(New York Jewish Week) — On the evening of Dec. 25 — yes, Christmas — influential aughties Yiddish rock band Yiddish Princess will take the stage in Manhattan for a one-night-only reunion show.
Billing itself “the world’s favorite Yiddish rock band,” Yiddish Princess was founded in New York City circa 2006 by vocalist Sarah Mina Gordon and Michael Winograd, who is best known as a klezmer clarinetist but plays synthesizer in this band. Over the course of a few years, Yiddish Princess played numerous gigs in the city and abroad and released one eponymous EP in 2010 before going on, as Gordon calls it, “a semi-permanent hiatus.”
Now, for the first time in more than a decade, the group — which also features guitarists Avi Fox-Rosen and Yoshie Fruchter and bassist Ari Folman-Cohen — will reunite for a show at Bowery Electric (327 Bowery) as part of the wide-ranging Yiddish New York festival taking place throughout the city from from Saturday, Dec. 23 through Thursday, Dec. 28.
“They’re a supergroup,” said Aaron Bendich, the founder of Borscht Beat, an independent Jewish cultural project focused on Yiddish music, who was instrumental in booking the reunion show. “Each of them, in their own right, and in sub-configurations, are super-active in the Yiddish music scene or klezmer music scene and have their own other albums and projects.”
Gordon, whom Bendich describes as a “major figure” in New York’s Yiddish music scene, is a native New Yorker who grew up steeped in Yiddish culture — her mother, Adrienne Cooper, who died in 2011, was considered “the mother of the Yiddish revival movement.” Gordon appeared on her mother’s albums, and she also collaborates with modern-day klezmer greats like Frank London and Daniel Kahn. But she initially formed Yiddish Princess — with its raucous, ’80s glam-rock style — as a way to forge her own path.
“It was really kind of a playful thing,” Gordon, 44, told the New York Jewish Week about the band’s origins. “I was really trying to find something that was mine. It really came out of a sense of play and fun.”
Gordon, who resides in Brooklyn near the “klezmer shtetl” of Midwood and is also a teacher at Brooklyn Friends School, describes Yiddish Princess as having “big rock sounds that are very influenced by the music of our childhoods in the 80s and 90s,” citing personal heroes like Kate Bush, Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper.
“Real powerhouses,” she added.
Yiddish Princess’ website, which was last updated in 2013, describes the band’s sound this way: “Double guitar onslaught. Drums beating you into submission. Precious analog synths beckoning. And a voice that can shatter ice and coo you into mellifluous bliss.”
For Gordon, who sings in Yiddish, the band “was a way of inviting people into Yiddish in a different way,” she said. “There was real freedom in being like, ‘This is a rock show, we’re not going to translate.’ It’s unapologetic. If you don’t get this, that’s OK, this is for us.”
Many fans, of course, “get” what Yiddish Princess is doing — and what sets the band apart from other Jewish “fusion” acts out there isn’t just their musicianship.
“You can’t do genre-melding without genuine investment in both genres being melded,” Bendich said. “And it is an all-too-common, particularly in Jewish music, phenomenon where people only really buy into the Jewish half of the puzzle, and then they make a disingenuous rock album or something. But Yiddish Princess is pretty much all-in on both halves. That’s the magic of it.”
The reunion, said Gordon, is intended to be a one-time thing. Though there was no official breakup of the band — nor scandals or huge dramas a la VH1’s “Behind the Music” — its members, while remaining close friends and collaborators, have simply grown up and moved on to other things.
“I feel very honored to continue to be part of that [Yiddish music] tradition,” Gordon said. “I think that there’s a lot of space to play, and I think that Yiddish Princess is an exercise in that. And it’s really nice that it has brought joy to people and continues to.”
As for Monday night’s show, Gordon said the audience can expect to hear all the songs on Yiddish Princess’ EP and more. “I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun,” she said. “And loud.”
Yiddish Princess will play Dec. 25 at 9 p.m. at Bowery Electric (327 Bowery). For additional information on Yiddish New York, click here.
The post A Yiddish rock supergroup will reunite for one Manhattan show on Dec. 25 appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Harvard Alumni File Lawsuit Claiming Campus Antisemitism ‘Devalues’ Their Diplomas
A group of ten Harvard University alumni filed a lawsuit against the institution on Wednesday, accusing it of “devaluing” their degrees through permitting and fostering an environment of antisemitism, support for terrorism, and anti-Israel sentiment.
Filed in a Massachusetts federal court, the alumni claims that Harvard has breached an implicit contract with its graduates, promising to maintain the institution’s prestige, which they allege has been compromised due to a toxic campus environment. This, they argue, has led potential employers and prestigious law firms to distance themselves from Harvard alumni.
