער (יוגנט־פֿירער) פֿון „סקיף‟

האָט דער קאָמיטעט באַשלאָסן אַז די פֿײַערונג זאָל נישט נאָר באַשײַנען אײן נאָכמיטאָג, נאָר אַ גאַנץ יאָר. דער מעלבורנער בונד הײבט געװײנטלעך אָן זײַן קולטור־טעטיקײט אין מאַרץ, אַרום פּורים, װען דער מעלבורנער װעטער איז אַ גוטער און דער עולם איז נײַגעריק צו הערן װעלכע אַקטיװיטעטן װערן פּלאַנירט אױפֿן קומענדיקן יאָר.

פּונקט אין דער צײַט אָרדנט די בונדישע יוגנט־גרופּע סקיף געװײנטלעך אײַן אַן אײן־טאָגיקן פֿעסטיװאַל פֿאַר מעלבורנער ייִדן װאָס הײסט „אין אײן קול”, צוזאַמען מיטן ייִדישן קולטור־צענטער און ביבליאָטעק „קדימה”. שבת־צו־נאַכט קומט פֿאָר אַ קאָנצערט פֿון לאָקאַלע מוזיקער פֿאַר יוגנטלעכע, און זונטיק בײַ טאָג קומט פֿאָר אַ קאָנצערט און גאַסן־יריד פֿון ייִדישע אָרגאָניזאַציעס, קינסטלער און עסנװאַרג װאָס צילט צו פֿאַרװײַלן די גאַנצע משפּחה.

הײַ־יאָר האָט מען פֿאַרבעטן אױפֿן פֿעסטיװאַל די חבֿרים מוזיקער דניאל קאַהן און פּסאָי קאָראָלענקאָ. זײ האָבן אױפֿגעטראָטן און דערבײַ אָנגעהױבן די מעלבורנער פֿײַערונגען פֿון 120 יאָר בונד. אין איין לאָקאַל האָבן זיי פֿאָרגעשטעלט ייִדישע אַרבעטערלידער און אין אַ צווייטן — מערסטע אָריגינעלע לידער.

דודי רינגעלבלום און זײַן זון, הילל, רעציטירן חוה ראָזענפֿאַרבס ליד, „דער בונד און מײַן טאַטע‟

DANIEL GOLDBERG
דודי רינגעלבלום און זײַן זון, הילל, רעציטירן חוה ראָזענפֿאַרבס ליד, „דער בונד און מײַן טאַטע‟

דערצו האָבן זײ אָנגעפֿירט מיט אַ װאַרשטאַט ווי איבערצוזעצן אױף און פֿון ייִדיש פֿאַר די װעלכע אינטערעסירן זיך אין שרײַבן לידער. זײ האָבן באַזוכט די שלום עליכם פֿאָלקשול, האָבן מיטגעאַרבעט מיטן בונדס ייִדישן כאָר פֿאַר דערװאַקסענע אױפֿן נאָמען „מיר קומען אָן”. צו גיך זענען זיי אָבער אַװעק פֿון אױסטראַליע!

מעלבורן איז אױך דער יערלעכער גאַסטגעבער פֿון אַ פֿעסטיװאַל פֿון כּלהמינים ייִדישער מוזיק. אײנער פֿון די הײַיאָריקע געסט איז געװען די באַרימטע ניו־יאָרקער קאַפּעליע „קלעזמאַטיקס”. איר הױפּט־זינגער, לאָרען סקלאַמבערג, איז אױך דער דירעקטאָר פֿונעם קלאַנג־אַרכיװ בײַם ניו־יאָרקער ייִװאָ. אין מעלבורן האָט ער אָנגעפֿירט מיט אַ װאַרשטאַט װעגן ייִדישע אַרבעטער־לידער פֿאַרן בונד, װאָס ער האָט באַצירט מיט דוגמאות פֿונעם אַרכיװ און פֿון זײַן אײגענעם ברײטן רעפּערטואַר.

סוכּות — אַרום דער צײַט װען דער בונד איז געגרינדעט געװאָרן — איז פֿאָרגעקומען אַ יוביליי־אונטערנעמונג. עס זײַנען בײַגעװען פֿיר דורות מעלבורנער בונדיסטן אין עלטער פֿון 3 יאָר ביז 95 יאָר. די ייִנגסטע איז געבױרן געװאָרן אין מעלבורן און דער עלטסטער — אין לאָדזש. דער עולם איז געזעסן בײַ רױט־געדעקטע טישן און גלײַך בײַם אָנהײב האָט דער פֿאָרזיצער באַגריסט צװײ װעטעראַנען פֿונעם בונד אין מעלבורן, די חבֿרים יאָסל װינקלער און משה אײַזענבוד, װעלכע האָבן נישט געקענט בײַזײַן צוליב זײער טיפֿן עלטער און געזונט־צושטאַנד.

עס האָבן אױפֿגעטראָטן צװײ כאָרן — דער סקיף־כאָר און דער „מיר קומען אָן” כאָר — מיט ייִדישע אַרבעטער־לידער װי אױך לידער געשריבענע פֿון מעלבורנער בונדיסטן. די אײניקלעך פֿון די צװײ ערשטע סקיף־העלפֿער אין מעלבורן, די געװעזענע װאַרשעװער סקיפֿיסטן שׂמחה בורשטין און פּיניע רינגעלבלום, האָבן אָנטײלגענומען אינעם סקיף־כאָר.

