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Yiddish Culture Fund
Grants Awarded

Fall 2023

Recipient: Cookie Segelstein

$1,500 to support Under the Hood: Using Jewish Archival Materials to Create New Music and Arrangements, and New Old Klezmer Jam

Sunday, December 10, 3pm Pacific Time (in person), and January 28, 3-5pm (see Event Directory)
Calliope-EBMA.org

This two-part program consists of:

  • Under the Hood: Sunday, December 10, 3pm, a 30-minute talk with violinist/violist, scholar and teacher Cookie Segelstein, will explore ways musicians can balance old-school research and learning with digital resources. How does Veretski Pass use Jewish archival collection materials to compose and arrange new music? This presentation shows their creative process, from gathering materials, to the treatment of the smallest melodic fragments, to using whole melodies. Cookie will show elements of this, including music sources, tempo and key treatments, melodic and rhythmic variations. This event requires a ticket to the immediately-following concert by the Veretski Pass ensemble in the Calliope East Bay Music and Arts at Saint Alban’s Church in Albany, which will include works created through this process. 
  • New Old Klezmer Jam, Sunday, January 28, 3-5pm PT, a jam session/play-along using these archival materials, with Jewish/klezmer melodies that are not in the general klezmer repertoire. Presented by Calliope, co-presented by KlezCalifornia and the San Francisco chapter of the California division of the American String Teachers Association.  This event is in person and streamed.

Recipient: Jake Schneider

Sunday, January 7, 11am Pacific Time (online)
https://jakeschneider.eu/shmues-un-vayn/

“A language doesn’t die because those who don’t know it don’t learn it, but because those who know it don’t speak it.”  –Basque proverb

Yiddish is a living language and Yiddish education is thriving, especially since the rise of Zoom made it accessible worldwide. But outside of Hasidic communities, speakers have few opportunities for a face-to-face conversation these days.

One exception is Shmues un Vayn, a Yiddish social club affiliated with the Yiddish.Berlin collective. The grassroots group meets two nights a month at Berlin bars, galleries, and parks over a glass of wine or beer. The only rule at these informal gatherings is to speak only Yiddish. In less than two years, the group has met more than forty times so far, attracted 89 members, and even organized satellite meetups in Kraków, Warsaw, Tel Aviv, and New York.

This online presentation and workshop, in English, with the club’s gabay Jake Schneider will delve into the practical details of starting and maintaining a sustainable ponim-al-ponim Yiddish social club and share lessons that you can adapt to your own local context. Using the Berlin group as a case study, we will talk about formats, outreach, promotion, roles, sustainability, and issues around language skills—with plenty of time for questions. The goal is to give you the tools you need to cultivate an active Yiddish-speaking community wherever you live.  The workshop video will be posted to KlezCalifornia’s website hoping to inspire young people in the S.F. Bay Area and beyond.

More info »

Recipients: Mike Perlmutter, Bruce Bierman, Zina Pozen, and JCC East Bay.

$1,500 to support a new series, The Joy of Jewish Music and Dance

Sundays, January 28, February 25, March 24, April 21, May 19, 1-4pm Pacific Time (in person)

A new series for Jewish instrumental music and dance will be held at the JCC East Bay. During the first hour, participants will learn klezmer music technique or Yiddish dance. Participants will all come together for the second hour for a dance party focusing on the dances and tunes taught in the prior hour. The third hour will be an informal music jam. One of the five dates will be for music and dance other than klezmer/Yiddish. This new series is also an opportunity to meet, shmooze, and network, or simply take in the beauty and goodness of these traditions. There will be a sliding scale admission fee for each event; no one turned away for lack of funds. Registration information is at https://jcceastbay.org/events/the-joy-of-jewish-music-and-dance/

Recipients: Liv Kunins-Berkowitz and Kaya Wurtzel

Grant: $500 to support Nosh: A Performative Feast, now renamed Mame-loshn

Saturday, March 16. This event is already full.

Mame-loshn is an intimate pop-up dinner in Oakland intended to celebrate the Yiddish language, uplift Ashkenazi foodways, and facilitate community. Yiddish will be integrated into this meal in three specific ways. First, the feast will include riso printed menus which feature Yiddish. Additionally, Kaya will create a tablecloth, a “text-ile,” in which the Yiddish words for the components of a place setting will be printed onto the very fabric of the table. This tablecloth will carry this first feast to future dinners, holding stains as memory on top of its original text. Finally, Liv will create a soundscape to serve as the backdrop to the meal which will include Yiddish music.

While this feast integrates the Yiddish language into the dining experience, it also uplifts the non-verbal languages that we use to pass on tradition and identity including food and art. Kaya and Liv conceived of the menu, which will be based on the staples of the Jewish delicatessen (pastrami, rye, pickles, bialys) through extensive conversation with their grandparents about their childhood food memories. Instead of payment, each guest will be asked to have a conversation with an elder in their family about their food memories. There will be a part of the meal where guests will all share from their conversations. This participatory art experience dwells at the intersection of the permanent and the ephemeral. Indeed, the experience will be unique and the food will only last a short while, but the menus, tablecloth, and photos of the event will endure. This tension sheds light on the very process of cultural preservation in which fragments both are lost and remain.

Following the initial dinner, Liv and Kaya will create an exhibit which will feature the tablecloth, menus, and photographs so that a larger public can interact with this event. They dream of hosting these dinners regularly to bring together a group of people to share in Yiddish language and culture.

Recipients: Atid Kimelman and Elan Loeb

$1,500 to support Kol: A Retreat for Jewish Music Across the Diaspora

May 10-12, 2024
https://www.kolretreat.org/

Kol is a 3-4 day Jewish music retreat to be held in the East Bay May 10-12. This event will bring together singers, musicians, and learners of diverse backgrounds and ages to explore both ancestral and modern Jewish music. Yiddish/klezmer music and dance workshops are key pieces of the event. Several paid teachers will teach longer workshops and volunteer teachers will teach shorter workshops. Some of the goals are to nurture connection to diaspora music, to build community, and create musical and Jewish connections in the Bay Area. Their two events in the past year were completely filled with young Jews.

Recipients: Raye Holab, Ben Sweet, Daniel Siegel, and Staenberg-Loup JCC in Denver

$500 to support KlezKolorado

Friday, May 3 – Sunday, May 5 (in person and online)
https://www.jccdenver.org/portfolio-items/klezkolorado/

KlezKolorado is a new weekend-long klezmer festival, at the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center Ranch Camp located an hour outside Denver that includes local and national klezmer acts, Yiddish culture, workshops, and Colorado’s Jewish community, creating a new space for Yiddishists to gather and celebrate our culture. There will be workshops on klezmer musicianship, Yiddish language, queer/leftist Jewish activism and history, yoga, Alexander technique for Klezmer musicians, dance and art. The organizing team is composed entirely of LGBTQ+ individuals in their twenties and thirties.

Most Yiddish culture intensives are on the East Coast, and the hours are difficult for West Coast remote participation. The grant will subsidize the costs of streaming the festival so S.F. Bay Area residents can participate.