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Europe's New Gypsy Jazz Masters

- Lulo Reinhardt

- Les Doigts de l'Homme

- Sebastien Giniaux and Norig

In The Footsteps Of Django brings together the best of the new Gypsy Jazz masters of Europe—LULO REINHARDT, a third generation German master, whose group the Latin Swing Project combines Gypsy Jazz with Latin rhythms. LES DOIGTS DE L'HOMME, France's leading contemporary Gypsy Jazz group, stunning musicians with a great sense of flair and humor on stage. And NORIG, a French singer with a Celtic name and Catalan roots, and a gift for bringing out the full range of feelings in Gypsy music, who will make her American debut accompanied by the gifted SEBASTIEN GINIAUX on guitar.

Fall tour dates and ticket purchase:

More exciting announcements coming. Visit us: 

Please be sure to support our sponsors -

*** Saga Musical Instruments, featuring the Gitane Model DG 560, as used by Lulo Reinhardt

***Shubb Capos, the official capo of In the Footsteps of Django

***Savarez Strings, as used by Sebastien Sébastien Giniaux, Les Doigts de l'Homme and Lulo Reinhardt

One lucky concertgoer who enters our draw will win a Saga Gitane DG-560 Modele Lulo Reinhardt guitar, as used by Lulo on our tour (valued at $1850). We will also be giving away one Shubb capo at each performance, as used by Lulo and the rest of guitarists on our tour. It is the most popular capo in the world today. All our musicians use Savarez strings, which have been generously provided by the company.

SAGA poster

1312: This could be my new rating, according to the new ratings calculator.

My Albany Bingos

(Two tracking sheets are missing. I’ll try to find those and update the list). I'm pretty sure my bingos and brow-raisers were prettier.  :)




























Opponents’ bingos

























My kewl words




CACAO and then COFFEE the next play

CROZE (then extended to CROZER)



FASH (twice!)


ZOOM (50 pts)










The Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus presents

“Jewish Heroes, Sung & Unsung”

(I'm in the alto section...come see me and say hi!)


NEW YORK CITY -- In the footsteps of its sold-out concert last spring, the Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus is returning to Symphony Space on Sun, May 31 at 4:30 pm. Tickets are $25 and $15. Founded in 1922, this intergenerational chorus is conducted by Binyumen Schaechter, and will sing a new program from its rich repertoire of Yiddish choral music with English translations provided throughout. He is the son of the widely renowned late Yiddish linguist Mordkhe Schaechter.


Founded in 1922, the chorus boasts members ranging in age from 15 to 85, and has made guest appearances at Alice Tully Hall, Shea Stadium, Ground Zero, the Museum of the City of New York and, most recently, at West Point Military Academy. There are students, grandparents, Canadians, Israelis, gays and straights, most of varying levels of Jewish observance, and even a couple of people who are not Jewish at all, but who are devoted to the music. Some people speak Yiddish, such as the several adult children of Holocaust survivors and late Yiddish poets and thinkers. Some speak no Yiddish. Their collective goal is to breathe life into this historic body of music work and make it live again.


This unlikely army of Yiddish singers gathers once a week at the social hall of a residence for the elderly on the Upper West Side to rehearse its dynamic repertoire, no less diverse and interesting than the singers, from exciting oratorios and comic operettas to labor anthems, beloved folksongs, and popular tunes.



This year's concert will highlight the works of the great Yiddish writers Sholom Aleichem, Dovid Edelstadt, Itsik Manger, and Peretz Miransky; and composers Michl Gelbart, Srul Glick, Mark Zuckerman, and Georg Friedrich Handel. Also in the program will be the rarely heard Wolf Younin/Maurice Rauch cantata Ester Hamalke ("Queen Esther"), featuring tenor soloist Cantor David Berger and pianist Amy Duran.


In addition, Di Shekhter-tekhter ("The Schaechter Daughters"), age 14 and 9, will perform selections from their show "Our Zeydas and Bubbas as Children," with which they have toured three continents over the past year.


This concert is dedicated to the memory of Alice Kogan, long-time irreplaceable JPPC performer and activist.