לאָקאַלע ייִדישע אַקטיאָרן אין עלטער פֿון 10 יאָר ביז … [מע זאָגט נישט אױס װי אַלט] האָבן אויפֿגעטראָטן, סאָליסטן האָבן געזונגען און דניאל קאַהאַן און פּסאָי קאָראָלענקאָ האָבן צוגעשיקט אַ פֿילמירטע באַגריסונג אין װעלכן זײ האָבן געזונגען אַ דרײַ־שפּראַכיקע װערסיע פֿון ש. אַנסקיס „אין זאַלציקן ים”.

פֿריידי מראָצקי זינגט אַ ליד געשריבן פֿונעם מעלבורנער בונדיסט מאיר זייבל, „אַ פֿרײַנדלעכע האַנט‟

DANIEL GOLDBERG
פֿריידי מראָצקי זינגט אַ ליד געשריבן פֿונעם מעלבורנער בונדיסט מאיר זייבל, „אַ פֿרײַנדלעכע האַנט‟

מע האָט אויך געװיזן אַ טײל פֿון אַ פֿילמירטן אינטערװיו מיטן צו פֿרי געשטאָרבענעם חבֿר שמואליק „סלאָגאָ” סלוצקי, װאָס איז געװען אַ לאַנג־יאָריקער מיטגליד פֿונעם מעלבורנער בונד־קאָמיטעט. מע האָט אױסגעשפּילט חוה ראָזענפֿאַרבס פּאָעמע „דער בונד און מײַן טאַטע” און די טאָכטער און אײניקלעך פֿון חבֿרטע חיהטשע לערמאַן האָבן גערעדט, פֿילמירטערהײט, װעגן דער השפּעה אױף זײערע משפּחות פֿונעם װיגליד װאָס חיהטשע האָט געזונגען אינעם פֿילם „מיר קומען אָן” און װאָס דער ייִנגסטער דור, װאָס שטעלט פֿאָר אױף ייִדיש אונטערן נאָמען „די באַשעװיס־זינגערס”, האָט אַרײַנגענומען אין זײַן ערשטן קאָמפּאַקטל.

דאָס מעלבורנער קולטור־יאָר האָט זיך נאָך נישט געענדיקט און די פֿײַערונגען לכּבֿוד 120 יאָר ייִדישער אַרבעטער בונד גייען ווײַטער. אין חודש נאָװעמבער װעט פֿאָרקומען דער יערלעכער „באָנאָ װינער אָנדענק־רעפֿעראַט”. דער רעפֿערענט װעט זײַן דער באַקאַנטער אױסטראַלישער זשוריסט דזשוליען בערנסײַד, װאָס װעט רעדן װעגן דער לאַגע פֿון געפֿאַנגענע פּליטים װעמען די אױסטראַלישע רעגירונג לאָזט נישט אַרײַן אין לאַנד. דער פֿאָרזיצער פֿונעם אָװנט װעט זײַן דער אױסטראַלישער ראָמאַניסט און פּאָליטישער אַקטיװיסט אַרנאָלד זײבל, װאָס איז אױך אַ לאַנג־יאָריקער מיטגליד פֿונעם מעלבורנער בונד קאָמיטעט.

דערווײַל — זאָל לעבן דער בונד ביז 240!

http://yiddish.forward.com/articles/206670/the-bund-celebrates-its-past-and-future-in-melbour/

In myne shtetl de Moishe Oysher

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די וואָך ברענגען מיר אײַך דאָס ליד „אין מײַן שטעטל‟, אויך באַקאַנט ווי „בײַ דעם שטעטל‟, געזונגען פֿון לאָרין סקלאַמבערג אויפֿן קינדער־קאָמפּאַקטל „די גרינע קאַטשקע‟, אַרויסגעגעבן אין 1997 פֿון דער אָרגאַניזאַציע Living Traditions. דאָס ליד האָט אָנגעשריבן דער בעסאַראַבער שרײַבער זלמן ראָזענטאַל (1892 — 1959), וועלכער האָט אָפֿט צוגעגעבן פֿאָלקס־מעלאָדיעס צו זײַנע קינדער־לידער.

צווישן אַנדערע זינגערס האָט משה אוישער דאָס ליד רעקאָררירט אין די 1950ער יאָרן אין זײַן רומעניש־ייִדישן סטיל, וואַס האָט געפּאַסט פֿאַר דער מעלאָדיע. אוישער האָט אין דעם ליד צוגעגעבן דעם נאָמען פֿון זײַן אייגענער טאָכטער, פֿריידעלע, וועלכע איז אויך געוואָרן אַ באַקאַנטע זינגערין.

אין מײַן שטעטל

אין מײַן שטעטל שטייט אַ שטיבל
מיט אַ גרינעם דאַך,
און אַרום דעם שטיבל וואַקסן
ביימעלעך אַ סך.
און מײַן טאַטע מיט מײַן מאַמע,
פֿריידעלע מיט מיר,
שוין אַ לאַנגע צײַט מיר וווינען
דאָרטן אַלע פֿיר.

פֿאָרט מײַן טאַטע אויף ירידן
אַלע יאָרן זײַנע,
ברענגט דער טאַטע אונדז מתּנות,
שיינע זאַכן פֿײַנע.
ברענגט אַ לאָשיקל וואָס הירזשעט,
מיטן נאָמען מוציק,
און אַ הינטעלע וואָס האַווקעט,
מיטן נאָמען צוציק.

