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KlezCalifornia promotes and celebrates Yiddish culture in the San Francisco Bay Area

We mourn the death of Theodore Bikel in July at age 91. Many have posted tributes [such as this one
by Benjamin Ivry in "The Forward"  and this one
 by Leon Wieseltier delivered in Bikel's honor in June] that recall his creativity and activism in many fields: folk music (Newport Folk Festival), Jewish music festivals (in Boston, Atlanta, and Toronto), klezmer (Klezmer Conservatory Band, Klezmatics), Broadway (Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music), film (African Queen, Defiant Ones, My Fair Lady), advocacy of freedom for Soviet Jews, and peace between Israel and the Palestinians (Partners for Progressive Israel). 

Some quotes from Bikel: 
-- "I make no claim that the Yiddish language is superior to other languages, but it is mine"  and
-- "In my world, history comes down to language and art. No one cares much about what battles were fought, who won them and who lost them - unless there is a painting, a play, a song or a poem that speaks of the event."

Hear Bikel singing "If I Were a Rich Man
" and "Dona Dona

Finally, posted by Bob Rothstein on the Jewish Music Listserv
: "During the American folksong revival of the fifties and sixties, when almost every other singer was reviving American or English or Irish songs, Theodore Bikel was nearly alone (Martha Schlamme was another) in presenting an international repertoire - in Russian, Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Slovak, Ukrainian, Greek, Zulu, etc. In the introduction to his book "Folksongs and Footnotes," he explained that his travels had given him roots "in a different sense from the commonly accepted meaning of the term." He continued: "My roots are wherever there are people I love - people I can laugh with, sing with, or grieve with, and there are many such." He summed up this idea with a German proverb: "Wherever good people dwell, settle down [with them], for evil people alone possess no songs." 

Contributing Members of KlezCalifornia (i.e. donors) will be invited to our semi-annual party
 with Board and Advisory Council members on Sunday, August 92:00-5:00pm. If you like, bring a short (3-minute) tune to play, song to sing, or poem or reading to share!Invitations have gone out. If you have not contributed since June 2014, we invite you to donate
right now and you too will be invited! Your gift is tax-deductible.

We hope to see you at the party and at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival! 

P.S. If you see the film "Famous Nathan," know that KlezCalifornia Board member Laura Sheppard's grandfather Harry Shapiro, delicatessen owner and entrepreneur, lent Nathan the money to open his first place!


-- Submissions for the August newsletter HERE
 by September 21.
-- KlezCalifornia Geleh* Pages (*yellow), directory of Bay Area resources: Geleh Pages 

-- Online sources of Yiddish-inspired culture: KlezCal on-line resources

-- Klezmer musicians looking for others: KlezCal want ads

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San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, until August 9

Until Sunday, August 9, Jewish Film Institute presents The 35th San Francisco Jewish Film FestivalTickets: $14 general / $12 JFI members / $13 seniors, students w/ID. Monday to Thursday matinees: $10 general / $9 JFI members. Full / partial passes available. More info: 415.621.0523Jewish Film Festival
Jewish Film Institute


KlezCalifornia is co-presenting the following films:

The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer 
(Israel, 2014, 72 mins., directed by Asaf Galay, Shaul Betser)
An extraordinarily talented writer who lived in the labyrinth of his own imagination, Singer craved fame and loved women almost as much as he loved Yiddish. "Muses" is more about the women who midwifed Singer's work into English than about Singer's writing itself. It will make you read the short stories "Gimpel the Fool," "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy" or the novel "Enemies, a Love Story" with new eyes. These master works were written by Singer alone, but they were reborn in English through a collaborative (and sometimes desire-laden) process of translation. Preceded by "YidLife Crisis: Breaking the Fast."
California | Saturday, August 1, 12:20pm (Berkeley) 
Castro | Sunday, August  2, 12:45pm (San Francisco)
Smith Rafael | Sunday, August 9, 12:05pm (San Rafael)

YidLife Crisis: Breaking the Fast
(Canada, 2014, 5 mins., directors Eli Battalion, Jamie Elman)
Assembling at Montreal's holy temple of poutine (fries, cheese and gravy), La Banquise, on the Jewish calendar's holiest day of the year, Yumkipr (Yom Kippur), Chaimie and Leizer argue about the meaning of the ritual of fasting while ritually eating. They are best friends and debating adversaries who tackle life, love and lactose intolerance in this foodie-centric web series done entirely in their grandparents' Yiddish.
 Shows just before "The Muses of Isaac Bashevis Singer."
        California | Saturday, August 1, 12:20pm

