If genetics count for anything, Judith Berkson’s career choice was foreordained. Her father is a cantor, her mother a pianist and, with her two sisters and one brother, the entire family formed a band that entertained at synagogues and JCCs in the Chicago area as she was growing up.
For any visitor to Dublin’s rustic Irish Jewish Museum, the warm-natured, red-bearded curator Raphael Siev was more than a familiar face: he was a fount of information and an admired Irish-Jewish leader.
Siev, 73, died of a short illness in the last week of January, during which he had insisted upon speaking at a Holocaust memorial event, The Independent newspaper in Dublin reported.
Dublin native Carl Nelkin synthesizes his dual musical heritages and releases an Irish-inflected Holocaust album.
Standing on the bima behind a golden menorah, an emerald green leprechaun read from the megillah last Purim, a plush green top hat perched on his head and a red Irish-chasidish beard glued onto his flushed cheeks.
If Mayer Davis needed proof that music can fill in the spaces between the words in our lives, he found it one Shabbat morning when, after leading the services as cantor at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side, he visited his ailing mother.
Esther Frankel Davis, whose husband, Avrum, is a well-known cantor, was by then seriously ill and no longer able to speak or recognize family members. But she loved when her son sang to her, and sometimes she would hum along, with eyes closed.
In 1980 he ran into Hankus Netsky, who was looking for a bass player for a new venture. Guttmann, a bassist, was "working at Rosie's Bakery" in Cambridge, Mass., so when Netsky asked if he was interested in playing Jewish music, he quickly replied in the affirmative although, he admits today, "I didn't know what he was talking about." He found out soon enough; the band had a concert two weeks later, at which Guttmann played.
Remembering the clarinetist who sparked the klez revival.
Special To The Jewish Week
Readers will no doubt recall a long-running advertising campaign for a fur company that posed famous women with the slogan, “What becomes a legend most?” Not, we grant, a campaign you’d be likely to see in these more animal-friendly days, but the question is a good one, “What becomes a legend most?”
If the legend is a musician, the answer is simple: play the music. Anything extra is nice, but nearly extraneous.
At the risk of sounding like Walter Cronkite, what kind of a year has it been in Jewish music? You wouldn’t know it from this annual compilation of five-star records — there are only eight this year, the fewest in the decade I’ve been doing this — but it’s been a very good year.
It’s common wisdom that the best comedy is essentially serious. Of course, clichés often have an underlying truth, so maybe that explains why Rob Tannenbaum, one half of the comedy-music duo Good for the Jews playing at the Highline Ball Room on Dec. 23, is both a very funny guy and yet someone who discusses his work in surprisingly sober terms.