ברענגט אַ קאַטשקעלע וואָס געגעט,
קלאָר און ווײַס ווי שניי.
און אַ הון וואָס קוואָקעט, קוואָקעט,
ביז זי לייגט אַן איי.
און מײַן מאַמע נעמט די אייער,
אוי איז דאָס אַ מופֿת!
זעצט אַרויף די הון אויף זיי,
האָט זי קליינע עופֿות.

ברענגט אַ צאַפּ אַ שוואַרץ און חושך,
שאָקלט מיטן בערדל.
שפּאַנט מען אײַן דעם צאַפּ אין וועגל,
ווערט פֿון אים אַ פֿערדל.
און מײַן טאַטע מיט מײַן מאַמע,
פֿריידעלע מיט מיר,
שוין אַ לאַנגע צײַט מיר לעבן
גליקלעך, אַלע פֿיר!

Read more: http://blogs.yiddish.forward.com/oyneg-shabes/205525?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign&utm_term=Oyneg%20Shabes#ixzz4pNCBuBZR

Concentration Camp: The Eichmann Trial and the Origins of Punk Rock

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Donald Trump might Make Punk Great Again, but in America, it was traumatized, and defiant, Jews who made it
By Steven Lee Beeber

It’s 3 a.m. in The Blue Room and the audience is sweaty with joy.

The Modern Lovers’ high-strung leader, Jonathan Richman, has just left the stage, his Nice-Jewish-Boy songs about being “in love with the Old World” having been delivered in the manner of his musical hero, the Not-So-Nice Jewish founder of the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed. In his place now are two ethnic-looking guys, one short, staring at the crowd, the other tall, carrying the kind of cheap organ that comes with preset Salsa and Cha Cha beats. The audience stares back, expecting the usual rock foreplay, the twang-twang of tune-up, the “sibilance” of sound check.

Suddenly the short guy leaps offstage and approaches the audience. In one hand he holds a microphone. In the other a knife. The crowd pulls back, realizing that he also has a chain looped around his neck. There’s the sound of some menacing alarm going off, a two-note organ pattern, insistent.

“Argggh,” a woman cries, rushing for the exit.

But the knife-wielding maniac is blocking her way, threatening anyone who tries to leave. And he’s whispering into the mic, yelping, whispering again, desperate, as if he’s being tortured, some sick story-song, Frankie picked up a gun, pointed it at the six-month-old in the crib…”

It goes on for five, 10, 20 minutes, the boos starting to rise. Then another song, and another, the boos increasing. When it’s over, nobody applauds.

That was Suicide’s debut at New York’s Mercer Arts Center, 1973. Or as the singer with the knife, Alan Vega, described it nearly 40 years later, the aural equivalent of Treblinka.

***

When Vega died this past July, he finally got his applause. There was a eulogy from the Boss and an obit in the Times, the usual lines being trotted out—he was more influential than commercial, ahead of his peers, an uncompromising artist, a forebear of punk rock. An even greater outpouring of words had appeared just weeks earlier to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Ramones’ first album. If Vega was a forebear, the Ramones were the true article, a kind of Ur Punk band. The excitement around the revolution they kicked off reached a fever pitch in England, where the capital—officially declaring itself Punk London—hosted a series of museum exhibits, roundtables, and lectures, in the process igniting a debate over the appropriateness of institutionalizing a movement seemingly dedicated to anarchy. One punk heir even burned a $1 million worth of artifacts in protest, simultaneously giving the finger to both the city and the burgeoning punk-archive industry at Yale, NYU, the New York Public Library, and the British Library.

What is it about punk that continues to generate such interest? Decades on, where are the anniversaries for bubble gum, glam, or psychedelia? No, only punk stands out as truly worthy of our attention. Punk speaks to our times. But why?

Perhaps it has something to do with what’s been left out of the story. When those obits for Vega appeared, almost none mentioned that bit about Treblinka. Or the fact that Vega—born Boruch Alan Bermowitz—was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, that his father was a refugee of Hitler’s Europe, that he married a Holocaust survivor, considered fighting for Israel in the Yom Kippur War, name-checked Dachau in song, and mocked neo-Nazi skinheads, having his nose broken repeatedly for his efforts.

The same was true of those articles about the Ramones. Almost none noted that half the band’s members (Joey and Tommy) were Jewish, or that Tommy was a son of Holocaust survivors, or that the group came from the same Jewish middle-class neighborhood, Forest Hills, that gave us Simon and Garfunkel.

As with Vega, the articles about the Ramones emphasized the state of New York in the early ’70s, focusing on economic devastation and lack of hope. In doing so, they failed to see the city in its totality. For as no less an authority than Lenny Bruce—the punks’ favorite comic—put it, “It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic—if you’re living in New York, you’re Jewish.” This was especially true in the period during which the punks were coming of age, the 1950s and ’60s, when NYC was the most Jewish city in the world. With a population of Jews larger even than Tel Aviv, it’s not surprising that a Jewish attitude should have prevailed there. It was in the shrugs of the neighborhood deli, the one-liners of the street-corner smartass, the red-diaper-baby politics of cranky uncles.

