photo by Dale Pearlman © 2009

CONTACT / STAFF

Judy Kunofsky, Executive Director
Email: info[at]klezcalifornia.org
Phone: 415 789 7679
Postal address: 1728 Allston Way, Berkeley CA 94703

MISSION, VISION, VALUES, & STRATEGIES

MISSION

KlezCalifornia is a living resource that connects people and communities with Yiddish culture.

VISION

  • Yiddish culture actively engages individuals and families in Yiddish language, arts, crafts, literature, klezmer music, theater, Yiddish song and dance, and the enjoyment of Eastern European Jewish food. 
  • Yiddish cultural activities are regularly part of community centers, synagogues, schools, and ethnic music and dance gatherings.
  • Yiddish cultural activities are presented regularly in community arts venues and considered to be one element of world music.
  • Yiddish cultural events attract people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.
  • Yiddish culture is shared and taught by a growing number of enthusiastic leaders. 
  • Jewish people, whether affiliated or not, have meaningful Jewish experiences through encounters with Yiddish culture.
  • Jewish youth appreciate and embrace Yiddish heritage throughout their cultural and religious education.
  • KlezCalifornia continues to play a significant role in building a vibrant Bay Area community to promote and celebrate Yiddish culture, creating continuity among generations.

VALUES/ASSUMPTIONS

  • Yiddish culture brings people closer to Jewish life and Jewish identity.
  • Yiddish culture contributes to the rich cultural mix in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Yiddish culture, interacting with other cultures, benefits artists and the arts.
  • Yiddish cultural engagement acknowledges and activates the legacy of accumulated traditions, heritage and wisdom.
  • Yiddish culture will thrive when people actively participate in performances and events.

STRATEGIES

  • Produce Yiddish cultural events, including those listed in the Programs section below, throughout the nine-county Bay Area.
  • Publicize related cultural events through email and newsletters to Bay Area residents interested in Yiddish culture (2,200 subscribers as of 2016). 
  • Identify and link Yiddish culture bearers with each other and with the region’s creative communities.
  • Connect individuals with each other and with important Yiddish teachers and culture-bearers. 
  • Expand the involvement of those engaged in a particular element of Yiddish culture, encouraging them to explore a broader range of Yiddish cultural expression.
  • Attract people new to Yiddish culture through performing arts and interdisciplinary activities.
  • Incorporate Yiddish culture into Jewish education programs for both youth and adults.
  • Encourage participation from both Jews and non-Jews. 
  • Continue to explore new collaborations with related organizations.
  • Catalyze and serve as a resource for creative projects.
  • Act as a resource for performing artists, through performance opportunity information, networking and fiscal sponsorship.
  • Continue to develop joyful and creative ways to keep Yiddish culture vital and active.

PROGRAMS

  • Yiddish Culture Festivals
  • Cabarets By The Bay and other concert presentations, several each year at a variety of locations
  • Tam: Tastes of Yiddish Culture in-school education programs and presentations for Jewish kids and teens at religious schools, day schools, and day camps
  • Klezmer Workshops and Jams in the East Bay, Palo Alto, and San Francisco
  • Yiddish Conversation Salons for fluent Yiddish speakers
  • Zingeray Yiddish song-sharing sessions
  • Yiddish language, history and culture workshops
  • Yiddish theater and performing arts projects
  • free monthly eNewsletter, sent to 2,200 people, with a Bay Area region-wide calendar of klezmer and Yiddish-inspired events
  • KlezCalifornia Geleh (yellow) Pages, extensive directory of Bay Area Yiddish culture resources
  • Fiscal Sponsorship services for a range of projects involving Jewish and related cultures
  • Production or co-presentation services for many additional kinds of Tastes of Yiddish Culture, including musical and theatrical performances, lectures, sing-alongs, and dance parties
Yiddish culture encompasses the language, arts, and customs of 1,000 years of Jewish community life across Eastern Europe. The Holocaust destroyed Jewish life in most of these places, yet the past forty years have witnessed a revival of many artistic and cultural components of pre-Holocaust life, such as klezmer music, song, food, calligraphy, paper cutting, film, and folklore, as well as short stories, poetry, and theater (in their original language and in translation). Klezmer dance, although almost lost, is being taught again and enjoyed at community celebrations and weddings. Yiddish culture enriches the lives of those involved. Many events appeal to all ages, bringing generations together. Yiddish culture connects many who are disconnected from other community offerings with the Jewish past and a future they may help create. Accessible to Jews and non-Jews alike, Yiddish culture provides something for everyone in interfaith families. As the heyday of Jewish life in Eastern Europe fades into the distant past, its artistic and cultural legacy will thrive as each generation learns, develops, and teaches it.

photo by Dale Pearlman © 2009

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

  • Gerry Tenney, President
  • Laura S. Rosenberg, Chair
  • Talia Shaham, Vice-President, Vice-Chair
  • Judith Kunofsky, Executive Director, Treasurer, Secretary
  • Ed Anisman
  • Peter Bonos
  • Joshua Horowitz
  • Rosie Kaplan
  • Tony Phillips
  • Laura Sheppard 
See Brief Biographies of Board Members

ADVISORY COUNCIL

Organizations specified for identification purposes only

IN SPECIAL MEMORY

Zikhroynem l'vrokheh.