Castro | Sunday, August  2, 12:45pm
Smith Rafael | Sunday, August 9, 12:05pm

Raise the Roof 
(U.S.A., 2014, 85 mins., directors Yari Wolinsky, Cary Wolinsky) In the early 2000s, Rick Brown and his wife Laura Brown were captivated by a series of now-vanished but once resplendent synagogues whose painted interiors captured the pulse and color of Jewish life in 18th-century Poland. Each was ultimately destroyed by the Nazis; they are preserved only in photographs. Determined to restore the splendor of these wooden structures, the husband-and-wife team recruited 300 artists and students (many of whom are not Jewish) to reconstruct a life-sized model of one such synagogue. "Raise the Roof" chronicles this collective undertaking. Today, the reconstructed versionstands in Warsaw, as part of the permanent collection of a museum dedicated to Poland's Jewish heritage. 
California | Thursday, August 6, 4:30pm
Smith Rafael | Saturday, August 8, 12:30pm

Very Semi-Serious 
(U.S.A., 83 mins., director Leah Wolchok) Why do cartoons feel like a quintessentially Jewish art form? From comic books to graphic novels, Jews have blazed a trail in illustratedstorytelling. The single panel cartoon - a few squiggles and even fewer words - enlightens, maddens, confuses. and delights. And nowhere does that art form soar higher than in the "New Yorker" magazine. Watching "Very Semi-Serious" is like getting together with someone else's crazy relatives; we see ourselves in them, but we're glad we don't have to go home with them. Filmmaker Leah Wolchok's peek behind the curtain reveals the people and pain that makes the humor poignant. Like binging on a year's worth of "New Yorker" cartoons, Very Semi-Serious delights and leaves you wanting more. 
California | Saturday, August 1, 6:30pm

Famous Nathan 
(U.S.A., 2014, 97 mins., director Lloyd Handwerker) We all love a good rags-to-riches story, and few are as improbable as the tale of Nathan Handwerker of Nathan's Famous, the storied hot dog franchise. "Famous Nathan" draws onhundreds of hours of interview footage, home movies, and audio recordings to weave the story of Handwerker as fast food pioneer, upstanding member of the Jewish community and family man. It is a quintessentially American tale of food, family and faith.
California | Sunday, August 2, 11:20am
Community Events 


Until Sunday, August 2, Triangle, a new musical involving the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Part of TheatreWorks' New Works Festival. Tickets: $25-$74. More info: 650.463.1960TheatreWorks. 

At Lucie Stern Theatre, PALO ALTO   

Until Sunday, August 2, Fiddler on the Roof. Produced by Berkeley Playhouse. Tickets: $17-$60. More info: 510.845.8542 X351, Berkeley Playhouse.

At Julia Morgan Theater, BERKELEY

Until Sunday, August 9, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. See story above.


Saturday, August 1, 9:00pm, Hernandez Hideaway, part of Oakland's first Old World Dance Party. The Bodice Rippers and Carnea Cruda also perform. In collaboration with Oaktown Indie Mayhem. Hernandez Hideaway releases their debut album, Klezmerotica Sweethearts. Tickets: $10. More info:Hernandez Hideaway
Facebook Event.

At Legionnaire Saloon, OAKLAND 

Monday, August 36:00-8:00pmPerlmutter, Perney, and Pollard (clarinet, bass, and drum trio), play inside and outside the klezmer tradition. Entertainment free with $10 purchase. More info:510.848.3354Klezmer Mondays at Saul's. 

At Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen, BERKELEY

Wednesday, August 57:00-9:00pm, Ellis Island Old World Folk Band. More info: 510.849.1100,Le Bateau Ivre

At Le Bateau Ivre Café/Restaurant, BERKELEY


Sunday, August 92:00-5:00pm, KlezCalifornia Semi-Annual Party. Join the fun at KlezCalifornia's party for donors, Board, and Advisory Council members. If you have not contributed since June 2014, we invite you to donate right now! More info: 415.789.7679,info[at]   

Monday, August 106:00-8:00pm, ADAMA. Part of Klezmer Mondays. Entertainment free with $10 purchase. More info: 510.848.3354Klezmer Mondays at Saul's. 