In 1961, a shadow was cast over the city that touched everyone, but Jews especially, which explains not just why punk is still relevant but why it appeared in the first place. It was that year that ABC first aired a criminal trial in its entirety. The defendant was Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief engineers of Hitler’s so-called Final Solution. Every day throughout that spring, the grisly details of the Nazi genocide were broadcast into New Yorkers’ homes. Questioned by Israeli prosecutors, witnesses described the selections for the gas chambers, the experiments on twins, the starvations and beatings and plans to work inmates to death.

Up until that point, the horror that we now call the Holocaust had been little known. There’d been a seeming collusion of silence immediately following the war, a numbed inability to speak. Now, 16 years later, the gag was ripped off. Day after day, television viewers were subjected to a kind of nightmare soap opera, one in which people were turned into soap. If they were appalled, they were also riveted—especially those most loyal TV viewers, children. Among those children were future Jewish punk legends such as Jeffrey Hyman (Joey Ramone), Tamas Erdelyi (Tommy Ramone), Lenny Kaye (the Patti Smith Group), the Dictators (all Jewish), Chris Stein (Blondie), Lou Reed (Velvet Underground), and Martin “Reverby” Rev (Vega’s partner in Suicide). Along with them were their slightly older “siblings,” future proto-punk performers such as Vega, Genyusha Zelkowitz (Genya Ravan), and Tuli “Naphtali” Kupferberg (the Fugs). They in turn were joined by pivotal behind-the-scenes players such as Danny “Feinberg” Fields (manager of the Ramones, Iggy Pop, Jonathan Richman, etc.), Seymour Stein (founder of the record company that broke many of the bands), Hillel “Hilly” Kristal (owner of CBGB’s, the club where punk was born), Bob Gruen (one of the many Jewish photographers who chronicled the scene), and Sandy Pearlman (mastermind behind the Dictators, producer of the Clash, and one of the main architects of the new, mostly-Jewish-penned, rock writing that championed the music).

If the youngest viewers were raised in the cathode shadow of the Holocaust, the oldest came of age in it. Some like Genya were themselves Holocaust survivors, while others like Tommy and Vega were the children of survivors. Then there was Richard (Meyers) Hell, often credited with creating the punk look, who with his punk anthem “Blank Generation,” band The Voidoids, and “Please Kill Me” T-shirt, exhibited a nihilism and self-destruction more often associated with guilt-ridden survivors.

In a kind of parody of a then-popular bread commercial (“You don’t have to be Jewish to like Levy’s Rye”), there were also non-Jewish punk rockers who seemed to identify with the trauma. Iggy “Osterberg” Pop (then known as Iggy Stooge) had a father who’d been adopted by two Jewish sisters, and himself dated Jewish women almost exclusively. When one of these came to see an early show, he surprised her with what he thought would be a welcome addition to his performance, a piece he dubbed “The Murder of the Virgin,” in which his bassist, dressed in a Nazi uniform, whipped and stomped on his bloodied chest. Patti Smith, who co-founded her group with the Jewish music critic Lenny Kaye, opened both her early shows and her debut record intoning, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.” And John Holmstrom, co-founder of PUNK magazine, drew a comic in which the nihilistic Richard Hell did battle with “Nazi dykes.”

Still, in general, it was the Jews who were most affected by the Holocaust and who reacted by acting out. Lou Reed crooned of “dead bodies piled up in mounds” and the “ghost bloodied country … in the east.” Jonathan Richman wrote though never released a song comparing the trains from the Jewish suburb of Scarsdale to those heading for the death camps, and in concert introduced “Hospital”—about a girl suffering a nervous breakdown—as really being about the “Jewish American Princess concept.” Sandy Pearlman, who died less than a week after Vega, created both Blue Oyster Cult and the Dictators, in the former giving the albums names like Secret Treaties (a reference to an alleged conspiracy between American and German Jewish armament dealers to profit from WWII), and in the latter, despite the band’s protests, including the Henny Youngman-style studio chatter of lead singer Handsome Dick Manitoba (“With my vast financial holdings I could have been basking in the sun in Florida. This is just a hobby for me … ya hear?!”).

The post-Holocaust Jewish influence on punk could be felt too as it broke in England. Malcolm McLaren, who briefly managed the New York Dolls, took what he saw as the Jewish energy of New York and translated it into the Sex Pistols, particularly the Irish outsider Johnny Rotten (McLaren had wanted the Jews Richard Hell and Sylvain (Mizrachi) Sylvain instead). The Sex Pistols’ song “Belsen Was a Gas,” while in poor taste, could be read as an ironic send-up of the Nazis’ deadly seriousness, just as their bassist’s predilection for wearing swastika T-shirts could be viewed as the same, especially when one sees him doing so next to his Jewish-American girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. McLaren’s protégé, Bernie Rhodes, meanwhile, took his intense interest in leftist politics and used it to encourage Joe Strummer to stop writing pub rock and start creating “political songs” for the Clash—a band that initially not only sounded like the Ramones (see “White Riot”), but, like them, was half-Jewish (founding members Mick Jones and Keith Levene).

