Sunday, December 23, 2012

One Small Step for Yiddishkeit

I have to say that I was pleased to see on Google Analytics that my article about the reissue of the complete recordings of Hasidic New Wave provided a nice little bump in the numbers for my national site on I have written about Hasidic New Wave here on this site once before. I had just seen Michael Tilson Thomas' The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater at Davies Symphony Hall, and set me to all sorts of speculations about Yiddish Theater in general. The fact is, however, that I have never actually seen first-hand a Yiddish Theater production; and my guess is that this is also true of anyone reading this.

On the other hand the concept of Yiddishkeit itself has been surfacing recently in my writing, due primarily to occasions for writing about the music of Paul Schoenfield. In particular, in writing about Schoenfield, I found I had to explain the concept of freylakh, just as I felt that I could not write about Hasidic New Wave without offering some explanatory remarks about Hasidism itself. The bottom line is that, in the spirit of the old Levy's rye bread advertising campaign (an example of which was included in my article), you don't have to be Jewish to catch the spirit of Yiddishkeit. MTT operated under this premise in tracing his personal family roots back to Yiddish Theater and presenting the result to a culturally diverse audience; and the value of Hasidic New Wave was that they offered up a new way to perform jazz, rather than a new approach to the practice of Hasidism.

Nevertheless, a cross-cultural appreciation of Yiddishkeit appears to be on a decline; and I have to confess to feeling a tinge of nostalgic regret over this "new world order."

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