Yiddish New York December 23rd – December 28, 2017

Saturday, December 23 – Thursday, December 28, 2017

Klezmer Music – Yiddish Song – Yiddish Dance – Theater – Yiddish Language – Yiddish Culture and History – Visual Arts – Master classes – Ensembles – Lectures – Films – Neighborhood Walking Tours – Special Programs for Kids & Teens and More!


Each day, YNY will create a hub of programming at the 14th Street Y and the adjacent Town and Village Synagogue. Daily programs feature workshops by internationally-renowned performers and lectures by leading contemporary scholars. Both facilities are accessible to people using mobility aids.*

Klezmer Instrumental Instruction:

YNY’s world-class instrumental klezmer faculty is focused on teaching musicians of all ages and abilities. This year we are excited to feature the amazing Berkeley, California supergroup Veretski Pass, as well as Grammy-winning trumpeter Frank London (The Klezmatics), violinist Deborah Strauss and an all-star cast:

  • Violin (Deborah Strauss, Cookie Segelstein, Zoe Aqua and Adam Moss)
  • Clarinet (Michael Winograd and Zilien Biret)
  • Brass – Trumpet, Trombone, Tuba, etc. (Frank London, Dan Blacksberg and Eva Boodman)
  • Accordion (Josh Horowitz and Hannah Temple)
  • Drums/Percussion (David Licht)
  • Piano (Josh Horowitz, Eleonore Weill and Michael Winograd)
  • Bass (Stuart Brotman)
  • Recorder/Romanian Flutes (Eleonore Weill)
  • 5-String Banjo (Pete Rushefsky)
  • Hurdy-gurdy (Eleonore Weill)
  • Tsimbl/Hammered Dulcimer (Pete Rushefsky)
  • This year we are pleased to introduce special clinics with Adrianne Greenbaum (flute) and Cantor Jeff Warschauer (guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo)
  • Student Ensembles – an array of faculty-led ensembles will focus on everything from traditional repertoire to contemporary improvisation!

Yiddish Song – classes focus on building repertoire (traditional and contemporary), vocal technique, language/dialect, individual/group performance, and having fun! (Joanne Borts, Itzik Gottesman, Shura Lipovsky, Ethel Raim, Joyce Rosenzweig, and Josh Waletzky)

We are grateful to the Covenant Foundation for their support of YNY’s Yiddish Music Workshops!

Yiddish Dance – workshops for dancers of all levels teach the steps to quintessential Jewish dances such as sher, freylekhs, bulgar, honga, hora, Hasidic dances, as well as co-territorial Ukrainian, Hungarian, Polish and Romanian dances. Classes will additionally provide a grounding in traditional gestural language during workshops accompanied by live music. (Jill Gellerman, Deborah Strauss and Zev Feldman)

Yiddish Theater – Classes focus on the foundational aspects of creating and performing Yiddish theater in a contemporary, predominantly non-Yiddish speaking world: acting, writing, translating, singing, and the role of historical and linguistic context. Faculty will be announced shortly!

Yiddish Language – Classes targeted to beginning, intermediate and advanced students of Yiddish (Nikolai “Kolya” Borodulin and Miriam Isaacs). Sponsored by the Workmen’s Circle.

Lectures and Special Workshops:

