--However you spell it, that’s what this album is about!
Most people, if you ask them to name a Chanukah song, will tell you “I Have a Little Dreidel”, and not be able to go any further. Some will tell you the Hebrew songs “Mi Yemalel” or “Maoz Tsur”. On this recording you will find the finest Yiddish Chanukah songs I could find, including one from the earliest Yidish songbook published with melodies, from 1727, up to those written through the end of the 20th century. Also present are the original Yiddish versions of the above mentioned dreydl song and “Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah”. These may be the only tunes that are familiar to you, but don’t let that stop you listening. Some of you may remember these songs from when you went to Yiddish school, but I think most of you won’t know them at all. These are marvelous songs which deserve to be heard and not forgotten in a dusty book, moldering on a neglected shelf somewhere.
The musicians and I have shined up these buried treasures, and I have to tell you, I cannot sit still while listening to these tunes! For this reason, I have included instructions for dancing traditional old world Jewish dances that go with particular tunes in the 28-page booklet included with the CD. There are also brief biographies of the authors and composers, as well as a bit of interesting information about each song. I have also included illustrations that once graced the pages of old Yiddish school books for your enjoyment. As usual, you will find complete transliterations in Roman characters as well as the translations so you can sing along and learn some Yiddish at the same time!
The musicians on this album are some of the finest in the world playing in this traditional eastern European Jewish style. I hope you enjoy listening to this recording as much as I enjoyed making it. I would be happy to hear from you, so email me if you like.
I plan about a dozen more recordings in this series: Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Succot, Simchat Torah, Purim, Shabbat, etc., or as we’d say it in Yiddish—rosheshone, yom kipper, sukes, simkhes toyre, purim, shabes, uav.
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All proceeds from sales go into the 501 (c) 3 non-profit account that funds these Yiddish recordings. If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to this fund, please contact me at the Cleveland Workmen’s Circle Educational Center, 1980 South Green Road, South Euclid, OH 44121, 216 381-4515, or email me from this page.
My mission is to encourage the revitalization and renewal of Yiddish in American Jewish life, educating through the arts and introducing Yiddish to a new generation through enjoyable activities such as song, story, dance, games, theater, and cooking; and to disseminate the material, instilling a love for the culture in young children, families, and the larger community. I hope to make these beautiful Yiddish songs accessible to everyone, so that children, families and classroom teachers will want to listen and add them to their Jewish song repertoire. I include biographies of the authors and composers, background on the songs, instructions for accompanying games or dances, and both transliteration and translation for ease of sing-along and comprehension. I plan to record at least a dozen more Yiddish CDs on holiday and child-centric themes. My dream is that with the massive renewal efforts occurring among both Jewish and Gentile populations around the world, Jews will once again widely communicate in mame-loshn, speaking to their children and each other in a language that has endured for a thousand years.
Zol lebn yidish! Long live Yiddish!
LORI CAHAN-SIMON, internationally critically acclaimed singer/folklorist, sings with her own Yiddish and klezmer ensemble, with the Cleveland Workmen’s Circle Klezmer Orchestra, which performs at many local venues and at the annual Yiddish in the Park Concerts in Cleveland, with The Great American Gypsies, and with her award-winning R&R/R&B group, New Old School (N.O.S.). Director of the Workmen’s Circle I. L. Peretz School, and the I.L. Peretz School children's chorus, teacher of Yiddish Culture and Language through visual, performing, and culinary arts; and of Spanish, and Art. She has also created a listserve for Yiddish teachers. Lori has been singing since she could talk, professionally since the age of 14, performing and recording in many genres, and in countries and venues throughout the world ever since. Earned an M. A. in Art Education from Case Western Reserve U. and The Cleveland Institute of Art, and additional certification in Spanish from Cleveland State U. Studied voice privately, and with Margaret Eaves of the Cleveland Institute of Music and with Hazel Zehner of the Cleveland Music School Settlement, earning auditioned scholarship awards each year. Songwriter for Motown Records in Los Angeles, has sung in festivals, Atlantic City Casino showrooms, and venues in many countries. Featured performer on radio in the United States and Mexico, and has done much studio work in the U.S., including jingles, children's material, comedy, and in Rock, R&B, and Jazz styles. Selections from her non-profit Yiddish recordings: Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me, Volume One: Passover;, and Vessel of Song: The Music of Mikhl Gelbart, have been utilized as soundtrack music for film and radio projects. These, and N.O.S’s New Old Stock, are available from Lori.