Is it any surprise that the kids who’d viewed the Eichmann trial created bands like the Dictators and Shrapnel, songs like “Master Race Rock” and “Blitzkrieg Bop,” and lyrics such as: “First rule is, the laws of Germany; second rule is, be nice to mommy; third rule is, don’t talk to Commies; fourth rule is, eat kosher salamis.” In her essay “Notes on Camp,” Susan Sontag proposes that Jews and gays react in unique ways to oppression: Jews with the weapon of “moral seriousness,” gays with the irony of “camp.” The Jews who made up the world of punk created a new sensibility—a kind of concentration camp. When Joey Ramone, in “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg,” attacked President Ronald Reagan for visiting a cemetery full of SS dead, he wasn’t just making a political statement; he was undercutting the deadly seriousness of the fascist enterprise. No wonder one of the biggest songs by the Dictators was “The Next Big Thing”—and not just because of the much-quoted brag “We knocked ’em dead in Dallas, they didn’t know we were Jews,” but even more so for the sentiments expressed in its opening lines: “I used to shiver in the wings, but then I was young. I used to shiver in the wings, then I found my own tongue.” Like Chris Stein of Blondie, who, according to lead singer Debbie Harry, collected Nazi memorabilia to show “the Jews had won,” the five Jews in the Dictators were taking back their lives from the silence. They were saying that they’d won, that they laughed in the face of their one-time oppressors.

Punk is a galvanizing force that rises in opposition to oppression and injustice. If it’s taken Trump and his administration’s accompanying anti-Semitism to remind us of punk’s importance, so be it. As The New York Times noted in a recent article about political resistance among poets, “The singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer roused the audience when she said President Trump might make punk rock great again.” After all, Palmer should know. Though the Times didn’t mention it, she’s most celebrated as the founder of an influential punk-cabaret duo from the early 2000s. Its name? The Dresden Dolls.

Yes, That’s Jewish Folk Music You’re Hearing—in Mexico

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The street performer ‘El Maestro’ grew up in a small town and is not Jewish, but spends his days entertaining tourists with traditional klezmer songs he learned on the Internet; ‘a small summary of all of life’

By ROBBIE WHELAN

On most days, weather permitting, Juan “El Maestro” Pérez packs up his clarinet and his accordion and descends to the city’s main plaza to play music for tips from tourists.

But El Maestro doesn’t look or sound like other street musicians here in Puebla—a Spanish colonial city known for its ornate pottery and dozens of churches—who mostly play mariachi guitars and sing romantic Mexican songs.

Instead, Mr. Pérez wears a long beard and dresses in the costume of a Hasidic Jew, complete with a wide-brimmed black hat, high-collared white dress shirt and a black cardigan. He quotes folksy Yiddish expressions and punctuates Romanian dance melodies by shouting “hey!” at key moments.

His band, El Colectivo Klezmorino, a rotating cast of friends and conservatory dropouts toting violins, a bass, percussion, brass and other instruments, all of whom he recruited and trained, is devoted exclusively to playing klezmer, the raucous, up-tempo Jewish folk music common to weddings and bar mitzvahs in the Yiddish-speaking shtetls of Eastern Europe in the early 20th century.

Mr. Pérez, 28 years old, isn’t Jewish, and neither is anyone else in the band. He grew up in Xicohtzinco, a tiny village in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala, he doesn’t speak Yiddish, he has never set foot in a synagogue and he has never traveled outside of Mexico. He spends his days playing Jewish folk music, and dressing the part, mainly because he loves it, he says, and because it was easy to learn.

“I feel like with klezmer, for me it’s not just the music, it’s a small summary of all of life,” he says. “Here in Mexico—not just Mexico, but in many countries—we believe that life isn’t just joy or sorrow. There are difficulties, but the happy and the sad exist at the same time in life.”

Mr. Pérez is coming to klezmer in a new-fashioned, 21st-century way: through the internet. He taught himself to play more than 60 klezmer pieces, such as “Goldenshteyn’s Bulgar” and “Lebedik un Freylach,” mainly by watching videos on YouTube.

Musically, Mr. Pérez is a strict traditionalist, and disdains modern klezmer bands that fuse Old World melodies with jazz, rock and Latin music.

He prefers old recordings of famous klezmer clarinetists from the 1920s, including Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras, Ukrainian Jews who emigrated to the U.S. Mr. Pérez describes learning each new klezmer melody as a process of purification, wherein he scours the internet for every recording of a piece he can find, and picks out elements that seem corrupted.

He listens to lectures on the history of the music and tries to find liner notes for old recordings. “You have to do your research, any way you can,” he says. For one piece, “Dance, Dance Yiddelekh,” he estimates he has listened to more than 200 versions, including fusions with Colombian folk music. The piece is now a regular in the band’s repertoire, and a crowd favorite.

At a recent performance near the central square in Puebla, Oswaldo Quiróz, an electrician from the state of Hidalgo, bobbed his head and clapped along with “Dance, Dance Yiddelekh” and other tunes. “This music, like mariachi, is full of happiness, but in our culture, mariachi is mainly for drinking,” he said. His best guess for what type of music he was listening to? Greek.

“I come from a village where customs are very strong. For me, ‘traditional,’ means artisanal—you don’t add anything to the original. You can’t improvise, you can’t embellish,” Mr. Pérez says. “If you find a good recording of the old guys playing, then you know you’re getting close to the traditional.”

José Gordon, a Jewish Mexican journalist who has written extensively on Jewish culture in Mexico, says it is “fascinating” that klezmer music could gain a following in Mexico outside of the Jewish community, especially given that it isn’t even very popular within it. He said Colectivo Klezmorino’s devotion to klezmer “speaks to the universality of the music.”

Ethnomusicologists say Mr. Pérez’s musical preferences are the result of paradigm shift in folk music brought about by the internet: now that so many people have access to folk culture, the definitions of words such as “traditional” and “authentic” have become hopelessly blurred.