  • The Story of Yiddish as Told at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish JewsWorld-renowned Yiddish folklore scholar Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett returns to New York to talk about her celebrated work in developing the innovative multi-media permanent exhibits of the new POLIN Jewish Museum in Warsaw.
  • Painted Memories – A Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust: Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett presents the artwork and stories of her father, Meyer Kirshenblatt, born in Opatów, Poland (Apt in Yiddish) in 1916. Meyer left a remarkable record in both words and images of Jewish life in Poland before the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of an inquisitive boy. The program will include a film about Meyer’s return to Opatów, and explore how the town received him.
  • Legends & Tales  – Four-part series surveying Jewish folklore in written sources– including popular folktales, classic legends, folk songs, jokes and poetry– to examine how these publications capture evolutions of meaning and reflect wider dynamics in Yiddish society. Presented by acclaimed folklorist Itzik Gottesman (U. Texas-Austin), editor of the popular Yiddish Song of the Week blog.
  • Power of the Pen: A Poetry Writing Workshop – a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, celebrated poet Irena Klepfisz’s (the 2016 Adrienne Cooper Dreaming in Yiddish Awardee) inspiring work is infused with activism and calls for social justice. Whether you’re an active poet, or want to take your first try at composing verse, join Klepfisz for a special three-part writing workshop.
  • Dairy Restaurants & Yiddish on the Lower East Side – renowned cartoonist, MacArthur Fellow and Lower East Side denizen Ben Katchor presents an entertaining history of kosher dairy restaurants as the focal point for a wider examination of Yiddish culture on the Lower East Side.
  • Wexology: A series of talks filled with musings on Yiddish language and culture by the brilliant Montreal-based Yiddish humorist Michael Wex (author of the NY Times best-seller Born to Kvetch and Rhapsody in Schmaltz)
  • Klezmer: Music, History, and Memory – Pioneering klezmer scholar and musician Walter Zev Feldman (NYU) presents a series of talks based on his new book Klezmer: Music, History, and Memory (Oxford University Press), the first comprehensive study of klezmer’s musical structure and social history.
  • Yiddish Songs in South America – São Paolo-based singer Nicole Borger, founder of Brazil’s Kleztival, leads a program combining a lecture, performance and film that explores the rich history of Yiddish in South America and the unique canon of Yiddish songs which has developed there.
  • In Der Nayer Velt – Thoughts on Contemporary Yiddish Culture – a special lecture on Yiddish in contemporary life and its dynamic intersections with wider streams of American culture by Rokhl Kafrissen. (Tablet Magazine)
  • Tenement Songs – a lecture by ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin (Wesleyan) on the songs of Jewish immigrants to the Lower East Side, performed in tenement homes, in Vaudeville theaters and beer gardens, offering witty and poignant takes on social, political and religious identity, worker’s rights, gender relations and familial structures.
  • Ruth Rubin: Saving Yiddish Song – Eleonore Biezunski of the YIVO Institute Sound Archive presents on an exciting new project to disseminate the rare field recordings of legendary Yiddish song collector Ruth Rubin.
  • A History of the Yiddish Language (in Yiddish) – series investigating the 1000-year development of the Yiddish language presented by scholar Dovid Braun (sponsored by the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center).
  • Yiddish Sex! – Noah Barrera presents on Yiddish writings about sex, including a trove of risqué stories from the YIVO archive.
  • Nature Walk (in Yiddish) led by Itzik Gottesman.
  • And much more – stay tuned as we announce additional programs!

Lunchtime Film Series – Award-winning director Josh Waletzky curates a wonderful series of lunchtime films each day in the 14th Street Y’s theater– films are followed by a Question & Answer session. Bring a brown bag lunch or takeout from a nearby restaurant, sit and enjoy!

Creative Activism – Back by popular demand, this hands-on workshop will frame responses to national political and cultural divisions and create a place at YNY for art as activism. The purpose of this workshop is to make our activism more creative, and our art more socially engaged—raising the effectiveness of both. Facilitated by Jenny Levison of the national racial justice organization Race Forward and the New York City organization Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

Teen and Kids’ Programs – Special arts-based learning programs for Kids age 2-12 and Teens based at the 14th Street Y’s child-friendly playrooms with YNY’s experienced faculty led by Sarah Gordon, Rabbi Avram Mlotek and OBIE-award winning theater artist Jenny Romaine.

Shmooze, Shpil un Zing! – On our final day, Thursday, December 28, YNY will not hold formal instrumental, vocal, dance or theater classes, but instead create a relaxed atmosphere where registrants can self-direct into activities of their choice – jam sessions with faculty members, one-on-one master classes, group singing, group discussions, and plenty of time to shmooze. We’ll cap the day (and the festival) with the student concert.

*The 14th Street Y and Town and Village Synagogue are physically accessible to people who use mobility aids. The synagogue’s social hall and chapel are at street level, while the sanctuary and 2nd floor Kleiman classroom are accessible via a chair lift.

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