Since 2005, the New Worlds Theatre Project has been presenting classic Yiddish drama in English translation. This season they’re presenting a new English translation of H. Leivick’s 1921 play “Shmates,” here called “Welcome to America,” a naturalistic drama about the corrosive effects of American capitalism on a traditional Jewish immigrant family.
On May 15, Speakers’ Lab and the Forward will present a moderated town hall-style event called “Now What? The Future of New Jewish Culture” at the 14th Street Y in downtown New York City. In preparation for the event, each panelist was asked to respond to a question related to his or her work. The Forward will publish one panelist’s response every Tuesday leading up to the event, and a second panelist’s response will be published on Speakers’ Lab’s website that same day.
The Dibbuk Box
By Jason Haxton
Truman State University Press, 192 pages, $19.95
Shaman-journalist is still a microniche compared to singer-songwriter. That may explain why Psoy Korolenko is something of an enigma to English-speaking audiences.
“Jews on Vinyl,” an unusual museum exhibit focused on the recent Jewish past, has arrived at the Yeshiva University Museum after touring the West Coast for two years. The exhibit is a project of the Reboot Stereophonic non-profit record label, and is based on the 2008 book “And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost,” a glossy collection of over 500 vintage record covers collected over 15 years by guest curators (and Stereophonic Reboot founders) Josh Kun and Roger Bennett.
Trish McCall, Dan Bielinski and Marcus Naylor in ‘Under the Cross.’ Photo by Louis Zweibel.
Is Broadway ready for dancing girls in the Warsaw ghetto? Can an American musical high kick through the darkest moments of Jewish history and still avoid giving offense, or worse, falling into kitsch?
There’s a new sound in Jewish music. It’s coming from young musicians with one foot in Brooklyn and the other on klezmer’s silk road through Europe: Paris, Berlin, Krakow, Budapest and points east. These musicians have bands with cheeky names, like Yiddish Princess and Electric Simcha, and they’ve come of age in a cultural landscape utterly transformed by the past 35 years of what is usually called the “klezmer revival.”
The Central Yiddish Culture Organization (CYCO), a Manhattan based non-for-profit outfit dedicated to the promotion and development of Yiddish literature, is in trouble. CYCO, and its inventory of 55,000 Yiddish books is being kicked out of its current home. Given that the income from book sales could not possibly pay market rent on a new space, it looks like the last bookstore in Manhattan dedicated to Yiddish language and (mostly) secular literature is in need of a miracle. CYCO has already seen one miracle of sorts — a write up of their crisis in the New York Times, here.
In 1979, when Henry Sapoznik founded the klezmer band Kapelye, he was among a cohort of passionate young musicians, musicologists and cultural workers who sought to reclaim Eastern European Jewish music and link themselves to still-living masters of that tradition. It was hard work. Relatively little had been done to preserve or transmit the culture of Eastern European Jewish immigrants in America.