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Henry "Hank" Sapoznik

Henry “Hank” Sapoznik

A pioneering scholar and performer of klezmer music, Sapoznik was the first director of the Max and Frieda Weinstein Archives of Recorded Sound at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, from its founding in 1982, until 1994. As an outgrowth of that work, in 1985 Sapoznik started “KlezKamp: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program”, the world’s most important training venue for practitioners of this nearly lost art and, in 1994, founded the Yiddish arts… Read More »Henry “Hank” Sapoznik

A Discussion with Rabbi YY & Nissim Black: From Islam, to Christianity, to Judaism

Grand Army Plaza Menorah. Photo by Julienne Schaer - NYC and Company

Grand Army Plaza Menorah Lighting Times 2022 – 5783

Grand Army Plaza Menorah. Photo by Julienne Schaer – NYC and Company Menorah Lighting Times 2022 – 5783 Menorah Lighting Times 2022 – 5783 1st Night of Chanukah, Sunday, December 18 Kickoff Concert Event begins at 4:00 pm 2nd Night of Chanukah, Monday, December 19 at 6:00 pm 3rd Night of Chanukah, Tuesday, December 20 at 6:00 pm 4th Night of Chanukah, Wednesday, December 21 at 6:00 pm 5th Night of Chanukah, Thursday, December 22 at… Read More »Grand Army Plaza Menorah Lighting Times 2022 – 5783

Old Jewish Men

Old Jewish Men – TikTock Sensation

Old Jewish Men TikTok’s ‘Old Jewish Men’ demand cheap lox, public toilets in NYC ‘protests’By Ben BlanchetNY Post Whether it’s the price of lox or public toilets, one of the latest TikTok trends features old dudes kvetching for a cause. “Make lox $2.99 per pound again,” gripe the elderly social media stars of @oldjewishmen, who take videos of the “protests” they stage around the city. The lifestyle brand from director Noah Rinsky,… Read More »Old Jewish Men – TikTock Sensation

Yiddish Musical Theater

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Yiddish Sheet Music

Oral tradition dies never: Yiddish musical theater, from Eastern Europe to the Lower East Side

Like any folk or traditional music, Yiddish music came into being as a record and reflection of a common lived experience. The music developed through oral tradition, as Ashkenazi Jews converted poetic texts of into secular music to mark Jewish life cycle events. As an oral practice, the musical tradition thrived through adaptation, with Jews and non-Jews mingling, each borrowing from one another. Yiddish musical theater arose from Jewish minstrelsy and the Purimshpil (Purim-play) – religious-inspired performances included as part of Purim celebrations that included short plays, music, costuming, and pageantry – and reaching the height of its popularity in eastern Europe by the nineteenth century. This minstrelsy usually borrowed from liturgy, folk tradition, secular Jewish songs, or non-Jewish musical sources. The minstrel tradition was often presented through satire, “historic or timely ballads,” commentaries, or adapted folk stories, and often appealed to less educated, less affluent audiences, dealing with political, social, or economic themes, or the “always timely themes of life, faith, and hope” (Heskes, 75). Yiddish theater’s success in eastern Europe ended when Russian authorities banned Jewish theatricals in 1883. At this point Jews, including many Jewish minstrels, began to emigrate, many crossing the Atlantic and entering the U.S. through New York, finally settling on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and spawning a fresh Yiddish musical theater scene within the working class immigrant community. Irene Heskes describes, “This musical theater and its popular songs were a chronicle of the times, infusing essences of the Old World into the new American scene. Theatrical stars served as surrogate family, and their presentations helped explain and interpret, entertain and guide, thereby easing difficulties in the period of change” (76). The “big three” houses appeared in the late nineteenth century –The People’s Theater, the Windsor, and the Thalia. In 1902 journalist Hutchins Hapgood wrote that these theaters represented “…the world of the Ghetto – that New York City of Russian Jews, large, complex, with a full life and civilization…[and] alone present the serious as well as the trivial interests of an entire community” (Heskes, 77).
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Are We Funny or What?

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Submitted by Joe Dorinson Brooklyn produced a bumper crop of comic artists. Many of the nation’s premier humorists–Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Buddy Hackett, Jack Carter, Joan Rivers, Fanny Brice (and her avatar, Barbra Streisand),  Alan King, Lenny Bruce, Danny Kaye, Abe Burrows, Phil Silvers, Phil Foster, and Henny Youngman–mined their Brooklyn past and Jewish roots for comedic nuggets. Starting in local candy stores, they honed their… Read More »Are We Funny or What?

What’s in a name?

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Sandra Aboulafia, interviewed May 30, 2012, Brooklyn Borough Hall: My family is both Sephardic and Ashkenazi. Aboulafia is a very, very old name. It can be traced back to the year 800. Rabbi Aboulafia came from Toledo, Spain and the El Greco museum used to be the home of Samuel Aboulafia, and my brother is Samuel Aboulafia, so the name has carried through all this history. During the Spanish Inquisition, the… Read More »What’s in a name?

My Brooklyn Jewish Experience

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Growing up as a Jew in Brooklyn involved unique experiences. It could have been playing stickball in the one of the borough’s many parks, enjoying the beaches of Coney Island in the summer, playing street games after school, taking in a Brooklyn Dodgers game or weekend matinees. Whatever it was, we would love to hear about your Brooklyn Jewish experiences. Click here to share Your Story with us!

Congregation Ahavas Israel

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Congregation Ahavas Israel is a 120 year-old synagogue located in the Greenpoint Historic District in North Brooklyn, New York. The synagoguge holds Sabbath and holiday  services, all of which are followed by communal meals. It also organizes classes by visiting rabbis and scholars, and hosts Hanukah and parties as well as other communal events. Ahavas Israel is the only remaining Jewish congregation in a neighborhood that once supported five synagogues.… Read More »Congregation Ahavas Israel

Sandy Koufax

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Sandy Koufax 1961 Just in: Koufax was a baller of more than one kind Apparently Brooklyn Jewish baseball legend Sandy Koufax had short legs but also ups. He played basketball for Lafayette High School in Bath Beach, Brooklyn in the early 1950s, setting himself apart as an extraordinary player on the court before going on to his career as an all-star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. As an early teenager… Read More »Sandy Koufax

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