No Need to Kvetch, Yiddish Lives On in Catskills
Don't get me wrong. I love Yiddish. I love the Catskills (here and here).
It's just this this gushiness is so suspect.
KERHONKSON, N.Y. — ...For almost a week at a hotel here, organizers immerse the group, which calls itself KlezKamp, in Yiddish and the folkways of the Eastern Europeans who spoke that language until Hitler extinguished their communities. Classes are offered in Yiddish conversation, humor and literature; in klezmer — the sometimes plaintive, sometimes mischievous folk music that has experienced an astonishing comeback — and in the snaking, coiling, hand-clapping dances animated by those melodies....
Not only were the evening music and dance programs a tribute to vigorous life, but those who took part in the courses — more than 50 were offered, with six sessions apiece — also seemed to revel in the chance to reacquaint themselves with the unmatched expressions they had heard from their bubbes (grandmothers) and zaydes (grandfathers) and the dance steps they had not done since a cousin’s bar mitzvah long ago.
Words tossed about during the week included not just those like kvetch and kibitz, which have entered American idiom, but also fresher candidates like shreklekh (terrible or frightening), naches (prideful joy), farblondget (mixed up) and luftmensch (an impractical person with no apparent income).
Henry Sapoznik, a Ukrainian cantor’s son who helped found KlezKamp in 1984, calls it a “Yiddish Brigadoon,” a gathering, like the Scottish village in that 1947 musical, that comes to life once in a long while after a lengthy snooze. His co-founder, Adrienne Cooper, calls it “a flying shtetl.” But both say that over 25 years the thousands who have taken part have knitted together into a group that stays in touch year round...Mr. Sapoznik said. “But what we’re doing here is creating a parallel universe, our own free-standing reality.”
...Mr. Sapoznik estimated that 15 to 20 percent of participants were not Jewish. About half are musicians hankering to hone skills with human artifacts like Pete Sokolow, 69, who as a professional musician in the fading klezmer days of the 1950s played piano with legends like the four Epstein brothers and Dave Tarras.
...Everyone seems on a mission to recapture and resurrect, but the work is not just about mining the past. The musicians, for example, are inventing new melodies with a klezmer lilt but flavored with jazz, rock and even salsa...
A bi gezunt!