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Teachers and Performers


Zachary Baker is the Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections in the Stanford University Libraries, and previously (1987 - 1999) Head Librarian of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, in New York City. His presentation on Shabbes afternoon is a spinoff from talks he gave in 2001 at KlezKamp about Yiddish publishing since 1945.


(Berkeley) Sharon Jan Bernstein (voice, piano) lived in New York, Jerusalem and Italy before returning home to the Bay Area, where she serves as the Cantor of Congregation Sha'ar Zahav. She has presented her rare Yiddish repertoire in Europe, Israel and the U.S. in venues including the Ancona Jewish Music Festival, RAI National Italian Radio, Yung Yidish, Habimah Theatre Jerusalem, Berkeley Jewish Music Festival, World Congress of Jewish Studies, Makor, Center for Jewish History and the 92nd Street Y. She has taught Yiddish song in Jerusalem, Vilnius Summer Yiddish Program and at previous KlezCalifornia events. Her repertoire mixes less known or never performed songs (most notably from the Noy Collection) with new compositions such as those by Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, organized according to subtle and captivating themes. Her "delightfully clear voice" (J. Pinnolis, jmwc.org) can be heard in Beyle Schaechter Gottesman's Af Di Gasn Fun Der Shtot (2003).


(Berkeley) Educator, writer, and Yiddish translator, Ken Blady was born in Paris and grew up in Hasidic Brooklyn, where he attended yeshiva and rabbinical seminary. A Bay Area resident since 1972, Ken has a B.A. in History from the U.C. Berkeley, and an M.A. in Educational Psychology from Cal State University East Bay. He is author of The Jewish Boxers’ Hall of Fame and Jewish Communities in Exotic Places, and translator of The Journeys of David Toback and Remembrance. A popular lecturer on a variety of Jewish themes at colleges, synagogues, elderhostels, and adult educational institutions, Ken has been featured on radio and television talk shows, including the Voice of Israel and The History Channel documentary, Operation Magic Carpet. He is a lecturer in Jewish history on the faculty of American Jewish University’s Whizen Center, Bel Air; Cal State University East Bay, Concord, OLLI program; and Diablo Valley College’s Emeritus College, Walnut Creek.


Berkeley) Stu Brotman is an internationally-known musician who plays the string bass, basy (cello), tilinca (shepherd's flute) and baraban (Jewish bass drum). He has been a moving force in the klezmer revival, produced the Klezmorim's Grammy-nominated album, Metropolis, and has performed with the Klezmorim, Kapelye, Andy Statman, Klezmer Conservatory Band, Veretski Pass, and Itzhak Perlman. He has been recording, touring, and teaching New Jewish Music with world-class ensemble Brave Old World since 1989. With a grant from the Creative Work Fund, Stu and the two other members of Veretski Pass (Joshua Horowitz and Cookie Segelstein) have composed a wordless religious service for string trio, whose South Bay premiere will be at the Festival. 


(San Francisco) Henry Hirsch Carrey is a Boston native and graduate of the Workmen’s Circle mitlshul. He is the son of Yiddish radio star Leyke Post and the brother of Yiddish actor/singer David Carrey. Henry was a member of the San Francisco Lamplighters Gilbert & Sullivan troupe for thirteen years, performing in a variety of roles. In New York, he sang with the Congregation Beth Simhat Torah Community Chorus, Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus and the New Yiddish Chorale. He has acted in several purimshpils produced by the Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, and performed as Der Groyser General in the Yiddish Pirates of Penzance and as the villain Papus in Goldfaden’s Bar Kochba. At KlezKamp in 2005, he sang Ahasuerus in Itzik Manger’s Megillah. He now sings with the San Francisco Jewish Folk Chorus and the Congregation Sha'ar Zahav Choir.


