A 4,000-person Yiddish sing-along will take place in Central Park this summer


(New York Jewish Week) — This summer, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to hear their favorite Yiddish songs under the stars — and sing along at the same time.

“New York Sings Yiddish,” a free concert of Yiddish music featuring The Klezmatics and more, will be performed in Central Park on June 14 at 7 p.m. as part of Capital One City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage series. There have been many other Yiddish concerts as part of this longstanding, free-of-charge NYC summer tradition, but this year, for the first time ever, the concert will be a massive sing-along — the Yiddish lyrics to each song will be projected onto a giant screen and accessible through a QR code on audience members’ phones. 

Presented in partnership with the National Yiddish Theater Folksbiene and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and supported by the Workers Circle, a slew of well-known Yiddish musicians are slated to perform, including Joshua “SoCalled” Dolgin, Lea Kalisch, Cantor Magda Fishman, Sara Mina Gordon, Cantor Netanel Hershtik, Elmore James, Daniel Kahn and Eleanor Reissa.

“It’s completely new this year,” Workers Circle CEO Ann Toback told the New York Jewish Week of the sing-along. “It used to be an organic sing-along because the audience had grown up on many of these songs. Today, we’re really looking at new generations, many of whom are interested in Yiddish or love Yiddish music or are intrigued by Yiddish music, but they didn’t grow up on these songs. How much fun is it that this year’s concert is providing a tool so we can continue this tradition of coming together and singing these inspirational inherited songs?”

In addition to audience participation, the concert — arranged by Zalmen Mlotek, musical director at the Folksbiene, and klezmer superstar Frank London — also celebrates the launch of the newly digitized Yosl and Chana Mlotek Song Collection. The project from The Workers Circle digitized five anthologies of Yiddish songs from Chana Mlotek, the longtime ethnomusicologist at YIVO who died in 2013, and her husband, Yosl, who worked as the education director for the Workers Circle and managing editor for the Forvertz, who died in 2000. (And, yes, Yosl and Chana Mlotek are the parents of the Folksbiene’s director.) 

“On this special evening, New York will celebrate its Yiddish heritage and soul with some of our most brilliant musical stars — and under the stars,” Zalmen Mlotek said in a press release. “We invite all New Yorkers to come together in Central Park for a wonderful concert filled with Klezmer artistry and Yiddish theater gems for a memorable night.”

Entrance to the free, two-hour concert is first-come, first-served, with doors opening at 6 p.m. Attendees should enter at the Central Park entrance on 72nd St. and 5th Ave. Find more information here.