“It used to be, if you wanted to hear traditional klezmer, you had to fly somewhere and listen to archival recordings on headphones,” says Mark Slobin, a Wesleyan University ethnomusicologist and author of “Fiddler on the Move,” a book about klezmer’s development in different countries. “Those archives have been digitized, and it’s all there for the taking.”

Klezmer refers broadly to a style of Jewish folk music played by traveling musicians at weddings and bar mitzvahs throughout Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Although there are records of itinerant Jewish minstrels going back to the 16th century, klezmer as we know it had its heyday from the late 19th century through World War II.

The music migrated to America in the first half of the 20th century, where it merged with jazz and influenced popular big-band leaders like Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. Since then, klezmer bands have popped up all over the world, from the U.K. to Argentina to Japan.

“To someone who is not familiar with it, klezmer has a very human feel to it,” says Joshua Horowitz, a klezmer scholar who has performed the music for over 30 years in various groups. “It represents this idea of the traveling-musician aesthetic.”

Henry Sapoznik, a banjo-player, radio producer and director of the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture at the University of Wisconsin, says he played at what he believes to be the first-ever bar mitzvah featuring live klezmer music in Mexico City in 1988.

“There was no such thing as a Mexican klezmer band back in those days,” Mr. Sapoznik says. The band was so popular that Mexico City’s Jewish community flew them back three more times over the next five years.

One of those gigs was the 1991 bar mitzvah celebration of Ricardo Fainsilber, 39, the grandson of Holocaust survivors and immigrants from Ukraine and Poland, who now works as a clinical psychologist in Mexico City.

“My parents wanted me to have a very traditional bar mitzvah,” Mr. Fainsilber says. “There were 300 or 400 people there, and everyone was jumping up and down and dancing. It was the main thing at this party, this great band from New York.”

But non-Jews playing klezmer in Mexico? “I’ve never seen anything like that,” Mr. Fainsilber says.

In recent years, a number of klezmer bands have played before audiences of thousands at large venues in Mexico, and at least one band—Klezmerson—has emerged combining klezmer with jazz, funk, rock and Mexican influences.

El Maestro, the street musician from Puebla, also sticks out from the other musicians because of his dress: black and white clothes, and a wide-brimmed hat that together distinctly recall the traditional dress of Hasidic Jews.

Mr. Pérez says his dress is a homage to klezmer musicians of old.

“I can see how it might bother or offend someone, but I don’t have any malicious intent,” he says. “I used to have clothes in lots of different colors, but as they got worn out, I just got rid of them.”

Theo Bikel: In his own (Yiddish words)

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The great actor, singer, and humanitarian Theo Bikel was a foremost champion for Yiddish and in particular for the California Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language (CIYCL) from its inception.  He generously lent his talents for ciycl’s benefit whenever he was asked and his presence lent a special gravitas to the many ciycl events that he attended.  He also remembered ciycl with a generous bequest, the only Yiddish organization in America to be so acknowledged.
Aside from this tribute page, we are honored to remember theo through one of his many skills, beautifully translating Yiddish poetry and song:  The newly named Theo Bikel Annual International Yiddish-Into-English Poetry Translation Contest.
There are films with and about Theo Bikel, books about him, and numerous recordings of his songs. However, available for the first time here (below) is an excerpted interview with Theo Bikel, entirely in Yiddish (subtitled in English). Take a brief (20-minute) journey with Theo through his life with Yiddish and its music. Listen as he discusses what the Yiddish language means to him and what he sees as its prospects for the future.
The entire (non-subtitled) interview is approximately 2 hours long and will be posted soon.

דער באַרימטער אַקטיאָר, זינגער, און הומאַניטאַריער טעאָ ביקל איז געװען אַ הויפּט טשעמפּיאָן פֿאַר ייִדיש און בפֿרט פֿאַר דעם קאַליפֿאָרניער אינסטיטוט פֿאַר ייִדישער קולטור און שפּראַך (ציקל) זינט דער גרינדונג. ער האָט ברייטהאַרציק געשאָנקען זײַנע טאַלענטן לטובֿת “ציקל” װען מ’האָט אים נאָר געבעטן און זײַן בײַזײַן האָט צוגעגעבן אַ ספּעציעלן ייִחוס צו די פֿאַרשיידענע “ציקל” אונטערנעמונגען צו װאָס ער איז געקומען אַלס גאַסט. ער האָט “ציקל” אויך געדענקט מיט אַן אָפֿענער האַנט בײַ דער צװאה, די איינציקע ייִדישע אינסטיטוציע אין אַמעריקע אַזוי אַנערקענט.

חוץ דעם כּבֿוד־װעב־זײַטל זײַנען מיר זוכה צו געדענקען טעאָן דורך איינע פֿון זײַנע פֿיל פֿעיִקייטן, דעם פּרעכטיקן איבערזעצן ייִדישע פּאָעזיע און לידער׃  דער נײַ-באַנאָמענטער
טעאָ ביקל יערלעכער אינטערנאַציאָנאַלער ייִדיש־אויף־ענגליש איבערזעצונגס קאָנקורס.

