Yiddish New York’s faculty and speakers include some of the most prominent cultural leaders in today’s Yiddish world! Confirmed faculty/speakers/featured performers to date are below. Check back soon as we update the faculty list.
2017 Faculty & Featured Performers:
Aaron Alexander (percussion) – One of the leading drummers on the contemporary klezmer scene and the founder and curator of the weekly New York Klezmer Series, Alexander has toured internationally with The Klezmatics, the Klezmer Brass-All Stars, Hasidic New Wave, Kleztraphobix, Klezmer Fest and his own Midrash Mish Mosh project of original avant-garde klezmer which recorded for John Zorn’s Tzadik label. His latest project is the Klez Messengers with accordionist Patrick Farrell and clarinetist Michael Winograd, which recreates the sound of Dave Tarras’s mid-20th century trios.
Zoe Aqua* (violin) is a performer, teacher and composer living in Brooklyn, New York. Quickly becoming an in-demand violinist in the klezmer scene, she is a founder of Tsibele, an all-women klezmer quartet. In 2015 she joined Litvakus, a New York based critically acclaimed klezmer collective. She was featured in the Broadway production of Paula Vogel/Rebbeca Taichman’s Indecent (with musical direction by Lisa Gutkin of the Klezmatics). Her extreme versatility allows her to get instantly comfortable in a variety of genres. Among her other groups, Aqua can be seen playing with the Ternovka Ensemble, Pete Rushefsky, Fraydele, Ensemble XTerranica, and The Blue Dahlia. Aqua is an experienced pedagogue, teaching general music and violin at Family Life Academy Charter School II, located in the South Bronx. She has also taught well-received workshops for adult musicians through the New York Klezmer Series.
Shane Baker (theater) is the best-loved Episcopalian on the Yiddish stage today. With the Congress for Jewish Culture, he has performed, lectured, and given classes in Yiddish theater the world over; and tours with his critically acclaimed one-man show The Big Bupkis: A Complete Gentile’s Guide to Yiddish Vaudeville. With the New Yiddish Rep, he has played Yankl in God of Vengeance, and Vladimir in his own Yiddish translation of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot for the play’s Yiddish world premiere, two Off-Broadway runs, and tours to Enniskillen, Northern Ireland and Paris, France.
Noah Barrera is a professional Yiddish translator who is currently working on an academic translation of Abraham Rechtman’s ethnographic memoirs of the An-sky expedition. Mr. Barrera is also an established Yiddish journalist. Many of his Yiddish-language articles have appeared both in print and online in the Yiddish Daily Forward and Afn Shvel. His articles focus on a range of topics spanning from ethnography, Yiddish theater and Hasidim, to the Jewish LGBT community.
Eléonore Biezunski (folklore/violin/vocals) grew up in a Yiddish speaking family in Paris. She has performed in Europe and the United States with her bands, including the Klezmographers with Pete Rushefsky (tsimbl) and the Shtetl Stompers with Ilan Moss (accordion) and Joanna Sternberg (double bass) in New York. She released an album in 2016 with her band Yerushe under the label of the Institut Européen des Musiques Juives, consisting of Yiddish songs and klezmer music from various folklore collections, including the Ruth Rubin archives held at YIVO. Her band Shpilkes based in Paris, released the album Zol zayn in 2014. She also appears in the New York Fidl Kapelye. She has performed as a trio with Patrick Farrell (accordion) and Jordan Morton (double-bass), and with the project Lib’Ele with Eleonore Weill (recorders) and Pete Rushefsky (tsimbl). Biezunski additionally serves as a Sound Archivist at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York. She is a 2017 recipient of a New York State Council on the Arts’ Folk Arts Apprenticeship (for the study of Yiddish Folksongs with Josh Waletzky) through the Center for Traditional Music and Dance.
Zilien Biret (clarinet, flute) has gained notoriety as a leading Yiddish dance musician, working with dance leaders such as Zev Feldman, Avia Moore, and Steve Weintraub. He has performed at a number of major festivals including KlezKanada, Ashkenaz Festival, Boston Jewish Music Festival, Montréal Jewish Festival, Yiddish New York and Yiddish Summer Weimar. Zilien has studied clarinet with Andy Statman (Brooklyn, NY), Jorge Garcia (Colombia), Christian Dawid (Germany), and Joel Rubin (USA). He also studied Mandinka music in West Africa, Maloya music in Reunion Island, and Afro-Colombian music in Colombia. He has performed in South America, North America, Canada, Europe, Réunion Island, and West Africa with his klezmer music band Ichka (Montreal), Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird (Berlin), Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra (Montreal), Zazakel (Reunion), Mota Soa (Madagascar), and Cie de la Calebasse (Paris). He regularly performs as a trio with Zev Feldman (tsimbl) and Christina Crowder (accordion)
Dan Blacksberg** (trombone) – A scion of the Brandwein klezmer dynasty and recipient of a prestigious Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Blacksberg performs with a wide range of musicians from avant-garde jazz composers Anthony Braxton and Joe Morris to Frank London and Alan Bern’s Romani/Jewish Other Europeans project. Based in Philadelphia, Blacksberg additionally has been performing with his innovative project Deveykus, a Hasidic doom metal ensemble.
Rabbi Aviad Bodner (religion/spirituality)– Born in Israel, Bodner became Rabbi of the Stanton Street Shul in November 2014. He previously worked as a corporate lawyer while serving as rabbi for Moishe House in Tel Aviv, Israel. At Moishe House, he provided halakhic advice, led Torah classes and learning groups, and helped build an inclusive, pluralistic community for olim and native Israelis. Rabbi Bodner received semicha from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and an LLB from Bar-Ilan University. Following the traditions established by his rabbinic predecessors at the shul, Rabbi Bodner is committed to ensuring that the Stanton Street Shul continues to develop as an inclusive center for spiritual growth with prayer, chesed, social activities, classes and learning opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Eva Boodman* (trumpet) is a founding member of the all-women’s klezmer band Tsibele. A long time scholarship recipient of the KlezKanada festival, Boodman is additionally a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Stony Brook University, working on ethics, social and political philosophy, feminist philosophy, decolonial philosophy, and the philosophy of race. She is additionally a Fellow at Humanities New York, where she is working on curricula to be taught at the women’s jail on Rikers Island.
