Yiddish Culture Festival

Yiddish Culture Festival 2024

In Memoriam Professors Seth Brody, Dan Gillis, Sid Perloe, and Mel Santer

This free, informal gathering meets periodically to enjoy film, music and speakers encompassing Yiddish and Eastern European culture. It is not necessary to speak or understand Yiddish to fully enjoy these events.

COVID INFO: Except for the March 3 Klezmer Jam, meetings are held Sundays at 3pm (promptly!) in Stokes Hall Auditorium (which is large enough to allow for social distancing), and facemasks are optional. These conditions may change as the Covid pandemic situation evolves.

For more information or directions, contact Jeff Tecosky-Feldman (jtecosky [at] haverford.edu, 610-896-1199). All are welcome! Organizers: Andrew Cassell, Jeff Tecosky-Feldman.

NOTE: These programs will be held during inclement weather UNLESS the campus is closed, which happens only rarely. You should call campus security (610-896-1111) to check.


For more information, email Jeff Tecosky-Feldman at jtecosky [at] haverford.edu


Bringing old Jewish manuscripts to life: Discovering and recovering the nearly-lost Jewish music from Latvia

  Sunday, February 11
  3:00 p.m.
  Stokes Hall Auditorium

Ilya Shneyveys, with special guest Dan Blacksberg, present a live musical concert-lecture, Bringing old Jewish manuscripts to life: Discovering and recovering the nearly-lost Jewish music from Latvia.

In 1899 the young Latvian (non-Jewish) composition student Emilis Melngailis stumbled upon Yiddish folk singers in a small Baltic town. This chance encounter became the catalyst for his life-long obsession with ethnomusicology, without which these songs might have been lost forever. The story of Melngailis’ unique transcriptions of the songs and their recovery from obscurity is as fascinating as the songs themselves. In the 21st Century, young Latvian Jewish musicians including Ilya Shneyveys are working to bring these old songs back to life, through live performance, museum recordings, research articles, and an upcoming album with the Black Rooster Project. In his lecture Ilya will share details about his research and perform the music from the Melngailis Jewish Music Collection (as well as other klezmer repertoire) in a concert together with his long-time colleague and friend Dan Blacksberg.

Originally from Riga, Latvia, now based in Brooklyn, NY, Ilya Shneyveys (accordion) is a multi-instrumentalist, educator, composer, arranger, and producer of Yiddish music. With expertise spanning from traditional klezmer accordion to experimental and fusion projects, Ilya performs and teaches at Jewish festivals around the world, in venues ranging from your local synagogue catering hall to Carnegie Hall. Ilya is a founding member of Berlin’s Neukölln Klezmer Sessions and Shtetl Berlin, and a long-time faculty member of Yiddish Summer Weimar. His notable projects and collaborations include Forshpil, Alpen Klezmer, KaraYam, Caravan Orchestra, Dobranotch, Shekedina, Michael Winograd and The Klezmatics. Ilya has received multiple awards for his work.

Dan Blacksberg is a leading voice in Philadelphia's music community and a living master of klezmer trombone. Through performance, composition, and improvisation, he creates new territories to explore inside and across genres, forging new pathways between tradition and innovation. As a teacher and community music leader, he builds up all generations of musicians to become empowered and joyous rabble-rousers. As a teacher and culture bearer of klezmer trombone, Dan has been recognized as a Master Artist by the Canada Arts Council (2022). He has been on faculty at Temple University, Klezkanada, KlezKamp, and was an organizer of Yiddish New York. His students in trombone and improvisation can be found in leading roles across Philadelphia’s jazz, hip-hop, world music, and experimental music scenes.

Watch Ilya Shneyveys and Dan Blacksberg working on some backing tracks for their klezmer rhythm instruments class and the Black Rooster Project premiere at Juedische Woche Dresden.

Klezmer Jam

  Sunday, March 3
  2:00 p.m.—4:00 p.m.
  Kaiserman JCC

Klezmer Jam at the Kaiserman JCC, located at 45 Haverford Rd in Wynnewood (not at Haverford College!). Organized by musicians Marvin Weinberger and David Brown, this celebration of Klezmer music is for both musicians who want to learn and play along, as well as those who just want to listen, clap and even dance. The duo will lead the group (which may include other noted Philly area musicians!) in playing traditional Klezmer tunes and explore related Jewish musical genres. Musicians of all ages and skills are welcome, with sheet music provided. Non-musicians are encouraged to join in for enthusiastic listening. Feel free to bring a vegetarian snack to share. Marvin, co-founder of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, plays the violin, while David is a versatile composer and performer on various instruments. Online registration and contact info coming soon. This is a free event with donations appreciated.

Vortkunst: The Art of the Yiddish Word

  Sunday, March 31
  3:00 p.m.
  Stokes Hall Auditorium

A program of dramatic and humorous recitations from Yiddish literature in Yiddish with projected English translation. Followed by a conversation with Shane (in English). A unique opportunity to catch Shane while he is in Philly, and hear the story of an altar boy’s path to Yiddish Theatre.

Shane Baker has brought Yiddish culture to every continent (including Antarctica!), and starred internationally as Vladimir in his own Yiddish translation of Samuel Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT, most recently at Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theater in their first-ever Yiddish production. He is one of the most prominent proponents of Yiddish language, culture, and theater in New York today. As an actor, translator, and playwright, he teaches students to apply the skills of the Yiddish stage to their own interpretation of the literature. Shane serves as director of the Congress for Jewish Culture, a Yiddishist organization based in New York. In 2020, Shane received the Adrienne Cooper Dreaming in Yiddish Award.

Listen to a podcast with Shane Baker at the Yiddish Book Center.


* indicates required


Enter the campus by the College Ave (back) entrance which is just opposite from 780 College Ave (NOT the Lancaster Ave/Rt 30 main entrance). Stokes Hall is the first building you see on the left as you enter campus. You can continue straight or make the first left in front of Stokes Hall to find parking. Park in any spot marked FACULTY/STAFF – you cannot park in spaces marked for STUDENTS.

  • Chase Hall
    Stokes Hall

  Support the Festival

We need your contribution to support this ongoing celebration of Yiddish culture, so please send a check made out to Haverford College, with Yiddish Culture Festival written on the check or on an accompanying note to: Haverford College, Advancement Services, 370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041.

Support the Festival