Posts tagged Jewish.

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Crimean-born Tamara Filyavich on Shtetl

Show airs at 11AM in Montreal on CKUT 90.3 FM. Check back here in a couple of hours for the podcast. Tamara Filyavich was 3 years old in this picture taken in the city of Yalta in Crimea where she was born. For 20 years she’s lived in Montreal. Today on Shtetl we talk Ukraine, being a Jew in the Soviet Union, Crimea, “integrating” into Canadian life and Quebec’s Charter of Secular Values. Tune in for this conversation plus, lots of Ukrainian music- from traditional to ska.

Listen online!

I was a very hated kid. Remember, it was the years of Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire speech, all those movies: Red Dawn, Red Gerbil, Red Hamster… and I felt like I was the Big Red Kid. My parents had expected that after the anti-semitism of Russia that kids were going to love me because I was Jewish, but that’s not how it worked out at all. I was Russian in their eyes; I had a big fur coat and big fur hat and I was clearly the enemy.

So I decided to write a satire of the Torah. We were all being force fed the Torah and the Talmud and the kids had to chant and memorize this stuff that didn’t mean really anything to many of us. So I wrote my own version of the Torah which was called the Gnorah; Exodus became Sexodus, you know, all that kind of stuff. It was a very raunchy, horny kind of book that only an 11- or 12-year-old could write. And it became… I wasn’t popular exactly, but my first friends were made because of that. Other kids felt that there was a kind of, ‘Oh, this guy has something to show us.’

Gary Shteyngart, on arriving in Queens and enrolling in Hebrew school [x]

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  February 08, 2014 at 03:49pm via BuzzFeed

The Shofar Blower

by Kadya Molodowsky

The shofar blower keens a melody,
An old melody to God.
Above him—
A sky without stars,
Primordial darkness lost in darkness,
The shofar blower keens a melody:
Teki’ah, Teru’ah, Shebarim.

The blackness—a wind, a wall,
There is no congregation,
No quorum at all.
The shofar blower keens a melody,
An old melody:

Near him, an extinguished thorn,
As he stares into even blacker darkness,
The shofar blower keens a melody,
An old melody,
And waits—
The thorn shall begin to burn,
A flame shall inscribe on a wall.
Above him, a sky without stars,
And primordial darkness,
And deadly venom.
But this does not interrupt,
Does not silence the horn:

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The Cheburashka Project

The purpose of this project is to examine a generation of Russian Jewish immigrants who came to the U.S. as children in the late ’80s and early ’90s. This generation uniquely absorbed several worlds of influence during its formative years- the impact of a Soviet Russian background, the experience of immigration, an immersion into American culture, and a shift in what it means to be a Jew. As this group becomes the first generation of Russian Jewish adults raised in America, they will both set the tone for their communities and represent them in the larger American cultural landscape.

The goal is to create a portrait of this generation through two methods:
- survey a subsection of the U.S. Russian Jewish population who came to the U.S. as children (participate in the survey!)
- feature individuals representing diverse experiences and perspectives in a short documentary film

Eugene Abeshaus, "Adam ate and ate fruit that Eve gave him, but doesn’t know anything" (1977)

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Eugene Abeshaus, "He had no other place in the world" (1977)

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A Socalled Musical

Music & Lyrics by Josh Dolgin AKA Socalled
Book by Derek Goldman

Based on the stories of Isaak Babel

Translated by Miriam Hoffman

Directed by Audrey Finkelstein

A Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre Production

“Let’s talk about Benya Krik. 
He was not always the King… How did he become the King, and why does it matter to us?”

A new tradition is born when the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre meets the vision of Klezmer-pop superstar Socalled in this new Yiddish musical based on the stories of renowned writer Isaak Babel. Step into the colourful underworld of Odessa in the last days of the Russian Empire, where mob boss Benya “The King” Krik reigns over the bustling Jewish neighborhood of Moldavanka. Chronicling the shady adventures of this anti-hero and his rise to power, this wholly original musical tale will take you back to a forgotten world of smugglers, peddlers and gangsters, where the dreams of one man reflect the emancipation of a whole population.

You should probably check this out if you’re in/around Montreal!

more info // BUY TICKETS

  June 06, 2013 at 09:20pm

"Sometimes children were forced to perform antireligious actions in school that were organized in the form of a game. Many respondents reported that the idea of Passover was connected with various unconventional activities. Samuil G., who took part in these events in a shtetl in the Ukraine, remembers:

[W]e had many interesting activities taking place in [Yiddish] school. First, older children, the komyugistn [Komsomol members] would come to conduct some activities for us. They explained how religion oppressed the masses in other countries. We played many interesting games together. For example, on the first day of Passover, they would gather us together and give each of us ten pieces of bread. We were given the task of going to Jewish houses and throwing a piece into the window of ten different houses. The one who was the fastest would receive a prize. We enjoyed the game very much, especially when the old, angry women came out of their houses and ran after us screaming ‘Apikorsim!’ [‘Heretics!’]. We felt like heroes of the revolution and were very proud. But in the evening we would all go home and celebrate the traditional seder with all the necessary rituals.”

— Anna Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (2006), p. 41.

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  April 01, 2013 at 11:10am

Despite the antireligious content of the Red seders, they were distinctly Jewish events, organized for Jews, by Jews, and, equally important, they were conducted in Yiddish. Even the building in which the event took place was frequently a former synagogue. Most Jews did not perceive these activities as anti-Jewish. They saw them as Soviet Jewish events, created for their entertainment, and also as traditional holidays. Even after the most successful Red seders, which were attended by large audiences, the majority would go home and celebrate traditional Passover seders. Furthermore, those who conducted the Red seder often hurried to conclude the event since their families were waiting for them at home to celebrate the traditional seder.

Anna Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (2006), p. 39.

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  March 31, 2013 at 03:42pm

Mi asapru, mi adabru,
Hey, hey, lomche dreydl,
Ver ken visn, ver ken tseyln
Vos dos eynts batayt, vos dos eynts batayt
Eyner iz Karl Marx, un Marx iz eyner,
Un mer nit keyner.

Vos dos tsvey batayt, vos dos tsvey batayt
Tsvey iz Lenin-Trotsky
Un eyner iz der Karl Marx,
Un Marx iz eyner, un mer nit keyner.

Vos dos dray batayt, vos dos dray batayt
Dray iz internatsional, tsvey iz Lenin Trotsky,
Eynts iz Karl Marx, un Marx iz keyner, un mer nit keyner.

Who will tell me, who will say
Hey, hey, turn the dreidel
Who can know, who can count
What does one mean, what does one mean?
One is Karl Marx, Marx is one
There is no one else.

What does two mean, what does two mean?
Two is Lenin-Trotsky
One is Karl Marx,
Marx is one, and there is no one else.

What does three mean, what does three mean?
Three means Internationals, two means Lenin-Trotsky,
One is Karl Marx, and there is not one more.

Efim G. remembers a song of the Red Seder conducted in his shtetl of Parichi. Oral testimony in Anna Shternshis’ Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (2006), p. 37-8.

"This song is a parody of a traditional Passover song. The original words say ‘One is God, two are two scrolls of Torah, given to the Jews on the mount of Zion, and three are the number of the Jewish fathers [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob].’ Efim G. actually thought that this was a Soviet Jewish song. He did not know that this was an adaption of a much older Jewish song until he came to the United States in 1989, where he was invited to a traditional Passover dinner."

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  March 27, 2013 at 01:30pm