Seth Rogovoy to Give Virtual Presentation on Klezmer

(AMHERST, Mass.) – Author Seth Rogovoy will deliver a virtual multimedia presentation called “The Essential Klezmer” on Thursday, May 14, at 7pm, as part of the Yiddish Book Center’s ongoing series of Virtual Public Programs. In the talk, which includes narration, song clips, and video, Rogovoy will recount the evolution of klezmer from Old World shtetls to New World nightclubs and concert stages.

This live event will be presented via Zoom and will also stream live on the Yiddish Book Center’s Facebook page. Register in advance in order to be part of the virtual audience on Zoom and submit questions; space is limited.

Seth Rogovoy is the artistic director of the Yiddish Book Center’s annual YIDSTOCK: The Festival of New Yiddish Music (which has been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and author of The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover’s Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music, the all-time bestselling guide to the music.

Upcoming events in the series include Ilan Stavans reading his play Kaddish for My Father; a multimedia presentation by David Mazower on the NYC salon of Yiddish poet Bertha Kling; and “The Kabbalah of Bob Dylan,” another multimedia talk by Seth Rogovoy, author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet, examining the life and songs of the Nobel Prize–winning rock poet through a Jewish lens.

The full list of events:

Talk: The Essential Klezmer, with Seth Rogovoy

Thursday, May 14, 7 p.m. EDT

A multimedia presentation in which Yidstock artistic director Seth Rogovoy—the author of The Essential Klezmer, the bestselling guidebook to Yiddish roots and soul music—recounts the evolution of klezmer from Old World shtetls to New World nightclubs and concert stages.


Reading: Kaddish for My Father, with Ilan Stavans

Sunday, May 17, 7 p.m. EDT

Ilan Stavans will present a reading of his play Kaddish for My Father, followed by a brief Q&A.

Kaddish for My Father; or, Why We Lie, a Play in Four Snapshots by Ilan Stavans:

As a famous Mexican theater and telenovela actor lies in his deathbed, his son tries to come to terms with the emotional trail he left behind and with the tension between the public figure and private man. Directed by Daniel Lombardo.

About the playwright: Ilan Stavans is an internationally renowned writer and cultural critic whose books, translated into numerous languages, have been adapted into film, theater, TV, and radio.


Director Talk: In Search of Israeli Cuisine, with Roger Sherman

Thursday, May 21, 7 p.m. EDT

In Search of Israeli Cuisine is a portrait of the Israeli people told through food. The film profiles chefs, home cooks, vintners, and cheesemakers drawn from the more than 100 cultures that make up Israel today—Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze. A rich and human story of the people emerges from their food. The film has played in more than 160 festivals and special screenings around the world and has been shown in theaters across the United States and Canada. The film’s director, Roger Sherman, will discuss and host a short Q&A about the film. Participants are encouraged to view the film in advance—it’s widely available through a number of streaming platforms.

About the director: Roger Sherman’s films have garnered two Academy Award nominations and won an Emmy, a Peabody, and a James Beard Award. He is a producer, director, cinematographer, author, documentary doctor, and a founder of Florentine Films.


Talk: Bronx Bohemians, with David Mazower

Thursday, May 28, 7 p.m. EDT

For several decades in the early twentieth century, Bertha Kling and her husband kept open house in the Bronx. As hip as Greenwich Village, cheaper than the Café Royal, and more heymish than either, the Klings’ apartment was a gathering place for newly arrived Yiddish writers, musicians, and actors, and a place to hear the latest Yiddish literary gossip or news from Paris, Warsaw, Moscow, or Hollywood. In this illustrated talk, David Mazower uses rare family archives to explore this unique group of Bronx bohemians, whose ranks included writers Moyshe Nadir, Malka Lee, Peretz Hirshbein, and Esther Shumiatsher, musicians Lazar Weiner and Joseph and Lara Cherniavsky, puppeteer Zuni Maud, and the entire Sholem Aleichem family. David Mazower is the Yiddish Book Center’s bibliographer and editorial director.


Author Talk: Featuring Brett Sokol, journalist and editor of Shtetl in the Sun: Andy Sweet’s South Beach, 1977–1980

Thursday, June 4, 7 p.m. EDT

Details available soon on Yiddish Book Center website and social media.


Conversation and Reading: Yiddish Comes to America, with Mindl (Madeleine) Cohen

Thursday, June 11, 7 p.m. EDT

Drawing from the Yiddish Book Center’s recently published 2020 Pakn Treger Digital Translation Issue: Yiddish Comes to America, editor Mindl Cohen will talk about the Yiddish writers whose work appears in translation and how the selected works speak to—and inform—our understanding of this year’s Decade of Discovery theme, Yiddish in America: Cultural Encounters. The anthology includes newly translated works; excerpts of some of the translations will be read by actors and translators. The program will include a brief Q&A.


Talk: The Kabbalah of Bob Dylan, with Seth Rogovoy

Thursday, June 18, 7 p.m. EDT

A multimedia presentation in which Yidstock artistic director Seth Rogovoy—the author of Bob Dylan: Prophet Mystic Poet—examines the life and songs of the Nobel Prize–winning rock poet through a Jewish lens.


About the Yiddish Book Center: The Yiddish Book Center is a nonprofit organization working to recover, celebrate, and regenerate Yiddish and modern Jewish literature and culture. Over the past forty years, since its founding in 1980, the organization has rescued more than a million volumes, has established and strengthened Yiddish holdings at 700 university and research libraries around the world, and has posted the full texts of 12,000 titles online in its Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library, making Yiddish one of the most accessible literatures in the world. The Center’s website,, features articles about Yiddish and modern Jewish culture in Yiddish and English, books and short works in Yiddish and English translation, podcasts, oral history interviews, audio recordings, and more.




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