Sun Nov 14 2021


Pacific Time
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm


Presented by KlezCalifornia
Co-presented by Chochmat HaLev

“A Bintel Brief,” an online participatory dramatic reading

Join an engaging, fun and theatrical reading of selected letters and responses from the acclaimed book, A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters From the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward, compiled and edited by Isaac Metzker. Published in 1971, the collection consists of translations of selected letters from Jewish immigrants settling and assimilating in this country, with responses from editor Abraham Cahan. The letters are heartfelt, direct, vivid, and sometimes almost lurid.

This dramatic participatory reading will take place Sunday, November 14, 1:30-3pm Pacific Time (4:30pm Eastern, 9:30pm London, 10:30pm Paris, 11:30pm Tel Aviv. Please confirm local time) on Zoom. The one-hour readings will be followed by a free-ranging discussion.

About A Bintel Brief
The mass migration of 2.6 million Jews to America from 1880-1924 led to many Jews settling on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City. These recent immigrants faced issues of poverty, cultural change, antisemitism, domestic relations, connections to the Old Country, and social justice. These concerns and more were reflected in the many letters they sent to the Jewish Daily Forward, a Yiddish newspaper established in 1897 and with a circulation of a quarter of a million in the early 1930s. In 1906, Abraham Cahan, the editor, established the letters feature, A Bintel Brief (a bundle of letters). In these published letters, people poured out their hearts about their problems and received advice from Cahan.

To reserve a space, scroll down and complete the registration form to be a READER (limited to 15) or a member of the AUDIENCE (unlimited). If you see only Audience, all Reader places have been filled. Registration ends at 9am PT the day of the event. After then, write; we cannot promise to notice your email if you contact us after the deadline.

Both readers and audience can participate in the discussion after the one-hour readings. All readers need to obtain a copy of the book in advance. A Bintel Brief is available for purchase at bookstores or online (approx. $14.95). The Jewish Community Library in San Francisco has it available to check out as an e-edition.

Readers must register no later than Sunday, November 7, i.e. one week before the event, and must agree to be “on camera” while they read. Each reader will be sent a list of the order of the letters and the letter(s) and page numbers for which they are responsible. Please note: readers may be assigned both male and female voices. Audience members must register by 9am the morning of the event.

Those who have registered by Sunday 9am PT will receive sign-in instructions and Zoom suggestions by 11am PT that day. If you have not heard, first check your spam folder, then write Please do not wait until just before the event begins to notice whether you have the sign-in info.

To keep you informed of future events, we enroll registrants in our free monthly newsletter, which includes Yiddish culture events in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. You may unsubscribe at any time. KlezCalifornia does not share its lists with other organizations.

This event is FREE. However KlezCalifornia relies on donations from participants to cover the costs of online lectures, workshops, kumzitsn, play readings, and more. Donations of $18 or $36 (or whatever you can afford) are needed to enable us to continue to connect you with Yiddish culture. Please consider donating at least the cost of a cup of coffee!

KlezCalifornia is aware that the standard YIVO transliteration of the name of the newspaper column is A Bintl Brif. For this event, we use the spelling of the book from which we are drawing letters and responses.