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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACTS: Terri Berns
561-297-1164, tberns@fau.edu or
Carol Lewis
561-297-0245, clewis36@fau.edu

Celebration of Yiddish Culture Begins This Month at FAU

KULTUR: Exploring Jewish Culture in the Fine and Performing Arts

BOCA RATON, FL (October 11, 2007) – Florida Atlantic University Libraries kicks off its 2007-2008 KULTUR series this month with a KlezFestJam, an interactive performance that invites guests to participate in an improvised finale on Sunday, October 28, at 3 p.m., on the fifth floor of the S.E. Wimberly Library on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.

This is the fifth year for the series, which began as a grassroots effort to explore Yiddish language and culture through presentations by local and national experts and creative events. This year’s theme is “KULTUR: Exploring Jewish Culture in the Fine and Performing Arts.”

“The evolution of Yiddish and its Spanish relative, Ladino, is integral to the Jewish heritage and extends beyond the spoken language,” said Aaron Kula, director of music collections and performance at FAU Libraries and KULTUR’s chairman. “Although both languages were vibrant for more than 1,000 years, only a fractionof today’s younger Jewish population speaks Yiddish or Ladino.”

“In spite of diminishing speakers, there is a global interest in the creative expression of this culture through music, theater and art,” said Kula. “Modern interpretations of Jewish ideology through art have generated a resurgence of interest in learning about Jewish cultures and languages. It is the mixture of continuity and change that creates a fascinating yet complex pluralistic heritage.”

The KlezFestJam will feature Kula with members of the Klezmer Company Orchestra who will demonstrate the creative process of improvising traditional Klezmer and Yiddish songs from the FAU Libraries’ Jewish Music Collections. The audience can participate in a sing-along of familiar songs and ask questions. Guests may also bring instruments and join in an improvised Freylach finale.

As part of the KULTUR series, Alexandra Bracie, daughter of renowned artist Arthur Szyk, will present a film screening and lecture, “Memories of My Father, the Artist Arthur Szyk,” on Sunday, November 4, at 3 p.m.   Bracie, who lives in Highland Beach, will share memories of her father, who lived from 1894 to 1951, and is considered a master of miniature paintings, book illustrations and illuminated manuscripts such as The Haggadah and The Book of Esther. Szyk was considered the foremost political artist of his day and known as “Franklin Roosevelt’s Soldier in Art.” Eleanor Roosevelt declared that “his work fought the Axis powers as truly as any of us who cannot actually be on the fighting fronts.” Bracie’s lecture will help to highlight the Szyk exhibition, which opens Thursday, November 1, at the S.E. Wimberly Library.

Joe Elias will perform authentic music of the Sephardic Jews, with Maurice Sedacca on guitar, on Friday, December 7 at 1:30 p.m.   Elias was born and raised in the oral tradition of Ladino music, and has traveled to every corner of the Ladino-speaking world performing and collecting folksongs.

Scholar Nahma Sandrow will present “Vagabonds of Yiddish Theatre” on Wednesday, January 23 at 4 p.m. Sandrow, professor emeritus of English at Bronx Community College, and author of Vagabond Stars: A World History of Yiddish Theater and God, Man and Devil: Yiddish Plays In Transition, has also written two award winning off-Broadway musicals based on Yiddish theater material.

Marsha Bryan Edelman, professor of music and education at Gratz College, and author of Discovering Jewish Music, will round out the series on Thursday, February 14, at 3:30 p.m. with her lecture “Chants or Chance: What is Jewish Music?” A cantor chants a liturgical melody, a mother sings a lullaby, and a Klezmer band plays a folk tune. How can all of these represent Jewish music?

All events will be on the fifth floor of the S.E. Wimberly Library on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. All programs are free and open to the public. Reservations are not available and seating is limited.

The Friends of KULTUR and Yiddish at FAU, based at FAU Libraries, is committed to developing the study of Yiddish language and culture, which upholds its mission to support the scholarly endeavors and provide information to local, regional, national and international communities.

The series is funded by FAU Libraries and is supported by the Friends of KULTUR and Yiddish at FAU. Members receive advance notice of KULTUR events. For more information, call the FAU Libraries’ at 561-297-2116, visit its web-site at www.library.fau.edu/news/news.htm or e-mail librariespr@fau.edu.

                                                  -FAU-

 

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