(Berkeley) Yael Chaver teaches Yiddish language and literature at U.C. Berkeley. Her interests lie at the intersection of modern Hebrew and Yiddish cultures. She is the author of What Must be Forgotten: The Survival of Yiddish in Zionist Palestine, and has written and presented extensively on modern Yiddish and Hebrew literature and the culture of the Zionist Yishuv (settlement) in Palestine. She is currently engaged in a study of 20th-century Hebrew and Yiddish adaptations of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.


(Berlin) Christian Dawid is considered one of today's leading klezmer clarinetists. He performed on countless stages from North America to Europe to Japan, with artists like Boban Markovic, Brave Old World, Theodore Bikel, Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg, Paul Brody and many others. He is also a committed teacher and has been invited to Yiddish festivals in Weimar, Kraków, Paris, London, St Petersburg, Buenos Aires, by KlezKamp, KlezKanada and others. Christian is currently leading the Ukrainian brass band Konsonans Retro, performs for Budowitz and Trio Yas, and is part of the acclaimed Other Europeans band.


(Lagunitas, Marin County) Julie Egger, violinist, dance leader and band manager, has played the violin since the age of seven. As a teenager, she performed with the Long Island Youth Orchestra, which performed all over the world. She received a Bachelor of Music in Education from Crane School of Music, where she studied with the Carnegie String Quartet and Ruth Iogha. Julie lived for nine years in Boston, where she performed classical, jazz, and liturgical music. She has performed with Stuart Brotman (Brave Old World) in Finif and Joshua Horowitz (Veretski Pass). She currently performs with the Red Hot Chachkas and freelance as well. She teaches klezmer music, classical and jazz to students of all ages. She also currently teaches at Marin School of the Arts. Julie co-founded KlezCalifornia and received a 2003 individual Artist Grant and a 2007 Community Grant from Marin Arts Council to create a Yiddish Folk Festival in West Marin. More at www.JulieEgger.com and julieegger[at]comcast.net.


(San Francisco) Howard Freedman is Director of the Bureau of Jewish Education Jewish Community Library in San Francisco, which includes the largest collection of Yiddish literature circulating to the public in California, as well as Yiddish movies, CDs, and audiobooks. He coordinated the now-defunct Yiddish Song Circle for more than a decade and has taught classes on Jewish film for many years.


(Madison, Connecticut) Joshua Horowitz, tsimbl and 19th Century accordion, received his Masters degree in Composition and Music Theory from the Academy of Music in Graz, Austria, where he taught Music Theory and served for eight years as Research Fellow and Director of the Klezmer Music Research Project. He is founder and director of the ensemble Budowitz and has performed and recorded with Rubin & Horowitz, Brave Old World, Adrienne Cooper and Ruth Yaakov. Joshua taught Advanced Jazz Theory at Stanford University with the late saxophonist Stan Getz and is a regular teacher at KlezKamp, The Albuquerque Academy and KlezKanada. His musicological work is featured in four books, including The Sephardic Songbook with Aron Saltiel and The Ultimate Klezmer, and he has written numerous articles on the counterpoint of J.S. Bach. His recordings with Budowitz, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Rubin & Horowitz, Alicia Svigals, Adrianne Greenbaum and Fialke have achieved international recognition and he is the recipient of more than forty awards, including the Prize of Honor from the Austrian government for his orchestral composition, Tenebrae. Besides his work as a musician, he led the first post-World War II music therapy group at the pioneering Beratungszentrum in Graz, Austria. His music was recently featured in the British film, "Some of my best friends are .. Jewish/Muslim," which was awarded the Sandford St. Martin Trust Religious Broadcasting Awards, and in "The Holocaust Tourist," and has provided the soundtrack to the popular German TV series, "Berlin, Berlin."


(San Francisco) Donny Inbar received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. His academic research focuses on Abraham Goldfaden, founder of Yiddish theatre, and the birth of Jewish show business. He has lectured, taught and published several articles on those topics. He currently teaches Jewish culture at San Jose State University. Donny, a graduate of the Drama Centre in London, had a career in professional theater in his homeland, Israel. Among the plays he directed and translated was his own adaptation of Goldfaden’s Days of the Messiah, Ibsen’s Doll’s House and musicals such as Guys and Dolls and My Fair Lady. He has also translated into Hebrew books by Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Roth. Donny had a long career in Israeli media, as journalist and editor-in chief. Since his arrival in the Bay Area in 1997, he has served as the Cultural Attaché at the Israeli Consulate, and is currently Associate Director for Arts and Culture at the Israel Center of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation. He is also a certified chef, having graduated from the California Culinary Academy.


