After almost a year in Weimar I really should not be surprised about anything, but after finding myself sitting at marktplatz, one of Hitler’s favorite places, drinking beer, singing along with the crowd songs in Yiddish while a group of Germans attempt to dance the Hora behind me I felt that I better figure out what’s going on.
Hora dancing at Marktplatz, 2007 / Hitler speaking at Marktplatz, 1926
When a big guy with a big moustache started signings a Nachman Me’uman song, I knew that that he was the man i should approach to ask some questions. So, it turned out that I sat this guy is Lorin Sklamberg lead vocalist of Klezmatics, one of my much loved bands, and what was going on, was a jam session ofthe participants of the Yiddish Song Workshop, part of Yiddish Summer Weimar The largest Yiddish festival in Germany. The festival that started in 2000, invites musicians to teach Klezmer and holds workshops to hundreds of interested fans or amateur-musicians.
I went to the evening jam sessions all week, many of the musicians were amateur but there were still some moving moments, if not to say some humorous and surrealistic ones. During the sessions I also met Daniel Kahn, from the Berlin based band The painted Bird. He gave their album the Broken Tongue ×“×¢×¡ ×¦×¢×‘×¨××›×¢× ×¢ ×œ×©×•×Ÿ after I motioned that I organized I event saluting (link in hebrew) the Bund (“Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Lite, Poyln un Rusland” ) in Tel Aviv last year. We started a conversation about Yiddish/Hebrew/Zionist/Israeli culture and politics and found that we share many of the same ideas and are enthusiastic about similar stuff, so besides getting to know another great Jewish music band I feel I also met another comrade. Daniel describes his music as Alienation Klezmer, I’m not sure what that meant but I really liked his political cabaret attitude that was mixed with a folky klezmer flavor. He told me that when he was in Israel the owner of the club he played in asked why he was signing in a dead language. Oi! It really upsets me that young “progressive” Israelis still think in such archaic Zionist ways. I tried to encourage him but I think i was really trying to fool myself by describing the leftist/secular/Yiddish scene in Tel Aviv. But to be honest besides a few wonderful committed individuals I’m not really sure how much of a scene their really is. Unfortunately, i can’t imagine a Yiddish summer in Tel Aviv not to even motion Jerusalem. Ironically in Weimar dozens of young goyim participated nightly at a public outdoor jam session in Yiddish, signing old and new songs, in Tel Aviv I doubt if i could even find a minyan that could sing in Yiddish.
Lorin Sklamberg playing a lovely solo
Danial Kahn singing an old labaor struggle song
klezmer jam session