The JPPC will be performing at Symphony Space on Sunday, May 31, at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and $15. Symphony Space is located on New York City's Upper West Side, at 2537 Broadway near 95th Street. To buy tickets, visit www.symphonyspace.org, or call the Symphony Space box office at  212-864-5400 .  For more information about the chorus, visit www.thejppc.org.




Bio on the musical director

Binyumen Schaechter, Director




BINYUMEN (BEN) SCHAECHTER (Conductor) is an award-winning composer of musicals and other songs which have been performed on five continents, with his music represented off-Broadway in NAKED BOYS SINGING (one of the longest-running shows in off-Broadway history), PETS! (Dramatic Publishing), THAT'S LIFE! (Outer Critics Circle nomination), TOO JEWISH? (nominated: Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle  Awards) and DOUBLE IDENTITY.   His music has been recorded on a dozen CDs, including "IT HELPS TO SING ABOUT IT: Songs of Ben Schaechter & Dan Kael" (amazon.com).

 As an actor, he was featured with Anna Deveare Smith in her one-woman show in Carnegie Hall.  He has also entertained across North America and in Paris in his one-man show, THE SHTETL COMES TO LIFE.  More recently, together with elder daughter Reyna, he toured FROM KINAHORA TO CONEY ISLAND, his musical revue about the Jewish experience in America, and with both daughters in OUR ZEYDAS AND BUBBAS AS CHILDREN http://youtube.com/user/ShekhterTekhter.  He provided the translations for the first-ever DVD with Yiddish subtitles, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HANK GREENBERG.  He and his 3 sisters all speak only Yiddish with their total of 16 children.  He is the son of the late great Yiddish expert, linguist and teacher, Dr. Mordkhe Schaechter. 

Here’s our website:



We also have a facebook page, we’re on CD Baby and you can hear us on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/jewishpeoplesphilharmonicchorus.


Here’s some info on Itche Goldberg:



Here’s Miransky’s obit from the NYTimes:



And a few words about Srul Irving Glick:




Short Story Competition

Tickler time, everyone!

It's late for this year, but put this on your calendars. Symphony Space will be announcing its next short story competition in October '09. Here's the info:



Final short story

Django and Stephane in the air

on a warm New Jersey night

By Lynda Kraar


I don't know how long I'd been at the wheel until the radio host on the big band station announced the time:


“This is Danny Stiles on your dials: your vicar of vintage; your king of nostalgia; your maven of moldy oldies. The time now is 4 a.m. Why aren’t you precocious teenagers in bed? Here’s one by the Four King Sisters – The Jersey Bounce, on the Bluebird label. I’m sending it out to Al Duffy. He's at the Red Blazer II tonight with the boys.”


At four in the morning magical things happen -- things unknown to the sleeping world. From the well-lit highway I exited onto an old back road in western Monmouth County, listening to the strains of the Andrew Sisters, Slam Stewart, Charlie Christian and a cast of local musicians from a bygone era of whom I’d never heard.


The saplings along the side of the barely paved lane were donning their nighttime spring buds, revealing shades of emerald, forest, and cadmium green as the road ahead glistened a steely, crackled chromium in the moonlight. Like a deep-sea diver surrounded by the eerie shapes and sounds, I felt a rush of excitement about the summer, which, like sunrise, was just on the horizon.


The car rattled as I hit a pothole, and then another. I cracked the window to feel the damp night air.  The brooding sky roiled and slept fitfully, laying in wait for the dawn song of the thrushes, starlings and robins. Moonbeams outlined the form of cumulus clouds, revealing a silver lining on the blue blackness. At that moment the heavens had a personality and colour known only to cops on the beat, revellers returning from their soirees, street sweepers, insomniacs, chauffeurs finishing up a run to Atlantic City, and to gigging musicians like me. 

Read more...Collapse )




By Lynda Kraar

Like everything in nature, writing can be broken down into its essential elements. Some are noble elements. Dialogue is a key noble element. When properly used, it can stand on its own, as it may do in a script. It cannot be influenced by other elements or by outside forces when it flows as a natural part of the narrative. It has a protective shield – quote marks. This distinction lets it be known that you are being transported out of the story telling into another dimension of the story itself.