Nicole and Edy Borger** (vocals, coordinators) – A São Paulo-based chanteuse, Nicole Borger creates fresh interpretations of Yiddish song classics, setting them to a kaleidoscope of Brazilian musical styles. Her most recent album, “Raízes/Roots – A Recording of Jewish Songs Reinvented With a Brazilian Sound,” was produced by Frank London. Along with her husband Edy, Nicole founded and directs the Kleztival, an international klezmer festival in São Paolo, as well as the Instituto da Música Judaica Brasil. South America’s largest annual Yiddish cultural festival, the Kleztival is in its eighth year. Nicole’s family background includes Russian, German, American, and Portuguese Jewish roots, and she studied composition at São Paulo´s Santa Marcelina University. When not performing, Nicole works as a practicing attorney in São Paulo, and visits the US frequently.
Kolya (aka Nikolai) Borodulin is the master teacher and Director of Yiddish programming at the Workmen’s Circle in New York, the largest Yiddish language program in the United States. He teaches Yiddish language and culture to multigenerational audiences: kids, teens, and adults (sometimes four generations together), nationally and internationally, and is credited with giving hundreds of Yiddishists their foundation in the language. His dynamic style has garnered a growing fan base across the United States and beyond. He is the organizer of the Trip to Yiddishland program (Circle Lodge, Hopewell Junction, New York) and Yiddish programming coordinator at KlezKanada. Kolya developed and is currently running live, online Yiddish classes at the Workmen’s Circle for students from all over the world. He is also teaching at Yiddish Book Center Yiddish School. Borodulin is the author of Yiddish Year Round: A Curriculum for the Young Beginners and a number of Yiddish educational materials for children.
Joanne Borts (vocals, theater) is a beloved Yiddish actress and cabaret singer, well-known for her work with the Folksbiene National Yiddish Theater. Borts recently finished a long run with the Tony-winning Broadway production of Once. Her Broadway debut was with Fiddler on the Roof in 1991. Borts taught for many years at KlezKamp and KlezKanada, and directs the Folksbiene’s acclaimed program Kids in Yiddish. She has been featured on a number of recordings including the Milken Archive’s compilation of Yiddish Theater’s greatest hits.
David Braun, Ph.D. (Yiddish language & history) is a language teacher and researcher of theoretical linguistics whose work focuses on Yiddish and English. He has taught at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, NYU, Hebrew University and the Yiddish Book Center. Braun additionally works as an editor/proofreader and language pronunciation coach for performers. He is co-chair of the board of the Sholem Aleichem Cultural Center.
Stuart Brotman (bass) has been a seminal figure in the revitalization of klezmer music since the late 1970s. Best known for his work with Brave Old World since 1989, Brotman has more recently had the great good fortune to be a member of Veretski Pass. He holds a BA in music from UCLA and has taught at Sweets Mill, Fiddle Tunes, Mendocino Balkan Camp, KlezKamp, KlezKanada, KlezCalifornia, KlezFest London, Yiddish Summer Weimar, Klezmer Festival Fürth, and the Krakow Jewish Cultural Festival.
Anthony Coleman is a renowned contemporary composer and pianist/keyboardist. He has presented his work at the Sarajevo Jazz Festival (Bosnia), North Sea Jazz Festival (Holland), Saalfelden Festival (Austria), and the Krakow and Vienna Jewish Culture Festivals. Ensembles led by Coleman have recorded extensively for Tzadik and include the trio Sephardic Tinge and Selfhaters Orchestra. He has also toured and recorded with John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Marc Ribot, Shelley Hirsch, Roy Nathanson, and many others. Coleman’s recent CDs include The End of Summer (Tzadik), which features his NEC Ensemble Survivors Breakfast, Pushy Blueness (Tzadik) and Lapidation (New World), both recordings of his chamber music; Shmutsige Magnaten, featuring interpretations of the songs of Mordechai Gebirtig; Freakish: Anthony Coleman Plays Jelly Roll Morton (both Tzadik), Damaged by Sunlight (DVD – La Huit) , and You(New World).
Walter Zev Feldman, Ph.D. (ethnomusicology, dance, tsimbl) – A pioneering instigator of the international klezmer revival through his work from the mid-1970s with Andy Statman and Dave Tarras, Feldman is a leading scholar of both klezmer and Ottoman music. His new book Klezmer: Music, History, and Memory (Oxford University Press) is the first comprehensive study of the musical structure and social history of klezmer. As a tsimbl (cimbalom/hammered dulcimer) player, Feldman co-founded the influential Khevrisa ensemble with violinist Steven Greenman, and performs with clarinetist Alex Fiterstein. He serves as co-director of the An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture.
Jill Gellerman (dance, dance ethnography) is a leading Yiddish dance pedagogue and scholar whose research is situated at the intersections of Jewish studies, gender studies, and performance studies, including folk and popular culture, music, and dance history. Jill has documented men’s and women’s dance traditions amongst a number of Hasidic sects, and taught for many years at KlezKamp.
Sonia Gollance, Ph.D. (Yiddish literature and culture) –– Born on Second Avenue and now living in Germany, Gollance recently completed a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and currently holds a Moritz Stern Fellowship in Modern Jewish Studies at the University of Göttingen. A scholar, translator, and dance leader, her work is concerned with Yiddish literature, German-Jewish Studies, and Yiddish folk dance. She has presented her research at Jewish cultural festivals in the United States and internationally, including KlezKanada, Yiddish Summer Weimar, the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, and the Montreal International Yiddish Theatre Festival. She is the Managing Editor of Plotting Yiddish Drama, an initiative of the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project to create a searchable database of Yiddish play synopses. Gollance is currently working on a book manuscript about mixed-sex dancing in Jewish literature and culture.