עס זײַנען דאָ פֿילמען מיט און װעגן טעאָ ביקלען, ביכער װעגן אים, און אַ היפּשע צאָל רעקאָרדירונגען פֿון זײַן געזאַנג. פֿונדעסטװעגן, דאָ צום ערשטן מאָל איז אַן עקסצערפּירטער אינטערװיו מיט טעאָ ביקלען, אין גאַנצן אויף ייִדיש (מיט ענגלישע אונטערטיטלען).  איר מעגט גיין אויף אַ קורצער (20-מינוט) נסיעה מיט טעאָן דורך זײַן לעבן מיט ייִדיש און איר מוזיק.  הערט זיך צו בשעת ער דערציילט װאָס די ייִדישע שפּראַך באַדײַט פֿאַר אים און װאָס ער זעט פֿאָראויס אַלס איר צוקונפֿט.

דער גאַנצער אינטערװיו פֿון 2 שעה װעט מען ארויפֿגעבן בקיצור.

This interview is one of many in the Yiddish Institute’s series:
Last Golden Links – Yiddish Treasures
For more about Last Golden Links Click Here.

Yiddish Song Translated by Theo Bikel

ZOL ZAYN (Could Be)
By I. Papernikov

Could be that my whole world is only confusion
Could be what I thought was God’s word isn’t true
Yet my dream is as bright as the brightest illusion
and the sky in my dreams is much bluer than blue.

Could be, that I’ll not see the fruit of my yearning
Could be that I’ll never be rid of my load,
What matters is not the end of the journey
It’s the journey itself on a bright sunlit road.

זאָל זײַן, אַז איך בױ אין דער לופֿט מײַנע שלעסער
זאָל זײַן, אַז מײַן גאָט איז אין גאַנצן ניטאָ
אין טרױם איז מיר העלער, אין טרױם איז מיר בעסער
אין חלום דער הימל איז בלױער פֿון בלאָ.

זאָל זײַן, אַז כ’װעל קײן מאָל צום ציל ניט דערלאַנגען
זאָל זײַן, אַז מײַן שיף װעט ניט קומען צום ברעג
מיר גײט ניט אין דעם, איך זאָל האָבן דערגאַנגען
מיר גײט נאָר אין גאַנג אױף אַ זוניקן װעג.

In Theo’s Words:  Theodore Bikel’s Address to the St. Louis Jewish Book Fair, October 2014  (Excerpt) 

Leon Wieseltier speech honoring Theo Bikel in receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from YIVO.
(A Universal Jewishness,  Reprinted in Tablet Magazine, June 18, 2015) .

Source: Yiddishinstitute.org

Why 2015 Was the Most Yiddish Year of All

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For a supposedly dead or dying language, Yiddish is not going down without a fight. In fact, we’re in the midst of a rich and creative revival such that the language and its culture hasn’t seen in decades. Yiddish Studies programs are cropping up at the unlikeliest of colleges and universities across the United States. The Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, which has rescued more than a million Yiddish books, is now focusing on digitizing them to make them available to anyone with an Internet connection; translating them for non-Yiddish readers; and educating a whole new generation of Yiddish speakers and scholars through its educational and fellowship programs.

Looking back over the past year alone, Yiddish made an impressive comeback. Some of the advances were academic and scholarly, others were innovative cultural efforts, and there were even some unexpected achievements in mainstream pop culture. Here’s a quick rundown of the Top 10 Yiddish moments of 2015:

  1. This past year saw the launch of “In geveb,” an online journal of Yiddish studies (ingeveb.org). With contents mostly in English, the journal features news and reviews of current Yiddish events, plus translations, and takes a multidisciplinary approach, including work by language scholars as well as submissions by those working in closely related fields including historians, sociologists, art historians and literary scholars. David Roskies of the Jewish Theological Seminary is senior adviser to the publication, whose title means “in web” and was inspired by a collection of poetry by Yehoyesh.
  2. In one of the most unlikely turns of events, black nationalist hip-hop group Public Enemy, which has been stained throughout its career by accusations of anti-Semitism thanks to Professor Griff, its so-called Minister of Information, released the album “Man Plans God Laughs,” recognizable to all in the know as a rendering of the popular Yiddish proverb Der mentsh trakht un got lakht.
  3. It’s hard to believe that until this year, New York City, with its high concentration of creative musicians, artists, filmmakers, scholars, theater folk and Yiddish-speaking audiences, lacked the sort of annual or biannual Yiddish cultural festival that are present in other major international cities such as Toronto and Krakow. This past June, the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, in collaboration with UJA-Federation of New York, presented the first KulturfestNYC, a week-long festival of concerts, plays, films, talks, tours, symposia, etc., spread out around the city — even at Central Park Summerstage — that spoke loudly and clearly to the vitality of contemporary Yiddish culture. Look forward to the second annual KulturfestNYC next June.
  4. Similarly, the core faculty of KlezKamp, which helped foster the klezmer and Yiddish revival for three decades and said its final farewell to the Catskills last December, wasn’t about to let a good thing die. Under the umbrella of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, most of KlezKamp’s music, Yiddish and art teachers have picked up right where they left off with the new Yiddish New York festival that debuted December 24 with the 14th St. Y and the Town and Village Synagogue serving as the center of activities.
  5. The New Yiddish Rep staged a Yiddish representation of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” In the tradition of the company’s critically acclaimed Yiddish version of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” from a few years back, the production of Miller’s had many theatergoers wondering if the play was unconsciously or otherwise written in secret code meant to be unlocked by translating it into the mameloshn (mother tongue).
  6. In another unlikely scenario, an elite squad of the Israeli Civilian K9 Unit’s security dogs has been taught to respond to Yiddish commands. The 60 dogs, mostly Belgian and Dutch shepherds imported from Europe for up to $10,000 each, were trained to be useful in search-and-rescue missions involving Yiddish-speaking religious Jews. The dogs are also less likely to be diverted by Arab terrorists, who are more likely to speak some Hebrew than any Yiddish.
  7. In October, the Forward reported on one of the most unusual fusion efforts in contemporary Yiddish culture — the first-ever Chinese-Yiddish song, written by a Shanghai Ph.D. student studying Jewish exile in Shanghai resulting from the Shoah.
  8. In another probable first, a president of the United States spoke Yiddish at a public event. While awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Barbra Streisand, Barack Obama noted her “chutzpah” and said he was “getting all verklempt just thinking about it.” Get ahold of yourself, Mr. President. It’s just Babs.
  9. The National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene staged “Di Goldene Kale” (“The Golden Bride”) as its first production in the company’s new home at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The 1923 Joseph Rumshinsky operetta, last performed in 1948, offers a hint of the revival of New York’s famed Second Avenue, what many consider to be the precursor to the Broadway musical
  10. Finally, the biggest Yiddish story of the year can be summarized in two words: Bernie Sanders.