Dialogue is considered one of the potentially most treacherous devices in any type of writing.  It can bring the characters to life. It relies on the skill of the writer to meticulously and painstakingly measure each word. However, if extreme caution is not taken with this special element, just as a noble gas might do, the dialogue will dissipate and destroy the integrity of the narrative.Read more...Collapse )</div></div>

Thank you Jewish Standard!!

Big shout out to the Jewish Standard of Teaneck for publishing my Op Ed:


Building bridges and mending fences with Poland

Lynda Kraar • Op-Ed
Published: 17 April 2009

Although it had not been widely publicized outside Poland, a deadline has quietly passed for the Polish government’s offer of compensation for property left outside its present borders in connection with World War II. This is not related to restitution for property confiscated in Poland by the German Nazi and post-war Communist regimes. Rather, it is compensation offered for property left behind when Poland’s borders were shifted west after the war. Poland’s eastern territories were taken over by the Soviet Union in exchange for new western territories taken from a vanquished Germany. I was part of a team that processed approximately 250 applications and I had the opportunity to talk to many elderly survivors — mainly Catholic — about their wartime experiences.

This little-known fact presents an opportunity for the Jewish community to build bridges and mend fences with the Polish community, which also finds itself in exile throughout the world, and frequently in close proximity to Eastern European Jewish neighborhoods. It is estimated that 1.7 million Poles were deported to Siberia. Among them were hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews, especially refugees from Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, who were deported eastward by the Soviets in 1940-41. That we know from documentation that is widely and popularly available. What is less known is that tens of thousands of Polish allied soldiers and refugees passed through British-occupied Palestine during 1941-46, including 6,000 Jewish soldiers in the Polish Army — many of whom stayed behind to help create and defend Israel, including future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Nearly 1,000 Jewish orphans (the “Tehran children”) also came to Israel in this process.

The stories that are emerging from those who lived in the eastern borderlands of Poland, mostly Catholic children in September of 1939, sound remarkably like those of the Jewish children whose testimonies many of us heard in Jewish schools when we were growing up.

Romuald Lipinski was a 14-year-old schoolboy when Nazi soldiers pounded on his door in the middle of the night, giving his family 10 minutes to clear out toward the Soviet border, never to return to their home. Like so many boys, Lipinski would join the army-in-exile of Gen. Wladyslaw Anders in Siberia, and would eventually be part of the Polish army, which, together with the British Army, fought decisively in the Battle of Monte Cassino. His regiment was instrumental in driving the Nazis out of Italy — a victory for which Lipinski would be decorated as a hero.

“It broke our hearts when our land was lost to the Soviets — we felt totally betrayed by our own allies. We helped win the war against Hitler but lost our homeland to Stalin. But even though we never could return home after the war, we never forgot our Polish homeland,” says Lipinksi.

A deportation survivor and resident of Northport, Fla., Marie Gaffney recalls, “The Soviet troopers came with guns drawn in the dead of night and dragged us out into minus-40-degree [Fahrenheit] temperatures, with only a few small bundles of our belongings in my father’s hands and me in my mother’s arms. They deported us to harsh labor camps in Siberia and seized all our property. Our homes are gone forever, but at least this is a symbolic recognition of the injustice we suffered.”

My own mother, who was the same age as Romuald Lipinksi at the time, fled to Siberia with her brother in the days before the Lodz Ghetto was established in the winter of 1939. They were arrested and thrown into the Soviet jails — the infamous gulags — where my mother’s brother died and was buried in a potter’s field. Mom never realized she was a “survivor” because she did not experience the Nazi concentration camps. It was only after the war, when Mom came to Toronto and became a speaker for the Toronto Holocaust Center, that she realized how significant her little-known story was. Only then did she feel clear of the guilt that she had felt her entire life over surviving when her older brother, whom she had so admired and had depended upon, died. Only then did she realize that she, too, was a survivor.