(Oakland) Peter Jaques (www.huzzam.com) has been a fixture of the Bay Area Near Eastern music scene since 1995. He combines traditional Balkan, Rom, Greek, Turkish, and klezmer styles with his own, deeply soulful approach. He performs principally on the Bb clarinet and trumpet, as well as alto saxophone, Egyptian nay (reed flute), and Turkish G clarinet. Peter directs the Brass Menažeri Balkan Brass Band, and performs regularly with Black Olive Babes, mixing Balkan, Romani, Turkish, Sephardic, and American roots; Stellamara, a Middle-eastern/Balkan/world fusion ensemble; and Gamelan X, a hybrid gamelan orchestra. Peter was a founding member of the legendary Gonifs klezmer band. In addition, Peter has performed and/or recorded with many notable groups, including the Toids, San Francisco Klezmer Experience, and pickPocket Ensemble, as well as Zlatne Uste Balkan Brass Band, Zagnut Cirkus Orkestar, and Uzaylilar (Turkish art music) in New York.


(Oakland) Rosie Kaplan teaches English as a second language to adults from twenty-four countries. She was born in Germany to Polish-born parents and spoke Yiddish at home with  her parents and their older friends. Although she speaks, reads and writes Hebrew, and is still fluent in Yiddish, she does not read or write Yiddish.


(Sunnyvale) Marti Krow-Local attended an International Workers Order (IWO/Ordn) shule and mitlshul in Los Angeles. She later attended the University of California and Harvard, earning a Ph..D in Romance Languages and Literatures. She has taught classes on nineteenth-century history and Yiddish literature at Elder Hostel, Yiddishkayt L.A. and the Palo Alto JCC. She helped form the Secular Yiddish Schools of North America Special Collection at Stanford University Libraries and organized the first several years of contributed materials.


(Los Gatos) Jon Levitow has been the Yiddish instructor at Stanford for four years. He studied Yiddish at the Los Angeles Arbeter Ring (Workmens' Circle) and theCalifornia Institute for Yiddish Culture and Language intensive language program, where he has also been an instructor, and at the NYU/YIVO summer program in New York. He has a Ph.D. in English literature from Princeton University. His translations into English of works by the poets Yisroel Shtern, Yosl Bershteyn, and Aaron Zeitlin can be found at www.yisroelshtern.org and www.yosselbirstein.org.


(Felton, Santa Cruz County) Mark Levy has performed and taught in the San Francisco Bay Area for 25 years at temples, synagogues, JCC's, Lehrhaus Judaica, Workmen's Circle, and other Jewish groups. He has appeared throughout the country and abroad and is a singer and lecturer who specializes in older Judaic folk music in Yiddish, Hebrew, and Ladino, klezmer history and theory, and Jewish music history in general. He has performed for Yeshiva University's Sephardic Department's Semana Sepharad in New York, and is a cantorial soloist in California. He recently released a fourth album of Jewish music, Bin Ikh Mir A Shnayderl: Yiddish Work Songs, in commemoration of the 100th birthday of Workmen's Circle, a fraternal order of Jewish workers and their families. See www.marklevymusic.com, mitzvahmus[at]aol.com, 888.505.8953.


