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2008 JF


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Dr. Michael C. Steinlauf

Yiddish Tales and Klezmer Tunes
Scholar-in-residence Shabbat at Melrose B'nai Israel Emanu-El.

-- Ariana Burrows

Yiddish Tales and Klezmer Tunes is the theme of the Scholar-in-Residence Shabbat and Melava Malka to be presented on Saturday, February 23, 2008, at Melrose B'nai Israel Emanu-El (MBIEE), 133 W. Cheltenham Avenue in Cheltenham. The program, featuring Michael C. Steinlauf, Ph.D., is a Gratz College Adult Education Outreach Program funded by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Dr. Steinlauf, who is associate professor of history at Gratz College, writes and teaches about Jewish history and culture in Eastern Europe and Polish-Jewish relations. A contributing editor to the forthcoming YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, Dr. Steinlauf is editor of volume 16 of Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry (2003), which is devoted to Jewish popular culture in Poland and its afterlife. He also is the author of Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust (1997). His articles on Jewish theater and culture in Eastern Europe have been translated into Hebrew, Polish, German, and Italian. For the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is scheduled to open in Warsaw in 2010, Dr. Steinlauf serves as senior historical advisor and a member of the planning team.

During MBIEE's morning Shabbat program, which begins with Shaharit at 9:15 a.m., Dr. Steinlauf will give the keynote address on the topic, "The Art of Yiddish Storytelling." During the kiddush luncheon following services, congregants will join the synagogue's own Cantor Joshua Gordon in singing klezmer songs and will have the opportunity to chat with Dr. Steinlauf. The evening's Melava Malka program begins at 5:30 p.m. with Minha, Ma'ariv and Havdalah, and includes dinner, Yiddish songs performed by Cantor Gordon and a film by Dr. Steinlauf. Entitled The Musicians' Raft: New York to Sejny, the film captures the revival of Jewish culture that occurred in today's Poland through the introduction of klezmer music from New York. The evening will conclude with dessert and shmoozing.

In the summer of 2001, the Borderlands Foundation organized a nine-day program called The Musicians' Raft Between New York and Sejny. It brought together celebrated American klezmer musicians (David Krakauer, Michael Alpert, Stuart Brotman, Debra Strauss, Jeff Warshauer) and young non-Jewish Polish, Ukrainian, Transylvanian, and Belarussian musicians who wanted to learn Jewish music. Steinlauf was invited to lecture about Jewish culture in Eastern Europe. He lectured each morning (in Polish, with simultaneous translations to English and Hungarian), while the American musicians ran music workshops in the afternoon and evening.

The film that will be shown chronicles this nine day adventure. It features excerpts from concerts in Sejny and Vilnius, and interviews with the American instructors including Steinlauf. The Borderlands Foundation is located in the small town of Sejny in the far northeast corner of Poland, at the Lithuanian and Belarusian borders. The Foundation is dedicated to teaching about and honoring minority cultures in Poland, first and foremost Jewish culture. The town of Sejny before World War II was over half Jewish; the Borderlands Foundation has restored the beautiful town synagogue. Numerous Jewish communal buildings which are now used as galleries, performance spaces, and offices.

Please call the synagogue office (215-635-1505) to indicate you will attend MBIEE's morning Shabbat program and luncheon (at no charge) and for information about reservations for MBIEE's evening Melava Malka program. Questions about the scholar-in-residence program may be directed to education@mbiee.org.

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