The sound of Yiddish


Jonathan Mark of The New York Jewish Week reviews a new/old collection of Yiddish music, that also includes an actual Sholom Eliechem reading:

Sometimes the wall between this world and the Other World is as thin as the walls of an East Side tenement; one can hear the dead carrying on in Yiddish, playing accordions, cracking jokes. One can hear cantors davening, vaudevillians doing shtick as if in mountain casinos.

Listen – eavesdrop — through a 67-track, three-CD set, “Cantors, Klezmorim & Crooners 1905-1953,” a newly released anthology of a discarded world, compiled from discarded 78s, from the collection of Sherry Mayrent, associate director of KlezKamp and Living Traditions, a Yiddish arts preservation group.

In her introduction to the collection, Mayrent explains that in 2004 she came across 100 cantorial records on eBay, from the collection of a deceased cantor. Mayrent bought it for $40. She bought another 200 records from another collector, mostly klezmer this time.

Within five years, she acquired Yiddish recordings not only of cantors and klezmer but crooners, comedians, novelty acts — 5,000 in all.

Keep in mind, there were only 6,000 Yiddish recordings ever made in the United States, pre-1942; another 5,000 in pre-Holocaust Europe.

Pretty cool.

Read the full review.

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