(New York) Trumpeter/composer Frank London is a member of the Klezmatics, Hasidic New Wave, has performed with John Zorn, LL Cool J, Mel Torme, Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy, LaMonte Young, They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Jane Siberry, Ben Folds 5, Mark Ribot, Maurice El Medioni and Gal Costa, and is featured on over 100 CDs. His own recordings include Invocations (cantorial music); Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars' Di Shikere Kapelye and Brotherhood of Brass; Nigunim and The Zmiros Project (Jewish mystical songs, with Klezmatics vocalist Lorin Sklamberg); The Debt (film and theater music); The Shekhina Big Band; soundtrack to The Shvitz; soundtrack to Perl Gluck's The Divahn and four releases with the Hasidic New Wave. His projects include the folk-opera A Night in the Old Marketplace (based on Y.L. Peretz's Bay nakht oyfn altn mark), Davenen for Pilobolus and the Klezmatics, Great Small Works' The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln and Min Tanaka's Romance. He composed music for John Sayles' The Brother From Another Planet and Men With Guns, Yvonne Rainer's Murder and Murder, the Czech-American Marionette Theater's Golem and Tamar Rogoff's Ivye Project. Frank was music director for David Byrne and Robert Wilson’s The Knee Plays, collaborated with Palestinian violinist Simon Shaheen, taught Jewish music in Canada, Crimea and the Catskills, and produced CD's for Gypsy Legend Esma Redzepova and Algerian Pianist Maurice el Medioni. He has been featured on HBO’s Sex and the City, at the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Lincoln Center Summer Festival, and co-founded the Les Miserables Brass Band and the Klezmer Conservatory Band.


(El Cerrito) Accordionist Jim Rebhan has been a mainstay of the San Francisco Bay Area klezmer scene. Since 1980, he has performed with the Ellis Island Old World Folk Band and has been a longtime member of California Klezmer, recording with both groups. He is the son of Jewish immigrants who left Europe in the late 1930’s (and who met in English language school) and grew up listening to Yiddish songs at home. His first accordion teachers were Italian immigrants in Chicago. He has studied klezmer accordion with Alan Bern (Brave Old World) and Lauren Brody (Mikveh). Jim majored in music at the University of Chicago and has a Masters in Composition from California Institute of the Arts. He has taught at Living Traditions’ KlezKamp West and at other KlezCalifornia festivals. In addition to the piano accordion, Jim performs on drums and xylophone. See www.musikers.com and www.californiaklezmer.com.


(Brooklyn, NY) Eleanor Reissa is a Tony Award-nominated director, Broadway choreographer, award-winning playwright, and an internationally renowned singer and actor in English and Yiddish. She was artistic director of the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre together with Zalmen Mlotek. She has worked in the American theatre for decades, directing musicals (Cowgirls; Avenue X; Those Were the  Days, etc.) as well as plays (Echoes of the War, The Skin Game, Syncopation, etc.). She has created solo cabaret pieces for herself and others and has performed in concert with Frank London, Zalmen Mlotek, Klezmer Conservatory Band at venues including Town Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Merkin Hall. She has two solo CD’s: Gems of Yiddish Song and Songs in the Key of Yiddish. www.eleanorreissa.com, [email protected].

Hear Eleanor in "Love and Longing in Yiddish" at San Jose's Congregation Sinai, Sunday, February 21, 3:00pm. More information at http://sinai-sj.org/calendar.html.


(Mountain View) Gabriella Safran teaches Russian and some Yiddish literature at Stanford, where she belongs to the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and directs the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Her first book, Rewriting the Jew; Assimilation Narratives in the Russian Empire (Stanford, 2000), won three book prizes. She co-edited the volume, The Worlds of S. An-sky: A Russian-Jewish Intellectual at the Turn of the Century (Stanford, 2006). Her biography of the Russian and Yiddish writer, ethnographer, and revolutionary An-sky, tentatively titled, Restless Soul, is due out with Harvard University Press in 2010.


