yiddish book center

Marisa Scheinfeld

  Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld grew up in New York’s Catskills region, not far from its legendary resorts of the Borscht Belt, a name derived from the area’s popularity with Jews from the New York region who for years were not welcome at many other vacation spots.

For much of the 20th century the Borscht Belt was a thriving vacation destination, home to hundreds of hotels and motels, from famed high-end resorts such as Grossinger’s and the Concord to modest bungalow colonies. In its heyday, the area was known especially for its nightlife, with top comedians and other performers appearing regularly there.

By the time Scheinfeld was growing up there in the 1980s and ‘90s, however, economic and other factors had sent the region into rapid decline, leading many of the hotels and clubs to close. For the past five years, Scheinfeld has documented that decline through a series of evocative, sometimes ghostly large-scale images of dozens of empty hotels.

An exhibit of that work, Echoes from the Borscht Belt: Contemporary Photographs by Marisa Scheinfeld, is at the Yiddish Book Center’s Brechner Gallery.

  Now in its fourth year, Yidstock celebrates the best of klezmer and new Yiddish music with a wide-ranging lineup of concerts that demonstrate the diversity and breadth of the genre, along with workshops, talks, and other programs.

Headlined by the legendary Klezmatics, this year’s lineup also includes the Yiddish Art Trio, Klezperanto, the Yidstock All-stars, Socalled, and Sklamberg & the Shepherds.

Yidstock Artistic Director Seth Rogovoy, author of The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover's Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music is here to tell us more along with Lisa Newman - Director of Communications at the Yiddish Book Center.


Since its formation in 1980 the Klezmer Conservatory Band has performed concerts from coast to coast. In April of 1990, it made its debut tour abroad, performing several concerts in Germany and giving a performance at the first-ever International Yiddish Festival in Krakow, Poland. The band has toured Europe regularly, and has also appeared at Australia's Adelaide Festival, New Zealand's International Festival of the Arts and Womad.


Over his extensive career, Tracy Kidder has written some enormously popular books including his Pulitzer Prize and National Book of the Year award winning The Soul of a New Machine. Other bestsellers include Among Schoolchildren, Old Friends, and My Detachment. He has also written extensively about this region in his classic books: House and Home Town.


As we have been hearing, The Yiddish Book Center has been working to tell the whole Jewish story by rescuing, translating and disseminating Yiddish books and that broaden understanding of modern Jewish identity.

Given that a main goal of the center is to translate Yiddish literature into English, we meet Sebastian Schulman - the Translation Projects Coordinator at the Yiddish Book Center. An alum of the Yiddish Book Center's Steiner Summer Yiddish Program, he began learning Yiddish in 2004 and is a published literary translator.

Sebastian is also a PhD Candidate in Jewish History at Indiana University and teaches courses at Hampshire and Smith Colleges.


The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is a busy place today as they are holding a Free Fun Friday till 4 pm, sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation. Free admission to the Museum includes films, storytimes, and activities.

The Carle’s current exhibitions, Harriet the Spy Turns Fifty, Simms Taback: Art by Design and The Art of Eric Carle & Friends: What's Your Favorite Animal? are all part of today’s event.


Josh Lambert is the Academic Director of the Yiddish Book Center and Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of American Jewish Fiction: A JPS Guide (2009) and Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture (2014), which won a Canadian Jewish Book Award in Jewish Thought and Culture. He serves as contributing editor to Tablet, and publishes reviews and essays in publications including Haaretz, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the Globe & Mail, and the Forward.

  Hankus Netsky is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and ethnomusicologist. He chairs the Contemporary Improvisation Departments at the New England Conservatory. Netsky is founder and director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, an internationally renowned Yiddish music ensemble, and serves as research director of the Klezmer Conservatory Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of traditional Eastern European Jewish music. He has taught Yiddish music at New England Conservatory, Hebrew College, McGill University, and Wesleyan University and has lectured extensively on the subject in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He has also designed numerous Yiddish culture exhibits for the Yiddish Book Center, where he served as Vice President for Education.


 When we bring The Roundtable on the road to visit a place we want to cover the whole place - the whole region. But, we can’t possibly feature every interesting organization and business in the Pioneer Valley on our puny three-hour show.

So - we have invited Suzanne Beck to speak with us. She’s the Executive Director of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce.


Yidstock 2014: The Festival of New Yiddish Music will bring to the stage at the Yiddish Book Center the top names in Klezmer and new Yiddish music.

The bands include the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Nigunim Trio, the Klezmatics, Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird and Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars with Eleanor Reissa.

Also on the bill are Yiddish dance workshops, Yiddish song workshops, lectures, and more. The idea for Yidstock was conceived by Susan Bronson who launched the annual festival in 2012. She joins us along with Seth Rogovoy, who is the program organizer for Yidstock and Yiddish Book Center's Founder and President, Aaron Lansky.


 We start off our Yidstock 2014 broadcast from The Yiddish Book Center with an abbreviated Roundtable panel and welcome our host for the morning - The Yiddish Book Center's Founder and President, Aaron Lansky, and our regular panelist, political consultant and panel roadie – Libby Post.

WAMC is proud to present a special edition of The Roundtable with a live broadcast from The Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts on Friday, July 18th from 9 a.m. to noon.  The Yiddish Book Center is hosting “Yidstock 2014: the Festival of New Yiddish Music” and The Roundtable Panel will discuss the festival along with other attractions in the Amherst area. 


The internationally acclaimed and Grammy Award-winning Klezmatics have been performing around the world since their first appearance in New York in 1986. Blending instrumental and vocal virtuosity and experimentation with theatricality firmly rooted in klezmer and Yiddish tradition, the Klezmatics brought the revival of klezmer into the rock era.

This Saturday, November 16 at 8 PM The Klezmatics will perform at The Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, MA, presented by The Yiddish Book Center. Lorin Sklamberg performs lead vocals, accordion, guitar, and piano in The Klezmatics.