--- Begin Message ---
I wish to thank you for the donation of two cassettes and 2 CD's to our
collection and for the loan of other materials. The exhibit is up. I am
enclosing a copy of the press release and the article where I mention your
For Immediate Release
December 24, 1999
Contact : Daniel D. Stuhlman, Librarian 847-982-2500 ext. 120
Klezmer Music Comes to the Saul Silber Memorial
Library of Hebrew Theological College
Thanks to a recent anonymous gift of over 150 CD's and cassette tapes, the
Saul Silber Memorial Library of Hebrew Theological College, Skokie, IL has
a new collection of klezmer music. Klezmer music is happy Jewish folk
music with roots in the Eastern European Jewish community. Many famous
entertainers such as Benny Goodman, George Jessel, Eddie Cantor, and George
Gershwin made significant contributions to klezmer music. The recordings
include both remastered 78's and contemporary bands. Most of the recordings
were released in the past 8 years. The exhibit will open on January 3,
2000 and closes on January 31, 2000. The exhibit includes historical
materials loaned from the collections of well-known Chicago klezmer
musician and historian, Ruby Harris and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band.
The klezmer music exhibit is part of a larger Jewish music exhibit, which
includes Yiddish theater music and chazanut. This part of the exhibit
includes recent gifts of recordings and sheet music from Chazzan Abraham
Mendelsberg, formerly of Congregation K.I.N.S.
The Saul Silber Memorial Library is the academic library of Hebrew
Theological College and a research library in Judaica. The Library has
over 63,000 items in the main library, Bet Midrash collection, and Anne
Blitstein Teachers Institute collection.
Important collections include rabbinics, Jewish law, Talmud commentaries,
Jewish thought, and Jewish history. The Library is a member of North
Suburban Library System and the Association of Jewish Libraries.
The exhibit may be viewed in the reading room of the Saul Silber Memorial
Library of Hebrew Theological College (3rd floor of the administration
building) during Library hours: Sunday 9:15-12:15; Monday -Thursday
9:00-5:00; Friday 9:00-1:30.
by Daniel D. Stuhlman
I received a call from a lawyer about a woman who died without children and
had a 1000 recent Judaica books in her apartment. The lawyer wanted to
the Library was interested. I made an appointment to examine the
When I arrived I saw boxes and boxes containing music CDs, cassette tapes
video tapes on the floor. The shelves were full of books. Since the
no CDs and few music tapes, I started to look for the Jewish tapes. I was
excited about the recordings than the books. I took three boxes of them
the Library and left most of the books. Most of the tapes were still in
shrink wraps, unopened and never played. Evidently the woman liked to buy
them more than play them. I was never told the name of the woman. The
executor of the estate wanted no thank you letter.
A Confidential Recording
Think back to the mid-1950's. How would someone distribute information to a
large audience without writing it in the newspapers, magazines, TV or radio?
Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, vice-president of the United Jewish Appeal had
problem. In the sleeve of a children's record from one of recent gifts was
inch 33 1/3 record labeled: Special report, by Herbert A. Friedman.
Highly Confidential. No part of this recording may be broadcast, published
reported in the press.
This recording reported on the difficult situation in Poland in 1955-56.
to the American Jewish Year Book the Jewish population of post-war Poland was
impossible to determine with great accuracy. In the late 1940's 30,000
Zionist party members emigrated to Israel. Over 25,000 refugees who spent
war years in the Soviet Union returned to Poland. Poland was not a safe
Jews after the war. There were anti-Semitic attacks and pograms.1
Stalin's death in 1953 and new leadership in Poland in 1956 eased some of the
tensions between the Jews and the rest of the population. Poland freely
visas to Jews. This recording is a report of private and secret activities
of the UJA
in 1956. The recording mentions activities by months but not the year. I
assuming the year was 1956, based on the events as reported in the American
Jewish Year Book and Encyclopedia Judaica. The UJA was afraid that if the
emigration was reported in the press, the Polish authorities would stop the
The problem that the UJA had was money. Rabbi Friedman said that it costs
about $1000 to save each person. He asks for money to save the remaining
Poland. He tells of Jews leaving Poland by train, ship and airplane. They
sometimes leaving at more than 1,000 per week. Rabbi Friedman says over
Jews left Poland. The American Jewish Year Book 1959 reports that 30,000
left Poland between 1956 and 1957. Whole towns were emptied of Jews.
This story of Polish emigration has not been told in great detail. Rabbi
Friedman's recording is an interesting historical document, shedding light
methodology of fund raising and the Jewish situation in Poland in the
Two exhibit cases of the Jewish music are now displaying materials related to
klezmer music. Klezmer music has its roots in Eastern European Jewish folk
music. The musical sounds frequently include a glissando2, which is a
that blends all the sounds between the first and second note. Klezmer is
peppy and upbeat. It has an improvisational component like jazz. Classic
instruments used by Klezmer musicians are the clarinet, violin and hammered
dulcimer (This is a type of keyboard instrument that uses a hammer to strike
strings. It is called tsimbal in Yiddish or Czech). Contemporary Klezmer
use almost any instrument found in a symphonic band or orchestra. Klezmer
musicians played for weddings, parties and other happy occasions. Some
even played for non-Jewish functions because they were so good. However,
socially they were not respected. Leonard Bernstein's father once told him
become a Klezmer musician. The frelichs and other wedding dances have roots
in the Eastern European Klezmer tradition. The Chicago area has two bands
are important in the revival of the Klezmer tradition, the Ruby Harris
and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. Ruby Harris once played with the
Diaspora Yeshiva Band, an early Jewish Rock group / Klezmer group. The
Maxwell Street Klezmer Band has performed locally, nationally and in Europe.
They are famous for the big band sound.
Klezmer music contrasts with the central European music of the Chazzan and
choir. The controlled precise sound of the chazzan came from training,
experience and connection to the tefilah. Improvisation was limited. While
Chazzan may sing outside of the synagogue, his sound was always more formal
than the klezmer.
The Library display has samples from our music collection, sheet music
from the collection of Ruby Harris), and other materials loaned from the
Street Klezmer Band and the Highland Park Public Library.
1. On Aug. 11, 1945 in Cracow and in Kielce on July 4, 1946 thousands of
Polish people ran amuck through the Jewish quarters and injured or
killed Jews. In 1945 352 Jews were reported murdered for anti-Semitic
reasons. By the end of 1947
only about 100,000 Jews remained in Poland.
2. One famous glissando is the clarinet solo at the beginning of Gershwin's
Rhapsody in Blue.
--- End Message ---