WALT MAHOVLICH started out playing Croatian and Macedonian weddings with traditional village musicians at age 19 and began playing klezmer music in 1973. Has played frequent concert tours of Europe and North America. A featured artist at the Smithsonian's 1976 Festival of American Folklife, performed at Smotra Foklora in Zagreb, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and with the Canton Symphony Orchestra. Staff member at Buffalo on the Roof klezmer workshops; also a frequent staff member at Balkan music and dance camps. Toured and recorded with the European-based klezmer ensemble, Budowitz. Made off-Broadway debut in Tony Kushner's A Dybbuk, at New York's Public Theater. Currently leads the East European folk groups Harmonia and Turli Tava. Walt studied ethnomusicology at Sarajevo. He and produced the Unesco award winning album, Nova Domovina: Balkan Slavic Music from the Industrial Midwest, and has appeared on numerous recordings of klezmer and other East European recordings. Walt has been Lori’s musical partner and has collaborated with Lori on her other Yiddish recordings since 2000.
DAVID CHERNYAVSKY was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. He Began to study violin at the age of 6, and. At 11 David gave his first solo recital. In 1993, at 15, he entered the Special Music School of the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and began playing klezmer violin. In 1997 came to the U.S. to study at Indiana U. School of Music with renowned Professor Nelli Shkolnikova. In 1998 won the IU Concerto Competition and performed as a soloist with Indiana U. Concert Orchestra. In 2000 participated with his student quartet in the IU String Quartet competition and was awarded the Kuttner Quartet Scholarship. Graduated from IU In 2001. Continued his studies at Juilliard School in NYC; Masters in 2003. Joined the St. Petersburg String Quartet in 2003. Recently Assistant Concertmaster at the Washington National Opera in Washington, D.C., and now with the L.A. Philharmonic, David has won many competitions and prizes and has concertized around the world in both classical and klezmer music. He has participated in the St. Petersburg klezfests Klezkanada and other Jewish festivals. David has a solo klezmer violin recording, recorded a new CD with Joel Rubin in 2006.
ADRIANNE GREENBAUM known as the leading klezmer flutist performing today. Founder of FleytMuzik ensemble and The Klezical Tradition klezmer group, where she is also pianist and leader of Yiddish dance. On faculties of KlezKamp, KlezKanada and Klezmerquerque. Presented master classes and workshops in universities and conservatories across the US. FleytMuzik was a charter performer for their European debut at the KlezMore Festival in Vienna. Greenbaum has performed with Kapelye, collaborated with Lori-Cahan Simon on her acclaimed Gelbart album and performed with numerous cantors as both pianist and flutist. Recently commissioned to compose Friday night klezmer service, last performed in Bethesda, MD. The Klezical Tradition’s accolades include Top 10 CD’s from Moment Magazine and NY Jewish Week and a feature in the ABC-TV documentary A Sacred Noise. FleytMuzik was nominated for Best Album in 83 countries in the Just Plain Folks Indy awards; Classical album, Sounds of America, was featured on NPR’s Performance Today. Received degrees from Oberlin (BM) and Yale (MM). After many years with the NYC Ballet Orchestra she is currently Principal Flutist with the New Haven Symphony and Associate Professor at Mount Holyoke College.