Sarah Gordon** (educator, vocals) – Featured as lead vocalist with the acclaimed Yiddish rock group Yiddish Princess, Sarah has recorded and performed with many of the top Yiddish groups in the world including The Klezmatics, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Daniel Kahn and The Painted Bird and others. A youth educator holding a M.Ed. from Bank Street, she teaches third grade in Brooklyn. Gordon is the daughter of the late Yiddish singer and activist Adrienne Cooper and Cantor Jonathan Gordon.
Avery Gosfield (musicology) is a specialist in medieval and Renaissance music. In 2004, a chance discovery of some Jewish-Italian sung poetry allowed her to conjugate her roots with her interest in early music. Since then, she has pursued the early-Jewish link with passion, painstakingly reconstructing the music for sung poetry in Yiddish, Giudeo-Italian, Judeo-Catalan, and Hebrew. In 2011, Dr. Alan Bern asked her to teach at Yiddish Summer Weimar, and she has been happily bouncing back and forth between both worlds ever since. She has given hundreds of concerts with Lucidarium, which she co-directs with Francis Biggi in venues such as the Vienna Konzerthaus, Ashkenaz (Toronto), and the Boston Early Music Festival. She has taught master classes on five continents, from the pre-school to post-graduate level, and lectures regularly. She has been the musical coordinator for a number of documentaries and curated symposiums dedicated to Early Jewish Music.
Itzik Gottesman, Ph.D.** (folklore & literature) – Internationally recognized as a leading scholar and activist for Yiddish language and culture, Gottesman currently teaches at University of Texas-Austin. He was previously managing editor of the Yiddish Forverts and authored the book Defining the Yiddish Nation: the Jewish Folklorists of Poland. Gottesman edits and writes the Yiddish Song of the Week blog for the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. He is the son of the renowned late poet/songwriter Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman.
Adrianne Greenbaum (flute) – is renowned as the leading exponent of the klezmer flute tradition and has had a long successful career as a orchestral and chamber/baroque musician, pedagogue and composer/arranger. Serving as Professor of Music at Mount Holyoke College, Greenbaum is additionally on the faculty at New Horizons in Chattauqua, NY and New England Music Camp. Greenbaum specializes in performing on vintage European and American wood flutes from the late nineteenth centuries. Her recent album “Farewell to the Homeland: Poyln” is based on a klezmer manuscript from Poland. Greenbaum tours internationally and regularly presents concerts and workshops for prestigious gatherings such as the National and British Flute Society Societies as well as the New York Flute Club. She is as Solo Flutist of the Wall Street Chamber Players, Principal Flute Emeritus of Orchestra New England and the New Haven Symphony. She has taught at KlezKamp, KlezKanada, KlezmerQuerque, Boxwood Festival (Nova Scotia) and Santa Fe Flute Immersion, and founded the World Music and Improv Camp in Connecticut.
Jordan Hirsch (trumpet) started playing in the fifth grade in his native Monsey (a shtetl in Rockland County, New York). He progressed through classical and swing ensembles, eventually studying with well-known teacher Murray Karpilovsky. Jordan’s yeshiva training, beginning in the ninth grade, led him into the Orthodox music field, where he came into contact with veteran trumpeters Marty Bass and Shelly Gordon, whose smooth stylings became a strong influence, along with swing/klezmer star Ziggy Elman. Hirsch is constantly in-demand as a performer for simkhes around the metropolitan region, and frequently concertizes with bands such as Kleztraphobix, Klezmerfest and his own Overnight Kugel ensemble.
Joshua Horowitz (piano, accordion, composition) is the founder and director of Budowitz and co-founder of Veretski Pass. He has performed and recorded with The Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Itzhak Perlman on PBS’s Great Performance series. Joshua is the recipient of numerous awards for his work as both composer and performer. He received the Prize of Honor by the Austrian government as well as the “Award for Outstanding Talent in Composition” from the City of Graz and was twice finalist in the National American ASCAP competition. Films featuring his music and scoring have been nominated for an Emmy (Defiant Requiem) and have been awarded the Indie Film Fest Award of Merit (Blast Zone) as well as the Sandford St. Martin Trust Religious Broadcasting Award and second place in The Palm Springs International Film Festival 2013. He currently teaches at Sonoma State University.
Miriam Isaacs, Ph.D. (Yiddish language & literature) – Born in a displaced persons camp, Isaacs taught Yiddish for many years on the faculty of the University of Maryland. Most recently she has held fellowships from the State Department’s Fulbright Scholars program to research Yiddish in Sweden and the Yiddish Book Center to translate her father’s memoir. Isaacs received a fellowship from the United States Holocaust Museum which enabled her to work with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance to make accessible to the public an important archive of recordings of Holocaust survivors made by Ben Stonehill in New York in 1948.
Rokhl Kafrissen is a playwright, cultural critic, journalist and lawyer in New York City. Her writing on new Yiddish art and Jewish life has appeared in the Forward, Haaretz, the Jewish Week, Lilith and many other publications, as well as her own blog, Rootless Cosmopolitan. Lately she has been writing a regular column, Rokhl’s Golden City, for Tablet Magazine. Kafrissen is the author of the bilingual (English-Yiddish) play A Brokhe, a gangster ghost romance in three acts which was featured at KlezKanada in 2014 and Yiddish New York in 2015.
Daniel Kahn (vocals, accordion, piano, theater) is the Berlin-based frontman of the punk-folk-klezmer band The Painted Bird, and a founding member of The Unternationale (with Psoy Korolenko), The Brothers Nazaroff (with Psoy, Michael Alpert, Jake Shulman-Ment, and Bob Cohen), and the Semer Ensemble (with Alan Bern, Sasha Lurje, Lorin Sklamberg, and more). In 2015, Kahn played Biff in New Yiddish Rep’s critically-acclaimed off-Broadway Toyt fun a Salesman (Death of a Salesman in Yiddish). His Brothers Nazroff ensemble released their first album on Smithsonian Folkways and is featured in the new documentary by Hungarian filmmaker Csaba Bereczki entitled “Soul Exodus.” Kahn is additionally featured in the “interlingual” love song duo program STRANGELOVESONGS with Sasha Lurje, as well as Semer Label Reloaded led by Alan Bern, which reinterprets Jewish music recorded in Berlin in the 30s.