It is up to our generation to create the dialogue with the people with whom we coexisted for nearly 1,000 years. We share a history, geography, and culture. Now that we Anglo-Polish Jews (who ended up in the UK, USA/Canada, and Australia/New Zealand) and Kresy Poles (who come from the Kresy region of Poland — the eastern borderlands) have been exiled from our Polish home, we have a common “new” language and a perspective. We share the feeling that the clock is ticking and soon our eyewitnesses will be gone. We know that the time is now for the story that needs to be part of the complicated historical account of World War II.

Jews have always been “Na’aseh v’Nishmah” people (from the biblical reference at Mount Sinai: “We shall obey and we shall hear”). Merely knowing that the story is complicated is not enough. The time has come, before our children become too old to learn from us, for us to shape the future and help others who have not been officially recognized for their loss and grief.

Anyone can be an activist. Join a Polish-Jewish dialogue group, or start one. Examine the intrigue, twists, and turns that have been the trademark of relations between neighbors by reading a book like “Between the Pages” by Erin Einhorn, and seeing movies like Andrze Wajda’s “Katyn,” which was part of the Wajda retrospective presented by Lincoln Center. (See page 31.) It will be widely distributed sometime soon. A British-made documentary, “A Forgotten Odyssey,” is another excellent source of information.

While many Jews belong to genealogy groups such as JewishGen.org, they may not know that they can also join the Kresy Siberia Group online, an international special-interest group of more than 750 survivors of the Soviet persecutions and their second- and third-generation descendants. Its objectives are to research, remember, and recognize the persecution of Polish citizens of all ethnic and religious backgrounds by the Soviet Union during World War II. Many volunteers on the list are helpful in translating Polish and Russian documents.

In short, it is not enough for us to visit the death camps and continue to teach our children the horrible fate suffered by our people there. We must also remember the country that was so beloved by the generations before us. It is so much harder to build the bridge than to cut ties. It is our turn to build a better tomorrow.

Lynda Kraar is a founding member of the international Kresy Siberia Virtual Museum project and president of Kraar Associates, a consulting firm specializing in the philanthropic sector. A Teaneck resident, she is the editor of her mother’s memoir, “Be Decent: Album of My Life,” which will be published in June by the Azrieli Foundation Holocaust Memoir Project in Canada. 

A Very Few Words about Ars Electronica

In Defense of the Run-Through.....
By Lynda Kraar

You enter a crowded room, filled with friends and loved ones. As you make your grand entrance, they stare, point at you, and then explode in a mocking sort of laughter. Perplexed, you look down and realize you are naked. You are shocked, stunned, mortified, terrified, humiliated. You awaken in a cold sweat, heart racing, grateful to know you are in your bed, safe and sound. They have a name for this kind of dream: A nightmare.

When it happens in real life, it's called a theatrical rehearsal. So there can be no question that the public (and especially children and critics) should be banned from ever witnessing a performance's technical run-through, and I even have my doubts about a dress rehearsal.

At Bergen Community College, we are fortunate to have opportunities to observe the work of other departments. It enables us to broaden our horizons and gain perspective on the work that goes into a cooperative production. Dr. Altman's Honours writing class was invited to observe a recent run-through for Ars Electronica: Suburban Landscapes, an interdisciplinary performance that incorporates stage, literary and fine arts on the theme of suburbia.
The performers may not be clear on the material.  Creative people are constantly tweaking their works. An accompanying musician may not be familiar with the tempo, melody or the chord changes. If they do not know the performance artist -- for instance, a dancer -- then it certainly will take a few times before everyone gets comfortable with each other's style, artistic personality as well as the integrity of the performance piece.

Because time is so precious and the opportunity to be onstage is so limited, sometimes a stage director will decide to hammer out a few chores at the same time, such as a rehearsal (in which the material is fine-tuned) together with a run-through (to make sure there is a good chemistry to the sequence) to the technical run-through (to make sure that those very special behind-the-scene technicians are familiar with a wide variety of matters such as the staging, backline, technology, lighting and the acoustics). 