ALEXANDER FEDORIOUK began playing cimbalom (tsimbl in Yiddish) at age seven in Kolomyia, Ukraine. Pursuing his music passion, received Bachelor’s degree in music from Kiev State Conservatory, division of folk instruments; and Associates degree in Music from State Musical College, Chernivtsy. Master’s degree in ethnomusicology from Cleveland State U. Alexander has performed and recorded as a soloist with several Ukrainian and American ensembles, such as Cheres and Harmonia. Appeared in the Ukrainian musical movies, Pisne Kalynova and Namysto Dlia Berehyni, and received awards at the national competition on folk instruments in 1987 and 1991 in Ukraine, and in Nebraska in 1997. Alexander has toured through Ukraine, U.S., and Canada performing at such concert halls as the United Nations General Assembly Hall, Kennedy Arts Center in Washington, D.C., and Carnegie Hall. Featured as a soloist on a number of recordings and performances, including projects with Nigel Pulsford of Bush, Erik Friedlander and Topaz, Herbie Mann with Sonna Terra, and John Cale of Velvet Underground. Performed with Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Columbus Orchestras in Lord of the Rings symphony tour.
HENRY SHAPIRO studied jazz performance and arranging at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. Though well known as a performer of swing music with his band Swing Fever, he has been a member of various folk music groups encompassing Traditional American, Bluegrass, Calypso, and Latin, Hasidic, and English Country Dance music styles, as well as composing film scores. He is the leader of Pittsburgh-based Steel City Klezmorim. His debut album, Whatever Swings, named best jazz album of the year in 1994 by Pittsburgh Newsweekly. Has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland and toured in Europe. Shapiro has been informed by knowledgeable sources that he sings Yiddish with a heavy American accent.
Who plays what on which tracks:
Lori Cahan-Simon: Vocals, all tracks, handclaps (9)
Walt Mahovlich: accordion (all but 12, 14, 15), vocal (1) Adrianne Greenbaum: flute (all but 1, 4, 5, 10, 12), piccolo (1, 2), viola (5, 17), piano (12), vocal (1)
David Chernyavsky: violin (all but 4, 12, 14), bass (14), vocal (1)
Henry Shapiro: bass (all but 4, 10, 12, 14), guitar (10, 14,), handclaps (9), vocals (1, 3)
Alex Fedoriouk: cimbalom (3, 7, 13, 15, 17), poyk - bass drum and cymbal (2, 9,), snare (1)
I.L. Peretz school chorus: Matthew Greminger, Jeanne Greminger, Cameron Godfrey, Zoe Herzenstein.
Recorded at the Cleveland Workmen’s Circle, July 5–8, 2006, Big Shot Recording Mobile Studio
Producer: Lori Cahan-Simon
Recording Engineer: Henry Shapiro
Editing & Mixing: Henry Shapiro & Lori Cahan-Simon
Mastering: Dino DiStefano
Liner notes: Lori Cahan-Simon
Booklet layout: Merle Levy
CD Duplication: Oasis
Translations: Lori Cahan-Simon, Gella Fishman, and input from many friends.
Cover, tray and CD artwork: Peggy Davis and Yosl Kurland
This recording is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Irving Sunshine of Beachwood, Ohio, world-renowned pioneer and developer of the field of toxicology for more than half a century. I was fortunate to be able to call him friend, and was often the beneficiary of his sage advice and kind help. His constant support of my programs and goals helped make possible this and previous recordings.
Dr. Sunshine was devoted to Yiddish and worked to preserve the language, and the ideals of social justice often associated with it, through the Cleveland Workmen's Circle, endowing the scholarship fund for its I. L. Peretz Sunday School, where Yiddish is taught. He often attended Yiddish programs and provided a subsidy to one of the monthly Café Kasrilevke programs of Yiddish of Greater Washington to make it free to the entire community. Dr. Sunshine made a large benefaction to the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA, establishing an annual program in memory of his first wife, Helen. He bequeathed a major donation to the Siegel College of Jewish Studies in Cleveland to support the study and use of Yiddish, as well as to many other Cleveland area Jewish organizations. Dr. Sunshine was an inveterate international traveler, an enthusiastic patron of the arts, an ardent fan of live theater, an avid gardener, a teacher, a gantse makher, a mentsh and a sheyner yid. His sons, Jonathan and Carl, as well as their families and friends, continue good works on behalf of Yiddish in his name. He is greatly missed by all whose lives he touched.