Ben Katchor (culture & cartoons) – A famed cartoonist best known for his comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, Katchor has contributed comics and drawings to The Forward, The New Yorker, and numerous other publications. He is the recipient of prestigious Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, and was described by author Michael Chabon as “the creator of the last great American comic strip.” A fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, Katchor received an Obie award for his collaboration with Bang on a Can, and teaches at Parsons School of Design.
Tine Kindermann** (visual arts) is a German-Jewish visual artist and singer who lives and works in New York City. Her artistic work and recordings of old German folk songs draw inspiration from the darker side of folklore and deal with the timeless themes of love and loss, longing and loneliness. Kindermann’s dioramas and paintings have been shown at Stephen Romano Gallery, NY Studio Gallery, Metaphor Contemporary Art, NYU Galleries, the Toy Theatre Museum, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office and other places. She has been teaching in the visual arts program at KlezKanada for many years.
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Ph.D. is Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. She is University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University. Her books include Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage; Image before My Eyes: A Photographic History of Jewish Life in Poland, 1864–1939 (with Lucjan Dobroszycki); They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust (with Mayer Kirshenblatt), and Anne Frank Unbound: Media, Imagination, Memory (with Jeffrey Shandler). A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she received an award for lifetime achievement from the Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Yosl Mlotek Prize for Yiddish and Yiddish Culture, honorary doctorates from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and the University of Haifa, and the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland from the President of Poland. She was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She currently serves on Advisory Boards for the Council of American Jewish Museums, Vienna Jewish Museum, Berlin Jewish Museum, and Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow, and consults on museum and exhibition projects in Lithuania and Israel.
Irena Klepfisz (literature, culture) – Born in the Warsaw ghetto, Irena Klepfisz is a poet, Yiddish translator, and teacher of English literature, Yiddish language and literature, and Women’s Studies. She is the author of the poetry collection A Few Words in the Mother Tongue and Dreams of an Insomniac: Jewish Feminist Essays, Speeches, and Diatribes. Klepfisz is additionally a co-editor of The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women’s Anthology and Jewish Women’s Call for Peace: A Handbook for Jewish Women on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict, and served for many years as Yiddish editor for Bridges magazine. She has been a long-time activist whose work has addressed homophobia in the Jewish community, women and peace in the Middle East, and secular Jewish identity. She taught for 10 years at Bedford Correctional Facility for Women and has been teaching Jewish Women’s Studies for 20 years at Barnard College. Klepfisz is being honored this year with the 2016 Adrienne Cooper Dreaming in Yiddish Award.
Tamar Korn has been a New York-based vocalist for the last decade, playing a repertoire steeped in traditional New Orleans and early jazz, western swing, and American roots music. Her formative years were with one of the pioneers of New York hot jazz revival, The Cangelosi Cards, and she now leads her own band, A Kornucopia. Tamar is a founding member of both The Brain Cloud and The Grand St. Stompers and she often appears with Baby Soda jazz band, Terry Waldo, and on occasion joins the violinist Mark O’Connor as well as Irish folklorist and tenor banjo and bouzouki player Mick Moloney. Her love is of singing songs both lyrically as well as playing her voice “instrumentally”. Tamar has toured throughout North America, as well as to Scandinavia, France, Lithuania, China, and the Caribbean and has appeared at venues all over New York ranging from establishments such as Cafe Carlyle and Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola to retro-nouveau speakeasyish affairs such as Shanghai Mermaid, as well as NYC Winter Jazzfest.
Judy Kunofsky is the longtime executive director of KlezCalifornia, which connects people and communities with Yiddish culture. Founded in 2003, KlezCalifornia is based at the JCC of the East Bay in Berkeley, and annually produces concerts, cabarets, classes, workshops and more. Recently Kunofsky and KlezCalifornia have been developing curricular materials to teach Yiddish culture in schools.
Jenny Levison** (theater, creative activism) is a playwright, screenwriter, theater artist, dancer, musician, and social justice activist whose work focuses primarily in the areas of immigrant rights and racial equality, economic justice, disability rights, LGBTQ equality, counter-white nationalism, and progressive Jewish activism. Recently serving as a Laba Fellow at the 14th Street Y, Levison previously created Shtil, Mayn Corazon—A Yiddish Tango Cabaret, a dance, music, theater work; Don’t Kiss Me, I’m in Training, a play with artwork about transgendered surrealist Jewish artist Claude Cahun, and Ezekiel’s World, a multi-media stage adaptation of Michael Kovner’s graphic novel of the same name. Levison works as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Development for the New York-based Race Forward/Center for Social Inclusion, and was previously Director of Programming for the JCC in Manhattan.
David Licht (percussion) is a co-founder of the GRAMMY-winning Klezmatics in NYC in 1985, and has played regularly with the band ever since. A member of the legendary groups Shockabilly and Bongwater, Licht has performed/collaborated with Ned Rothenberg, John Zorn, Tom Cora, Kapelye, Giora Feidman, David Krakaueffdr’s Klezmer Madness, the Tarras Band, T-Klez! and Yale Strom’s Hot Pstromi, as well as composing for choreographer Karen Heifetz. Licht has for decades been a popular teacher at camps such as KlezKanada, KlezKamp, Yiddish New York and other programs internationally.
Shura Lipovsky (vocals) is one of the most respected writers, composers, performers and pioneers of Yiddish song. Through her music, she strives for the validation of the Yiddish language as a poetic instrument for inter and intra-cultural dialogue and peace. Based in Amsterdam, she has served as the director of the Summer Song School ‘Golden Peacock’ for JMI in London, choir MCY in Paris and was a member of the quartet Serendipity 4, with Theodore Bikel and Merima Kljuco. She has been featured in numerous international documentary films and television programs on Yiddish culture.