(Oakland) Stephen Saxon has been an active member of the Jewish music scene since the 1980’s. He toured internationally and recorded with The Klezmorim and KlezX (a.k.a. San Francisco Klezmer Experience) and has performed or recorded with Klezmer Conservatory Band, Shlomo Carlebach, Bobby McFerrin, Finif, California Klezmer, Vinnitsa Band Project, Klezmer Suicide Pact, Clockwork, Where’s Gesualdo, and leads The New Klezmorim. He produced the theme music for a radio series on National Public Radio and a collection of Hanukah stories by Joel Ben Izzy, and has won multiple awards for his composing and arranging. Stephen is a cantor, embracing both traditional and modern styles of Jewish sacred and secular music. He appeared with the San Francisco Symphony in December, 2009, performing a medley he arranged for the orchestra that featured his solo vocals and the orchestra playing Naftule Brandwine’s Heyser Bulgar. He is writing and producing a Gospel Shabbat service, which will premiere at Temple Sinai in Oakland, Friday, April 30th. (www.stephensaxon.com, www.saxon.com/allvoices, www.saxon.com/cantor)


(San Francisco) Joel Schechter is Professor of Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University and Vice-Chair of the Workmen's Circle of Northern California. His book, Messiahs of 1933; How American Yiddish Theatre Survived Adversity Through Satire, was published in 2008 by Temple University Press. He regularly writes a column titled "Radical Yiddish" for the journal Jewish Currents. He has also published a series of comic strips about Yiddish culture illustrated by Spain Rodriguez and shown in a retrospective last year at San Francisco's Jewish Community Library. Joel has directed a number of Yiddish plays in English at San Francisco State, among them Sholem Aleichem's A Doctor, Moishe Nadir's Messiah in America (with musical direction by Gerry Tenney) and a staged reading of I.B. Singer's The Fools of Chelm (with klezmer music by Robbie Reich).


(Berkeley) Martin Schwartz is Professor of Near Eastern Studies (Ancient Iranian Studies) at U.C. Berkeley. In the early 1970s, he, together with a few musicians, started the wave of interest in reviving the old klezmer repertory. Martin's role was to supply old recordings and provide information on Yiddish and performance of Yiddish tunes (including klezmer). In time, he became known as an expert on aspects of klezmer music and its broader connections, with formal invitations (i.e., paid trips) to speak at events including Ethnic Folks Arts (New York City), International Conference of Rebetica (Nikaia - Athens), Netherlands/Belgium Sferra Institute lecture series -- touring with Brave Old World and a Greek group, Jewish Music Institute (London), and Institute of Rebetology (London). Martin has produced archival annotated reissues of Klezmer Music: Early Yiddish Instrumental Music, The First Recordings (Arhoolie - Folklyric label, LP and revised edition as CD). His disks also formed the basis of the archival CD Yikhes (Trikont label) and he produced an annotated LP (revised as CD) of rebetica (Arhoolie - Folklyric) as well as contributing music and notes to other similar CDs.


(Madison, Connecticut) Cookie Segelstein, violin and viola, received her Masters degree in Viola from The Yale School of Music in 1984. She is principal violist in Orchestra New England and
assistant principal in The New Haven Symphony Orchestra. She is the founder and director of Veretski Pass, a member of Budowitz and of The Youngers of Zion with Henry Sapoznik. She teaches violin at Southern Connecticut State University and has presented lecture/demonstrations and workshops on klezmer fiddling all over the world. She is also on staff at Living Traditions' KlezKamp, KlezKanada and KlezCalifornia Festivals. She has performed with numerous notables including Kapelye, The Klezmatics, Frank London, and The Klezmer Conservatory Band, to name a few. She was featured on the ABC Documentary, A Sacred Noise, heard on HBO's Sex and the City, appears in the Miramax film, Everybody's Fine, starring Robert De Niro, and heard on several recordings including the Veretski Pass self-titled release and new new CD, Trafik. She is also publisher of The Music of... series of klezmer transcriptions. Active as a Holocaust educator and curriculum advisor, Cookie has been a frequent lecturer at the Women's Correctional Facility in Niantic, Connecticut. She is also an  Apple Certified Support Professional, and owns and operates The Macmama, LLC.


(Berkeley) Naomi Seidman is the Koret Professor of Jewish Culture and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Her first book, A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish, appeared in 1997. Her second book, Faithful Renderings; Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation, was published in 2006.