At Saul's Restaurant & Delicatessen, BERKELEY.

Saturday, August 15, 11:00am-12:00noon, Ellis Island Old World Folk Band. No charge. More info: 510.526.7512Contra Costa County Library.  

At El Cerrito Library, EL CERRITO  


Wednesday, August 267:00-8:00pm, Klezmer Creek performance followed by jam. Fourth  

Wednesday Klezmer Nights. Entertainment free with $5 purchase. More info: 707.544.2491Klezmer Creek, Gaia's Garden.  

At Gaia's Garden, SANTA ROSA     


Thursday, August 27, 7:00pm, Hot Kugel. Klezmer favorites and more. Entertainment free with dinner. More info: 650.968.1502Morocco's Restaurant. 

At Moroccos' Restaurant, MOUNTAIN VIEW   

Sunday, August 30, 7:00pm, Hot Kugel. An evening of instrumental Jewish music. Entertainment free with dinner. More info: 408.866.2666Jerusalem Grill & Bar.

At Jerusalem Grill & Bar, CAMPBELL  

On the Web


"I'm Here to Perform Yiddish Music — Not Cater to Your Idea of Blackness,"  an opinion piece by Bay Area Yiddish singer Anthony Russell, in "The Forward," July 31. 

Compare "Why Is It So Hard to Get a Great Bagel in California" [i.e., "in the San Francisco Bay Area"] by Elizabeth Weil in "The New York Times" with "Bay Area Bagel Deficiency? A Response to the Times" by Alix Wall in "The Forward" (thanks to Judy Kandel). 

Interesting story about Yiddish singer Heather Klein's mother, who came from Shanghai, China, and passed through the Angel Island immigration station in 1940 with $2.50, hoping to reach Yonkers, New York, to connect with a man whom she had dated only once (thanks to Tony Phillips). 

Farshidns (This 'n That)

Proverb of the month: A tavern can't corrupt a good person, and a synagogue can't reform a bad one.  (A gutn mentshn vet di shenk nit kalyeh makhn, a shlekhtn vet der beys-hamedresh nit farrikhtn)(thanks to Yiddish Wit). 

Coming in September

Sunday, September 63:00-4:30pm, Convergence, with Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell and Veretski Pass. Combining diverse strains of traditional Jewish and African-American music, the repertoire explores exile, spirituality, hope, and redemption. Tickets: $10 CJM Members, $15 general (includes museum admission). More info: 415.655.7800Contemporary Jewish Museum
At Contemporary Jewish Museum, SAN FRANCISCO.

Sunday, September 132:00-4:30pm, Secular Jewish New Year celebration, presented by Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring. Includes Yiddish songs. Donation requested: $10-$25, sliding scale. More info/reservations: 415.566.7235dmscott01[at]

Sunday, Sept. 272:00-4:00pm, KlezCalifornia Flisik Yidisheh Salon. For fluent Yiddish speakers. No charge. More info: 415.789.7679flisik[at]
At a private home, OAKLAND
SupportKlezCaliforniaSupport KlezCalifornia
With a gift of any amount, you become a Contributing Member of KlezCalifornia and you may post a message of up to 100 words on our web Honor Wall
 for one year. This is a fine way to honor a loved one or teacher or to write about your own Yiddish heritage.

Chai image
Donors of $54 (3 chai/khay) or more may choose one of four "thank you" gifts: *  "Live & Be Well, A Celebration of Yiddish Culture in America
," by Richard F. Shepard and Vicki Gold Levi (192 pp.) * "
The Oy Way
," a 115-page book by Harvey Gotliffe that helps you learn Yiddish expressions while engaging in meditative exercise. * DVD of the wonderful 80-minute "Yiddish Theater: A Love Story.
 * Eight beautiful, brightly-colored, 5"x7" music-themed greeting cards designed by Sonoma County artist Nina Bonos

Your donations help KlezCalifornia keep Bay Area Yiddish culture and community vibrant and thriving. Plus, you'll be invited to two special KlezCalifornia parties each year. Make your tax-deductible donation via credit card
 or with a check to KlezCalifornia at 1728 Allston Way, Berkeley 94703. A sheynem dank! Thank you very much!