Ex-Sir Frank London** (trumpet) is a Grammy-award winner and co-founder of The Klezmatics. His Yiddish-opera-in-a-Cuban-nightclub Hatuey Memory of Fire (with Elise Thoron) will premiere at Peak Performances in September, 2018. His multi-art spectacle Salomé, Woman of Valor (with Adeena Karasick) will premiere at Vancouver’s Chutzpah! Festival in March, 2018. The Glass House Orchestra recording, Jewish Music from Astro-Hungary, was nominated for three German Kritiks’ Best-of-Year 2017 awards. He composed the folk-opera A Night In The Old Marketplace (with Alex Aron and Glen Berger), Green Violin (with Elise Thoron & Rebecca Taichman, Barrymore Prize for Best New Musical), Davenen for Pilobolus Dance Theater, 1001 Voices: Symphony for a New America (with Judith Sloan & Warren Lehrer), and music for Tony Kushner’s A Dybbuk, and John Sayles’ The Brother From Another Planet. He has worked with John Zorn, Karen O, Itzhak Perlman, Pink Floyd, LL Cool J, Mel Tormé, Lester Bowie, LaMonte Young, They Might Be Giants, David Byrne; and has been featured on HBO’s Sex And The City.
Sasha Lurje (vocals) – A native of Riga now living in Berlin, Lurje performs internationally with the Forshpil duo (with accordionist Ilya Shneyveys) as well as with Goyfriend, a new collaboration with clarinetist Zisl Slepovitch and Litvakus. Lurje was commissioned by the Maxim Gorki Theater Studio in Berlin to develop an “interlingual” love song duo program STRANGELOVESONGS with Daniel Kahn, and has recently been appearing as a founding member of Semer Label Reloaded led by Alan Bern, which reinterprets Jewish music recorded in Berlin in the 30s.
Lisa Mayer (comedy)– the Maine Rebbetzin, is a Clio-Award winning copywriter from Madison Avenue in New York City who now lives in Auburn, Maine, near lakes, mountains, moose and Starbucks. Her funny, bite-sized memoirs have been featured on the Huffington Post and published in the National Jewish Forward and other newspapers. She has performed all over the world from Cracow to Jerusalem, and from Montreal to Dallas as a Yiddish singer and Klezmer violinist together with her husband, Rabbi Sruli Dresdner, and featured on PBS-TV and National Public Radio. She also started the Maine-ly Jewish Storytelling Festival, now in it’s fourth year.
Mitch Mernick (radio station) – In 2002 Mitch started Radio KlezKamp in the hotel lobby during the annual Yiddish folk-arts festival KlezKamp, where live performances and interviews were recorded and participants showcased their CDs. Now you can come visit him in the lobby of the 14th Street Y during Yiddish New York where he will be broadcasting live on www.ourvoicesradio.net. In addition to Our Voices Radio, Mitch founded Radio Kol Ramah, an educational radio station at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, and the podcast channel Kolotshelanu which highlights the annual Cantor Moss memorial concert at the Town & Village Synagogue in NYC. Visit www.ourvoicesradio.net and listen to podcasts of Yiddish New York interviews, live performances as well as our 24 hr stream which includes Radio Klezkamp archives.
Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer** (religion/spirituality, vocals) is the assistant rabbi and co-music director for Romemu, an innovative congregation on the Upper West Side. She came to the rabbinate after a successful career as an actress, most notably featured in Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film The Pianist. Meyer was ordained by Hebrew College Rabbinical School, and strives to build community through prayerful music, and music through prayerful community. During her rabbinic training she developed inter-generational education programs and prayer services for Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, MA, interned with a Masorti community in Tel Aviv, and spent a year in Jerusalem directing leadership programs for the non-profit organization Encounter. As a musician, Jessica served as ‘Jewish music specialist’ and led ‘nigun labs’ in Boston area synagogues, and performed as vocalist/storyteller/fiddler in a klezmer band with Hankus Netsky.
Rabbi Avram Mlotek** (teen program) is a co-founder of Base, an innovative new model for Jewish practice that reaches out to unaffiliated young adults. The Forward recently listed him as one of America’s “Most Inspiring Rabbis” and in 2012, he was recognized by the Jewish Week as one of 36 outstanding leading Jewish leaders 36 years or under in 2012. Mlotek served as a rabbi in training at The Carlebach Shul, The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, The Educational Alliance and Hunter College Hillel. His writings have appeared in The Forward, Tablet, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Week, and The Huffington Post. A native Yiddish speaker, and accomplished actor, Mlotek is the son of Folksbiene director Zalman Mlotek and the grandson of noted Yiddish song researchers Chana and Joe Mlotek.
Adam Moss* (violin) – A Brooklyn based fiddler and songster, Moss is accomplished in a number of traditional genres including klezmer, bluegrass, old-time and swing. He is actively touring with with his twin brother David as The Brothers Brothers, and also performs frequently with groups such as Boston’s Session Americana, Brooklyn’s The Defibulators, and Ana Egge.
Luisa Muhr (theater, creative activism) is a multi-lingual NYC-based multi- and interdisciplinary artist who works as an actor, vocalist, movement artist, director, writer, educator, and currently curates the interdisciplinary women artists series, Women Between Arts, at The New School. She is also the co-founder of the theater and performing arts company FENGARI Ensemble. Her performance work varies from classical, experimental/avant-garde, puppet, Yiddish, movement-based, to musical theater, and multiple engagements as a singer/vocalist. Earlier this year Luisa performed with composer John Zorn and poet Kenneth Goldsmith in the Paris Capital of the 19th Century / New York Capital of the 20th Century performance at the Jewish Museum and as the lead role in Albright at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, NY. Luisa also recently premiered her music-exploration piece WASSER WORKS at The Stone and collaborated with Canadian Klezmer/Punk singer-songwriter Geoff Berner as part of the New York Klezmer Series. Luisa performs in English, Yiddish, and German. Furthermore she is honored to have been offered by Meredith Monk to teach Monk’s work in different schools and communities. Throughout the last decade Luisa has created and directed multiple pieces on national and international stages.