As for the content, it seems to be an emerging art form. Suburbia is a new phenomenon. It is only natural that humans are creating art about it, because that is what we do. It's the non-verbal language of our collective experience, something to be handed down through the generations. We in New Jersey are in a unique environment. We have no cities to speak of -- and I'm not counting Newark or Trenton, which are more like satellites of New York and Philadelphia. For me, the content reflected the feeling of dissociation and anomie that suburbanites have: the lack of a nucleus that keeps us spinning around, trying to connect with others who share our feelings. We in suburbia are trying to create community in a place that was designed (on purpose!) not to have a brain center. In that sense -- and mea culpa, I say this not having seen the final production -- my sense is that the material reflected some of these ideas, and that New Jerseyans are witness to the nascent creative discourse of the suburban experience, and thus a cultural birth. Think of it like Robert Johnson inventing the blues, or Billie Holiday singing with Artie Shaw, breaking the colour barrier. Watching a cultural revolution emerge is not a bad thing.

It's only fair for me to profess that I've been on both sides of the stage and I know what it's like to have to either tweak a much-loved piece, or to tell a performer to cut a piece back by a few minutes, or worse -- to cut them out altogether. I've had to direct performers to face into the spotlight, or to move parts of set from stage left to stage right. I've had to modify set lists of my own material and leave out some of my precious gems. Theatrical microsurgery is very complicated and the egos are very delicate. The producers and performers alike must remember that they are also diplomats. That is usually one's most crucial role.

So if you're squeamish, do your best never to enter a roomful of friends in your birthday suit. And avoid theatrical run-throughs.

Setting exercise

Django and Stefan in the air
on a warm New Jersey night
By Lynda Kraar

I don't know how long I had been at the wheel until the all-night DJ on the big band station announced the time: four in the morning. He was four hours into his six-hour shift. As he announced his station's call letters, I realized he was somewhere in midwest, more than a thousand miles away. The signal was so clear that I was convinced it was being sent from a local community college. I used to listen to the rock and roll station in far-off Fort Wayne, Indiana, at this hour when I was a kid, nestled in my princess bedroom in my parents' house. It seems so long ago, yet, it really seems like yesterday, especially at this hour when your mind starts messing with you.

At four in the morning magical things happen -- things unknown to the sleeping world. From the well-lit highway I exited onto an old back road in western Monmouth County, listening to the strains of the Andrew Sisters, Glenn Miller and Charlie Christian. The saplings along the side of the barely paved lane were donning their nighttime spring buds, revealing shades of emerald, forest, and cadmium green as the road ahead glistened a steely, crackled chromium in the moonlight. LIke a deep sea diver surrounded by the eery shapes and sounds, I felt a rush of excitement about the summer, which, like sunrise, was just on the horizon.

The car rattled as I hit a pothole, and then another. I opened the window to drink in the damp night air.  The brooding sky churned and slept fitfully, laying in wait for the dawn song of the thrushes, starlings and robins. Moonbeams outlined the form of cumulus clouds, a silver lining on the blue blackness. At that moment the heavens had a personality and colour known only to cops on the beat, revellers returning from their soirees, street sweepers, insomniacs, chauffeurs finishing up a run to Atlantic City, and to gigging musicians like me. 

Irena's Vow: A Review

Irena’s Vow v. Dan Gordon's Vow:
The Hollywoodization of a Memoir
A review by Lynda Kraar

I’ve spent most of my life living in the shadow of my parents’ Holocaust experience. I’ve heard their own stories about death camps, murder, Siberia and heroic escapes that make anything I’ve ever done in my own life pale by comparison. It’s not even like hearing stories – it’s more like experiencing them. Dreaming about them. I’ve had nightmares about Nazis coming after me. The trauma and the horror osmose through the generations. There was a time when I believed it was possible at any time for Jews to be rounded up here at home. It’s now permeated a third generation as my own children are coming of age. They are now the stewards of that persecution complex.

Which brings me to the topic of Irena’s Vow, which my family saw this weekend at the Walter Kerr Theatre on W. 48th Street. Produced by Hollywood mogul Dan Gordon, I shudder to call it a Holocaust play. It’s the dramatization of certain events that occurred in the life of a young Polish Catholic woman who was at the right place at the right time when she was able to rescue a total of thirteen Jews from certain death in Nazi-ruled Poland during World War II. It was a combination of her faith, her good judgment and her guts that enabled her to pull off an incredible feat – hiding Jews under the nose of the highest-ranking German officer in Tarnopol, a city in eastern Poland that got sandwiched between the Nazi invasion from the west and the Soviets in the east.

