And We're All Brothers: Singing in Yiddish in Contemporary by Abigail Wood

By Abigail Wood

The sunrise of the twenty-first century marked a turning interval for American Yiddish tradition. The 'Old international' of Yiddish-speaking japanese Europe used to be fading from residing reminiscence - but whilst, Yiddish tune loved a renaissance of artistic curiosity, either between a more youthful iteration looking reengagement with the Yiddish language, and, such a lot prominently through the transnational revival of klezmer tune. The final area of the 20th century and the early years of the twenty-first observed a gradual movement of latest songbook courses and recordings in Yiddish - newly composed songs, famous singers acting nostalgic favourites, American renowned songs translated into Yiddish, theatre songs, or even a number of forays into Yiddish hip hop; musicians in the meantime engaged with discourses of musical revival, post-Holocaust cultural politics, the transformation of language use, radical alterity and a brand new iteration of yankee Jewish identities. This ebook explores how Yiddish track turned any such effective medium for musical and ideological creativity on the twilight of the 20th century, providing an episode within the flowing timeline of a musical repertory - ny on the sunrise of the twenty-first century - and outlining a few of the trajectories that Yiddish tune and its singers have taken to, and past, this aspect.

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The song texts, then, provided a direct counterpart to the spoken selections. The two speakers focused primarily on the present, on their own relationship to the Holocaust as the children of survivors, several decades removed from the events themselves. Similarly, the candle-lighting ceremony drew attention to the here and now, to the relationship of survivors with the past. By contrast, the sung selections represented words brought directly from the past, written either before or during the Second World War (with the exception of two later, explicitly commemorative songs).

This contrasts with the emphasis on active cultural participation implied by the presentation of songs ‘ready to sing’ with their melodies in Weinreich’s and Schaechter’s books, a standpoint reflecting the ethos of the YIVO summer programme, perhaps to be expected given both authors’ close connection with the programme. Cultural literacy, then, is not an abstract educational goal, but rather has a reciprocal relationship with community. Cultural literacy allows an individual to participate in a community, it plays a role in defining community, and through community cultural literacy is shared, learned and expressed.

This culture of informal, creative singing came to fruition in the siyem hazman, the graduation ceremony on the final day of the summer programme. On the morning of 3 August 2001, students and teachers – joined by a considerable number of family, friends, a representative from the Forverts newspaper and other interested members of the Yiddishist community – gathered in the auditorium of the Center for Jewish History on West 16th Street for a programme whose blend of pageantry, high culture and parody echoed a longer Yiddish history of skits, purim shpiln and other theatro-musical expression.

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