Priscilla “Cilla” Owens (vocals) has been described as being “as smooth as Nancy Wilson, as authoritative as Sarah Vaughan, and as informed as Carmen McRae” (Jazz Times). Her credits include performances at Lincoln Center, the Blue Note, Symphony Space, Carnegie Hall, The Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture, the New York Historical Society, and the Brooklyn Museum. She has performed in Germany and the Caribbean, as well as in the Annual Festival of Jewish Music in Krakow, Poland, and the Blues to Bop Festival in Lugano, Switzerland, both with saxophonist Paul Shapiro’s Ribs and Brisket Revue. The Ribs and Brisket Revue has appeared at numerous venues and special events, such as the Oyhoo Festival’s Bringing Down the Roof, the Eldridge Street Museum Annual Awards Celebration, The Simon Wiesenthal Foundation Awards Celebration, and the 2008 Inaugural Ball at the National Synagogue. She has directed Hunter College’s Jazz Vocal Workshop for a number of years and has enjoyed a long association with singer Gregory Maninakis and his Mikrokosmos ensemble.
Ethel Raim*** (vocals) – Recognized as one of the nation’s leading advocates for traditional performing arts, Raim is a master singer of unaccompanied Yiddish ballads and Balkan folk songs. She first gained recognition with American audiences during the folk revival of the 1960s as the founder of the influential all-women’s group The Pennywhistlers. Raim served as music editor of Sing Out! Magazine before joining Martin Koenig in founding the Balkan Arts Center in 1968, which later changed its name to the Ethnic Folk Arts Center and today is known as the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. Raim is a 2013 recipient of a prestigious Benjamin Botkin Award from the American Folklore Society for her career contribution to public sector folklore.
Allen Lewis Rickman (theater) is an actor, writer, and director, whose credits include the Coen brothers’ Oscar-nominated A Serious Man, Barry Levinson’s You Don’t Know Jack (with Al Pacino), John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo (with Woody Allen), and recurring roles on Boardwalk Empire and Public Morals. He co-adapted and directed the Drama Desk-nominated Yiddish Pirates of Penzance, and has acted on Broadway, Off Broadway, in regional theatre, and in Yiddish theatre. Plays he’s written have been produced in France, Denmark, Spain, Luxembourg, Sweden, and New Jersey, and his revue The Essence: A Yiddish Theater Dim Sum was published in the anthology Yiddishkeit, co-edited by the late Harvey Pekar.
Jenny Romaine (theater, teens) is a founding member of the Obie-winning Great Small Works visual theater collective based in New York City, and the inaugural winner of the Adrienne Cooper Award for Dreaming in Yiddish. She was a sound archivist at the YIVO institute for Jewish Research for 13 years and has dedicated three decades to the creation of New Yiddish Performance ranging from giant spectacle and film to installation and miniature theater performed in living rooms. For over 15 years she has music directed Bessie/Obie winning Circus Amok directed by Jennifer Miller. In 2016 Romaine received the Marshall T Meyer Risk Taker Award from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and was a featured culture producer/educator on the Helix Project sponsored by Yiddishkayt Los Angeles in Belarus, Lithuania, and Latvia. Recently Romaine wrote and co-created Muntergang and other Cheerful Downfalls, a hand puppet show about two Yiddish radical puppeteers from the early 20th century (Zuni Maud and Yosl Kotler) and directed the Yiddish epic Bovo D’Antona adapted by New York Times bestselling author Michael Wex, for Yiddish Summer Weimar and KlezKanada.
Joyce Rosenzweig** (piano) – Rosenzweig is a well-known collaborative pianist, conductor, master class presenter, lecturer, coach, arranger, and authority on Jewish art and synagogue music, as well as Yiddish music. She appears frequently in concerts throughout the world with leading cantors and Yiddish singers. She is the Artist-in-Residence at the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College, where she teaches Yiddish song repertoire, modal harmony, and is the conductor of the Cantorial student chorus, in addition to playing for recitals and services. She is also an adjunct professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the long time Music Director of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in Manhattan. Ms. Rosenzweig can be heard on several CD’s including “Dreaming in Yiddish” with legendary Yiddish singer, Adrienne Cooper, “A Leyter tzum Himl” with Cantor Robert Abelson, “Chalamti Chalom” with Cantor David Berger, as well as her forthcoming CD of art songs by American-Jewish refugee composers entitled “Refuge.”
Pete Rushefsky*** (tsimbl) – A leading performer, composer and researcher of the Jewish tsimbl (cimbalom or hammered dulcimer), Rushefsky tours and records internationally with violinist Itzhak Perlman as part of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and collaborates with a number of leading figures in the contemporary klezmer scene including Andy Statman, Adrianne Greenbaum, Steven Greenman, Joel Rubin, Eleonore Biezunski, Michael Alpert, Madeline Solomon, Zhenya Lopatnik, Zoe Aqua, Jake Shulman-Ment, Keryn Kleiman, Eleonore Weill, Joanna Sternberg and Michael Winograd. Since 2006 he has served as Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to the preservation and presentation of diverse immigrant music traditions from around the world. He curated the Yiddish program at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival and has authored a number of articles on traditional music and culture.
Elissa Sampson, Ph.D. (geography/history) is an urban geographer who studies how the past is actively used to create new spaces of migration, memory and heritage. Her recent publications touch upon Jewish life today in the Lower East Side, contemporary Yiddish theater, Triangle Fire commemoration, the academic use of the term “Ghetto” in relation to East European Jews in the U.S., and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s stories of immigrant history. She has given academic and public tours, and lectures on the Lower East Side’s historic and contemporary migrant/immigrant communities, labor history and built environment. Dr. Sampson was recently a featured consultant for the 2016 documentary, Streit’s and the American Dream.