Author: Seth Rogovoy frequently writes about contemporary culture for the Forward.

Source: http://forward.com/culture/327826/why-2016-was-the-most-yiddish-year-of-all/#ixzz3xd8BMFUM

Listeners Uncover Details About Mysterious Muse Behind ‘The Brothers Nazaroff’

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Listeners Uncover Details About Mysterious Muse Behind ‘The Brothers Nazaroff’

As a result of Jon Kalish’s piece last Saturday on the obscure Yiddish musician known as Prince Nazaroff, a relative and a genealogist have stepped forward to provide more details about the man.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Last Saturday, we heard a story about the band The Brothers Nazaroff and their namesake, an early 20th century musician who was known as Prince Nazaroff, of whom little was known, except maybe that he probably wasn’t the member of any royal family. Our story ended this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

DANIEL KAHN: He was buried in countless bargain record crates at the back room of many used record stores. That’s the only grave of his that we know of.

SIMON: Well, thanks to that story, we now know that Prince Nazaroff is buried in New Jersey, and we learned more about his life, too. Listeners got in touch with reporter Jon Kalish.

JON KALISH, BYLINE: Eric Adler is an amateur genealogist in Washington, D.C. After hearing the story, he did some digging and learned that the man who performed as Prince Nazaroff was born Abraham Agronowitz.

ERIC ADLER: The very first record that appears is his immigration record in 1913. And he appears on that as Agronowitz. He also appears in 1917 on the World Ward I draft registration as Abraham Agronowitz.

KALISH: He actually came to America earlier than 1913, says one of three grandchildren who are still alive. Eric Kaufman says that his grandfather was jailed as a teenager in Russia and released after her agreed to serve in the czar’s army.

ERIC KAUFMAN: He joined the army, and like a Max Sennett comedy, got on one side of the train, got off the other side of the train and kept on running. He eventually tied up with this dance troupe.

KALISH: Then it was on to a traveling theater troupe where he met his wife. Again, genealogist Eric Adler.

ADLER: They married over there and he came to the U.S. first, about a year later. And then she and their daughter came a year after that.

KALISH: The wife was listed as Malka Agronovitch, as the family pronounces it, on her naturalization application. The daughter she brought with her eventually had three children – Eric Kaufman, another son named Adam and a daughter named Andrea, who was close to her grandfather.

ANDREA KAUFMAN: I remember him as a sweetheart.

(SOUNDBITE OF NATHAN NAZAROFF SONG)

KALISH: She called him poppy, and she says his hands were always calloused from playing guitars and mandolins.

(SOUNDBITE OF NATHAN NAZAROFF SONG)

NATHAN NAZAROFF: (Singing in Yiddish).

KALISH: But Prince Nazaroff’s career faltered, and he worked odd jobs, one of them at the Bronx Zoo, which was across the street from the family’s apartment building.

ANDREA KAUFMAN: I got to see the elephants, and it was fun.

KALISH: The grandchildren all remember Prince Nazaroff as a great whistler, and Eric Kaufman can still imitate him.

ERIC KAUFMAN: (Whistling). He would signal. When he was in the neighborhood, you could hear him a half a block away. That was his particular signature tune.

KALISH: Kaufman’s granddaughter was dancing along to Prince Nazaroff’s music on the radio last weekend and her mom perked up. When she realized what the story was about, she alerted the family.

ANDREA KAUFMAN: I am grateful for the spirit of the music being transmitted.

KALISH: Nazaroff’s granddaughter, Andrea Kaufman.

ANDREA KAUFMAN: He was an embodiment of the music that he made and his community, and to know that others are picking up his spirit and the energy of joy that came through makes me very happy.

KALISH: And there may be more to come. Smithsonian Folkways has an album’s worth of unreleased material the prince recorded in 1961.

For NPR News, I’m Jon Kalish in New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF NATHAN NAZAROFF SONG)

NAZAROFF: (Singing in Yiddish).

 

PLEASE, READ:

60 Years Later, A Wild, Baffling Recording Finds A Modern Spark
http://www.npr.org/2016/01/09/462434745/60-years-later-a-wild-baffling-recording-finds-a-modern-spark

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