When we meet Irena, she is an elderly woman who is addressing us, and we are a group of students at school. She soon departs from this framing device and begins to tell her story as she sheds her high heels, removes her long pearl necklace and morphs into a teenager.

Irena is eighteen years old when her town is overrun by the Soviets. She is arrested, savagely beaten and raped, left for dead, and then hospitalized. When the Germans push back, Irena is sent to work in a Nazi munitions factory where she meets and befriends several Jewish workers. She witnesses the execution of Jews in a village square, including a baby that has been ripped from its screaming mother’s arms. Irena’s vow is to save as many lives as she can.

The factory boss, the almost-benevolent elder Nazi officer, Major Eduard Rugemer, takes a shine to Irena. He hires her to be his personal housekeeper in his new villa, a house that has been confiscated from a Jewish family for his purposes. By a quirk of circumstances and timing, she is able to hide her Jewish friends from the factory in the coal cellar. A married couple among the hidden Jews, Lazar and Ida Hallar, decides to continue a pregnancy after Irena convinces them this is the will of God, and baby Roman Hallar is born in the cellar, according to the plotline. There are anecdotes of near-discoveries that were heroically diverted. The turning point comes when Irena must barter her virtue in order to make good on her vow. She becomes the major’s mistress. The union of a Nazi officer and a Polish maidservant causes them both to be shunned by their respective communities after the war. The play ends with Irena telling her student audience to make the world a better place and to eradicate hatred.

The problem with the play is a common one with this theme – how do you condense the length and breadth of the story into an hour and a half? The answer is that you truly can’t, but you can offer a few carefully weighted anecdotes and headlines. The crystallization of the facts sets off a chain reaction: The plot will suffer and the depth of the characters will never truly come to life; the acting never gets deep enough (despite multiple Emmy and Tony award winner Tovah Feldshuh's consistent performance); and the audience will be unsatisfied. My other observation is that although we, the audience, were supposed to be a crowd of students, this was mostly the AARP crowd. Is this story reaching the new generation, as Irena Gut Opdyke would have wished?

There were other problems with the script. There was an inappropriate use of comedy that served as nothing more than a distraction. With his lofty credentials, surely Gordon could have crafted a better way to demonstrate Irena's sense of humour. There was also a barrage of trivial facts. How does one decide what facts to leave out for sake of the story line’s integrity? The dramatization process caused certain key facts to be omitted from the actual story.  Or worse – to embellish certain facts. Or even to lie when necessary. We never find out that some of the hidden Jews were in another location. Or that the Hallar baby was actually born in a cottage and not in the cellar of the house, as Gordon would have us believe.

The real performance came at the end. There was a “Q &A” after the curtain that featured a special guest, Jeannie Opdyke Smith, daughter of Irena Opdyke. 

From Irena’s daughter we were privy to some vital background – that Irena had been “discovered” on a radio talk show by Gordon who happened to be listening at the time. He called Irena, and vowed he would tell her story. We also learned what became of the Nazi major. After the war, Herr Rugemer went back to his hometown in Germany. His fellow countrymen and peers turned their backs on him because he had been consorting with a Polish woman. Once a powerful member of the Nazi party, the aging man was left to wander the streets in poverty and anonymity.

Back in Poland the Hallars hear about Rugemer’s fate. They fetched him and brought him to live in their house. Their son, Roman, now a boy, grew up with him, and called him “grandfather.” This factoid received a collective gasp from the audience. 

It was good to have this reality check. I came away from the play mostly feeling that I join the chorus of critical voices who say Dan Gordon has taken too many liberties with the memoir. We are living in dangerous times: Holocaust hoax memoirs abound, the latest being "Angel at the Fence." This story came to prominence after being heralded by Oprah Winfrey, but after a renowned genealogist helped expose the fraud, Oprah had no choice but to call the bluff. As the editor of a Holocaust memoir, I personally know that staying true to the story is the most essential element. In the case of Irena’s Vow, less should have been more.