Binyumen Schaechter (chorus) has been the leader of the Jewish People’s Philharmonic since 1995. He is an award-winning composer of musicals and other songs which have been performed on five continents, with his music represented off-Broadway in Naked Boys Singing (one of the longest-running shows in off-Broadway history), Pets! (Dramatic Publishing), That’s Life! (Outer Critics Circle nomination), Too Jewish? (nominated: Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle Awards) and Double Identity. His most recent musical, Dinner at Eight, won BMI’s Jerry Bock Award for Outstanding Achievement in Musical Theatre. His music has been performed by Tovah Feldshuh and Andrea Marcovicci and has been recorded on ten CDs, including It Helps to Sing About it, Songs of Ben Schaechter and Dan Kael. He has been touring with both of his daughters, the Shekhter Tekhter in Australia, Brazil, Europe, Israel and North America. A documentary film was released in 2012, When Our Bubbes and Zeydas Were Young: The Schaechter Sister on State, in which Binyumen also plays a central role. As an actor, he was featured with Anna Deveare Smith in her one-woman show in Carnegie Hall. He was also musical director of the Pripetshik Singers, the one-of-a-kind ensemble of native-Yiddish-speaking children, which has been documented in the film, Pripetshik SIngs Yiddish! He provided the translations for the first-ever DVD with Yiddish subtitles, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. He and his sisters all speak only Yiddish with their children, giving his parents 16 fluent-Yiddish-speaking grandchildren.
Cookie Segelstein (violin, viola) received her MA in Viola from The Yale School of Music in 1984. She is the founder and director of Veretski Pass, a founding member of The Youngers of Zion with Henry Sapoznik, and plays in Budowitz. She has also performed with many famous and many obscure musicians. She presents lecture demonstrations and workshops on klezmer fiddling all over the world, including Living Tradition’s KlezKamp, KlezCalifornia, KlezKanada, American Festival of Fiddle Tunes, Yale University, and University of Wisconsin in Madison. Her favorite hobby is photographing wildlife in places that there is no cellphone service. Cookie lives in Berkeley, California with her husband Josh Horowitz, two cats, a dog and her occasionally visiting adult children.
Paul Shapiro (saxophone/clarinet) is best known for his critically acclaimed recordings on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, and his music has been acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal as “a brilliant synthesis of klezmer and hard bop.” In 2004 Shapiro was commissioned by the Museum of Jewish Heritage to compose a score for the 1925 silent film His People. It has since been performed at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, Poland and at festivals in San Francisco, Denver, San Diego and New York. Shapiro also wrote the score to the award winning film Watermelon Woman. Shapiro was a long-time member of the Microscopic Septet and a founding member of Brooklyn Funk Essentials. He has also recorded with Frankie Knuckles, Lou Reed, David Byrne, Jay-Z, Queen Latifah, Michael Jackson among others, and toured with Ofra Haza.
Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch, Ph.D. (clarinet), is a multi-instrumentalist (reeds, keyboards), singer, composer, scholar, educator, and Yiddish activist. Slepovitch serves as Assistant Music Director/Music Director in many productions by the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene, including the Drama Desk Award-nominated operetta The Golden Bride. He is the founder and leader of the ensembles Goyfriend (with singer Sasha Lurje), Litvakus and the Belarus-based Minsker Kapelye. Additionally a leading scholar or Belarussian Jewish music, Slepovitch has taught at The New School, Brandeis University, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Amherst College, Vassar College, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Some of Slepovitch’s theater, film, and TV contributions include consulting and acting in Defiance featuring Daniel Craig, and his arrangements were featured in violinist Itzhak Perlman’s PBS special Rejoice.
Mark Slobin, Ph.D. (ethnomusicology) is the Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music Emeritus at Wesleyan University and the author or editor of many books on Afghanistan and Central Asia, Eastern European Jewish music, film music, and ethnomusicology theory, two of which have received the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award: Fiddler on the Move: Exploring the Klezmer World and Tenement Songs: Popular Music of the Jewish Immigrants. A member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Slobin has served as President of both the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Society for Asian Music. In the late 1970s and early 80s Slobin served as the academic adviser to Zev Feldman and Andy Statman’s NEA-funded project with Dave Tarras through the Balkan Arts Center (now Center for Traditional Music and Dance) that helped to jumpstart the international klezmer revitalization. Slobin is currently working on a book about ethnic music in his hometown of Detroit.
Peter Sokolow (piano, keyboards, reed instruments, vocalist) has been active in Jewish music since 1956 as performer, arranger-orchestrator, author and co-author of books on klezmer performance and repertoire, among them “The Compleat Klezmer”, and teacher-lecturer-historian. He performed regularly with many of the “greats” of the past: Dave Tarras, Irving Gratz, the Epstein Brothers, Sid Beckerman, Paul Pincus, Ray Musiker, Howie Leess, Danny Rubinstein, Rudy Tepel, Sam Kutcher, and many, many others. He served as the link between the older generation and the young revivalists, active at camps such as KlezKamp and KlezKamp for decades. His many recordings include Epstein Brothers (3 recordings: 1 in 1971, 2 in 1993), Nigunei Chabad (7 recordings 1973 – 1981), Original Klezmer Jazz Band (1984 – 1993), Klezmer Plus (1988), Ray Musiker (2006), Michael Winograd’s Tarras Band (2010), Klezmerfats (2002), Kapelye (3 recordings: 1994, 2003, 2005), and Peter Sokolow: A Living Tradition (2010). He also has had parallel careers playing in traditional jazz and commercial dance groups. TV/Film appearances: The Chosen (1981), A Jumpin’ Night in the Garden of Eden (1988), Fiddler on the Hoof (BBC 1991), A Tickle in the Heart (1996), In the Fiddler’s House (1998).
