An Animated Affair

On the Go

By Masha Leon

Published February 09, 2012, issue of February 17, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Sisters Reyna and Temma Schaechter Sing Yiddish Songs of Yesteryear

Binyumen Schaechter warned me about the January 22 DVD launch of “When Our Bubbas and Zeydas Were Young — The Schaechter Sisters on Stage”: “Even though you’ve got reserved seats, you’d better get there early; the performance is oversold!” The film stars his daughters, Reyna Schaechter and Temma Schaechter. When I arrived at the Center for Jewish History an hour early, the line was already daunting. After the screening, the sisters (now respectively 17 and 12, two years older than when the live program was filmed) were joined by the film’s producer-director, Josh Waletzky, and by their father, who is also the program’s director and pianist, in a roundtable overview moderated by Eric Goldman, founder and president of Ergo Media, the film’s distributor.

In the film, the sisters — often in costume — act out each song in an animated, comedic or serious mode. Schaechter, conductor of the acclaimed all-Yiddish 40-voice Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus, accompanies his daughters at the piano and introduces each song, explaining its context. Composers and writers whose work is featured include Michl Gelbart, Mordecai Gebirtig, Itsik Manger and Avrom Reisin.

“These are songs about the shtetl… there is a heritage and language connection,” Goldman observed, and yet he wanted to know how particular pieces were selected for the program. Schaechter responded: “I focused on Yiddish songs that have characters in them — children, teens, parents, rabbis… songs that were good for my daughters and yet have relevance today.” Temma piped in: “My dad know what’s good for us. [He picks] songs that fit our talent. Our dad is one of the most talented musicians, [who] can do things in Yiddish that are amazing!” Reyna added: “Yiddish is the language in our family. My dad’s parents have 16 Yiddish-speaking grandchildren.” Waletzky mused, “Some of the songs don’t get the respect they deserve.”

The 18 songs on the program included “Kartofl-zup Mit Shvamen” (“Potato Soup With Mushrooms”), “Ot Geyt Yankele”(“There Goes Yankele”), “Kum Leybke, Tantsn” (“Come, Dance Leybke — No Matter If You Are a Zionist or Socialist”), “Afn Veg Shteyt a Boym” (“A Tree Stands on the Road”).

If you missed the concert, get the DVD and send a copy to your children and grandchildren. What a delicious introduction to Yiddish and Yiddish song!

Animation Program the Focus of Friends of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Gala

“It’s been a great year for Bezalel across the globe, with exhibitions in London, Venice, Paris and Israel,” declared Ilan Kaufthal, chairman of the Friends of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, at a January 24 gala. The event honored Albert Hanan Kaminski, a senior lecturer in the school’s animation department. An inaugural Blanche and Romie Shapiro Award for Outstanding Service to Bezalel was presented to Sivia Loria, vice president of the Friends of Bezalel board of directors. Blanche and Romie Shapiro, who founded Friends of Bezalel more than 30 years ago, are both 102.

Wise Teacher: Albert Hanan Kaminski
Karen Leon
Wise Teacher: Albert Hanan Kaminski

Kaminski, whose 1995 film “The Real Shlemiel” won the Grand Prix of the Augsburg Children’s Film Festival, said: “We never dreamed our students would win 100 national and international awards for their films!” Before dinner, Kaminski told me that he was born in Belgium and immigrated to Israel at 20. “My father was born in Moshlowa near Kielce, Poland, and went to France in 1937,” he said. “He fought in the French army, became a POW for five years in Germany and ended up being liberated by the Russians.”

Kaufthal welcomed Bezalel graduates Yael Alkaley and Ronit Levin Delgado, commenting that they are “the first arts graduates from Israel who have been chosen for the Fulbright Fellow Masters program — a great honor for you individually and for the academy.” We then watched a montage of films by Bezalel students, including “Howl,” a hand-drawn short by Natalie Bettelheim and Sharon Michaeli that was showcased at the January 10 pre-festival opening night of the New York Jewish Film Festival.

Kaufthal announced: “At home in Jerusalem, by 2012 we can be in a position to put a shovel in the ground for our new home in the center of the city. Such a move will revitalize the city as none has done in recent years.” Acknowledging New York City’s Pratt Institute president, Thomas Schutte, in the crowd, Kaufthal said, “We’re delighted that you’re here, and we hope Bezalel and Pratt can collaborate on many creative endeavors in future years.”

At dinner, each guest was provided with a boxful of multicolored clay sticks. Rony Oren, a Bezalel senior animation lecturer, taught the black-tie crowd to create a purple penguin claymation character.

Among the honored guests at the gala were Ido Aharoni, Israel’s consul general; Anat Gilad, consul for cultural affairs; Zvi Barak, Bezalel Academy’s chairman of the board, and Bezalel Academy President Arnon Zuckerman.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.