(Berkeley) Mitchell Shandling serves on the Board of Directors of KlezCalifornia. He learned Yiddish from his grandparents and in an Orthodox kheder (religious school) in Brooklyn.


(Berkeley) Claire is an artist who creates ceramic sculptures and Jewish ritual objects. Following graduation from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in ceramics, she spent a year in Israel. While there, Claire studied Hebrew and absorbed the archaeology and age-old landscape. The walls, archways, and roofs of Israel’s ancient architecture have had a lasting impact on her work. Claire conducts art workshops in paper cutting and Jewish ritual objects for adults and children throughout California. She is a founding member of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, where she enjoys chanting Torah and davening (leading services). Claire also loves to sing rounds. Although she knows hundreds of them, she doesn't yet know any in Yiddish.


(Oakland) Francesco Spagnolo, Ph.D., is a multidisciplinary scholar with a focus on Jewish studies, music and digital media. Intersecting textual, visual and musical cultures, Spagnolo has contributed extensively to academia, cultural heritage and archival institutions, and to live and electronic media in Europe, Israel and the United States. He holds a doctorate in musicology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the editor of the audio anthology, Italian Jewish Musical Traditions (Rome-Jerusalem 2001). His essay, “When the Fiddler Falls Off the Roof: Italy and the Klezmer Music Revival,” was published in the Rivista Italiana di Musicologia in 2002 (http://sidm.it/sidm/ridm/xxxviab.html#spagnolo). Francesco is Director of Research and Collections at the Magnes Museum in Berkeley. http://www.google.com/profiles/spagnoloacht


(Oakland) Gerry Tenney is a children’s entertainer, musician and teacher, singer of Yiddish songs and leader of the band California Klezmer. In 2002, 2004, and 2006 he was Musical Director for two Yiddish - oriented plays put on by San Francisco State University's Drama and Jewish Studies Departments. He directed the Jewish Music Festival in its early years and was a main organizer of the first klezmer camp in California (KlezKamp West) in 1989. He has led and performed children's music at many klezmer music camps in New York, West Virginia and California, as well as at other Jewish children's camps. Gerry has worked with children for more than forty years. He is director and music teacher of the East Bay Kindershul, the only kids’ school (grades K-8) in the Bay Area that emphasizes Yiddish culture. Gerry taught sociology at the City College of New York 1967 - 1972. He is an almost-fluent Yiddish speaker and is President of KlezCalifornia.


(Oakland) Harvey Varga, furniture designer and cabinetmaker, was born in New York City to Holocaust survivors. Yiddish is his first language. Harvey has been a teacher of Yiddish and other Jewish subjects since 1975 at Lehrhaus Judaica, Stanford University, JCC San Francisco, and KlezKamp. Harvey was on the Board of Directors of the JCC San Francisco, 1986
- 1990, and served on the S.F. Jewish Community Relations Council. 


See Stu Brotman, Joshua Horowitz, and Cookie Segelstein. Taking its name from the mountain pass through which Magyar tribes crossed into the Carpathian basin to settle what later became the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Veretski Pass offers a unique and exciting combination of virtuosic musicianship and raw energy that has excited concertgoers across the world. With colorful instrumentation, unique arrangements and compositions, Veretski Pass plays "Old Country Music," music with origins in the Ottoman Empire, once fabled as the borderlands of the East and the West. In a true collage of Carpathian, Jewish, Rumanian and Ottoman styles, typical suites contain dances from Moldavia and Bessarabia, Jewish melodies from Poland and Romania, Hutzul wedding music from Carpathian-Ruthenia, and haunting Rebetic aires from Smyrna, seamlessly integrated with original compositions.


(Oak Park, Illinois) Steve Weintraub is a teacher, choreographer, and performer specializing in Jewish dance. He received his training with Alvin Ailey and Erick Hawkins, and danced for Felix Fibich. He teaches Yiddish dance workshops internationally, leads dancing at simkhes, and collaborated on Hopkele, a CD of music especially for dancing.