Deborah Strauss** (violin) is a beloved internationally-acclaimed klezmer violinist and educator who has been active in the klezmer and Yiddish music scene for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Strauss/Warschauer Duo and was a long-time member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble. Strauss has appeared on numerous recordings, was featured in the Emmy award-winning PBS special, Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler’s House, and teaches Yiddish music, dance and culture regularly at festivals internationally. For her work with children, Deborah received a Workmen’s Circle award for excellence in teaching.
Hannah Temple* (accordion) is a musician, educator and agitator based in Brooklyn. She is long time member of New York’s radical brass band the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and plays accordion with the new klezmer quartet Tsibele. She has acted as musical director for the Aftselakhis Spectacle Committee’s Purimshpil and for Zoe Beloff’s Days of the Commune, a re-staging of Brecht’s Paris Commune in Zuccotti Park. She is a social justice facilitator for teens and youth at the Midtown Workmen’s Circle Shule and for the Youth Brigade of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
Deborah Ugoretz** (visual arts) is a visual artist who works across a number of media. She is a master papercutter who explores the tradition in Yiddish culture. Her papercuts have been included in publications by the Museum of Art and Design (New York) and the Middlesex County (New Jersey) Cultural and Heritage Commission’s Folklife program. Ugoretz has designed stained glass windows and synagogue art for the Russ Berrie Home for Jewish Life in Rockleigh, New Jersey and other houses of worship. She has received commissions from The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the University of Michigan, Jewish Theological Seminary, YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and she has taught/lectured on papercutting and other arts at a number of institutions. Ugoretz additionally was a coordinator for an Artist Beit Midrash, a group of artists who study Jewish texts and then create visual interpretations.
Josh Waletzky** (vocals, piano, film) is a leading contemporary Yiddish songwriter and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. He co-produced the Grammy-nominated album of Jewish songs of resistance, Partisans of Vilna (1989), and his groundbreaking CD of original Yiddish songs, Crossing the Shadows (2001), was greeted as “a classic of the American-Jewish folk revival.” With the arrival of his newest album of original Yiddish songs, PASAZHIRN / Passengers (2017), Waletzky has been hailed as “the poet-laureate of new Yiddish songwriting.” Waletzky has been involved as a director and editor of a number of acclaimed films. He directed Image Before My Eyes (1981), Partisans of Vilna (1986), and the Academy Award-nominated Music for the Movies: Bernard Herrmann (1992). His newest film, Yonia Fain: With Pen and Paintbrush (2017) is a bio-doc of the Vilna-educated writer and painter. Waletzky’s editing credits include the Emmy Award-winning documentary Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler’s House (1995). He was additionally a consultant to Barbra Streisand on her production of Yentl. He has served as a master teacher to a number of Yiddish singers and songwriters through the Center for Traditional Music and Dance and New York State Council on the Arts’ Folk Arts Apprenticeship program. Waletzky was for a number of years the music director at Camp Boiberik. His father, Sholom, was a noted Yiddish singer and his mother, Tsirl, was a master visual artist.
Cantor Jeff Warschauer (religion/spirituality, vocals, mandolin, guitar) is internationally renowned as a leading klezmer mandolinist, as an innovator in the development of a klezmer guitar style, as an expressive Yiddish singer, and as a skillful and inspirational educator. One half of the Strauss/Warschauer Duo, Jeff was a long-time member of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. He is on the faculty of Columbia University and is a Founding Artistic Director and Senior Artistic Advisor of KlezKanada. A graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the New England Conservatory, Jeff is Cantor at Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown, PA, and has served congregations in NY, CT, OH, ME and VT. Jeff speaks Yiddish, and has researched and collected Yiddish and Hebrew songs and instrumental melodies since the mid-1980s. Jeff has studied Jewish culture, languages, and religion in the US, the UK and in Israel, and has received numerous prizes, including the KlezKanada Distinguished Service Award.
Eleonore Weill* (flute, piano, recorder, hurdy-gurdy, singer) has enjoyed a versatile career performing early, classical and contemporary music, klezmer and Yiddish song, Romanian folk music, Occitan folk music, and various other styles throughout Europe and the New York metro area with the klezmer ensemble Tsibele, the C.M.B.V. (Baroque Music Center of Versailles), Orchestre National de Toulouse, Les Saqueboutiers, Ensemble Oneiroi, Miquéu Montanaro, Jenny Romaine and Great Small Works, Joey Weisenberg, Shpilkes, Jake Shulman-Ment, Les Eclats and many others. Raised in the south of France, Eléonore now resides in Brooklyn, NY where she performs and teaches music. She holds degrees in music from the National Conservatory of Paris, the Regional Conservatory of Toulouse, and holds a MA in Ethnomusicology from the Sorbonne.
Michael Wex is the author of three popular books on Yiddish, including the bestselling Born to Kvetch. Wex has taught Yiddish at the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan and is a mainstay of the contemporary Yiddish scene. A native speaker whose Yiddish songs have been recorded by such bands as the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, Wex has translated material ranging from classical Yiddish literature to testimony for war crimes trials. He has also translated The Threepenny Opera from German into Yiddish. His most recent book, Rhapsody in Schmaltz, a study of Ashkenazi food that does for Yiddish food what Born to Kvetch did for Yiddish speech, was published in April 2016 by St. Martin’s Press.
Michael Winograd** (clarinet) is one of the most sought out Klezmer musicians today. He performs internationally with his own groups, the Yiddish Art Trio (with Patrick Farrell and Benjy Fox-Rosen), Tarras Band (with Pete Sokolow and Ben Holmes), Yiddish Princess, as well as with Socalled, Budowitz, Frank London and others. Winograd received prestigious commissions from the MAP Fund and Chamber Music America for his Sandaraa project with renowned Pakistani vocalist Zeb Bangash. He is currently serving as the Artistic Director of KlezKanada (Quebec), and teaches regularly at Jewish music workshops throughout North America and Europe. His most recent solo album Storm Game was released on Golden Horn Records in 2012.
*YNY Fellows/Work Study
**YNY Organizing Committee
***Fiscal sponsor (Center for Traditional Music and Dance)