“Harvard has directly caused the value and prestige of plaintiffs’ Harvard degrees to be diminished and made a mockery out of Harvard graduates in the employment world and beyond,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit argues that the university’s administration has failed to combat campus anti-semitism, and has consistently overlooked assaults on Jewish students and calls by students and faculty for the annihilation of Israel. It highlighted, among other things, an open letter signed by more than thirty student organizations blaming Israel for the October 7 Hamas-led attack, and campus protests which included chants like “Long live the intifada!” and “There is only one solution: intifada revolution!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab!”
The suit also points to then-Harvard president Claudine Gay’s testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where she stated that calls for genocide against Jews would only violate bullying and harassment policies “depending on the context,” as indicative of the school’s tolerance of antisemitism.
The lawsuit is part of a growing dissatisfaction among graduates over what they perceive as rampant antisemitism on U.S. campuses, according to attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of legal aid group, Shurat HaDin, who is representing the alumni alongside New York-based lawyer, Robert Tolchin.
Darshan-Leitner criticized the colleges for becoming “hate centers” under the guise of academic freedom.
The lawsuit, Darshan-Leitner said, reveals the “growing outrage and contempt that graduates all across the US are feeling over the wild antisemitism and hate speech being encouraged and explained away on the American campuses.”
“This dangerous weaponization of higher education by radical faculty and students as well as the impotent administration response, all justified under the guise of academic freedom, has turned the colleges into hate centers which has greatly devalued their reputation and diplomas,” she said, adding that the suit could prompt similar actions from graduates of other institutions.
Tolchin accused the university of succumbing to “the flavor of the month, the lowest level of discourse.”
“Harvard’s seal proclaims “Light and Truth” in Latin and Hebrew–yes, Hebrew, the language spoken by the indigenous Israelites. Yet light and truth have been hard to find at Harvard. The darkness of antisemitism and the dishonesty, hate, and discrimination have cast a pall over Harvard so embarrassing that people do not wish to be associated with Harvard,” Tolchin said.
Harvard has been accused of facilitating an educational environment that is unwelcoming to Israelis and Jews for years, with the lawsuit citing annual events such as “Israel Apartheid Week” and incidents targeting Jewish students and symbols on campus.
Antisemitism expert Dara Horn, a Harvard alumnus who was asked to join Gay’s anti-Semitism advisory committee, authored a damning essay published this week in The Atlantic in which she detailed the Jew hatred on campus predating October 7.
She noted that staff members “who grade Jewish students used university-issued class lists to share information about events organized by pro-Palestine groups;” In one instance, a professor continued teaching after rejecting the findings of an investigation by Harvard after he was found discriminating against several Israeli students. Last spring, a student was asked to leave because her identity as an Israeli was making her classmates “uncomfortable.”
She also pointed to courses themselves “premised on anti-Semitic lies”, pointing to one called “The Settler Colonial Determinants of Health”, and noted that lecturers invited to speak at the campus included some who peddled in blood libels that Israelis harvest Palestinians’ organs or that the IDF uses Palestinian children for weapons testing.
“The mountain of proof at Harvard revealed a reality in which Jewish students’ access to their own university (classes, teachers, libraries, dining halls, public spaces, shared student experiences) was directly compromised,” Horn writes. The alumni’s legal action comes alongside another lawsuit filed by six current Harvard students on January 10, claiming that the university has not done enough to combat antisemitism on campus which had become a “bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.” It also comes a day after a professor at the university, Walter Johnson, resigned from two anti-Zionist campus groups after they posted antisemitic cartoons.
The post Harvard Alumni File Lawsuit Claiming Campus Antisemitism ‘Devalues’ Their Diplomas first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Israel Not Budging After Eurovision Disapproval of Song Commemorating October 7
Israeli Culture Minister Miki Zohar sent the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) a letter on Thursday urging them to approve Israel’s submission to the Eurovision song competition, after the EBU called it “too political.”
“As you know, the State of Israel is experiencing one of the most difficult and complex periods since its establishment. We lost our loved ones, and there are women, men and children who are still held captive by a terrorist organization,” Zohar said.
Israeli media reported that the broadcasting union would not approve the song, called “October Rain,” after a number of countries even issued threats to boycott the event if Israel participates. The EBU issued a statement saying “We are currently in the process of carefully examining the lyrics of the song – a process that is confidential between the EBU and the Public Broadcasting Corporation until a final decision is made. To all broadcasters, they have until March 11th to officially submit their songs. If a song does not meet the criteria for any reason, the corporation will be given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, according to the contest rules.”
“The song that Israel sent to the Eurovision Song Contest was chosen by a professional committee made up of well-known names in the local music and entertainment industry,” Zohar added. “It is a moving song, discussing renewal and revival from a very fragile reality of loss and destruction, and describes the current public mood in Israel these days. We see now most clearly because our lives – as one, united society – manage to overcome even the greatest suffering. This is not a political song.”
Despite the news that the song by Israeli singer Eden Golan would not be approved, The CEO of KAN, Israel’s national broadcasting service, and the body that approves the song, Golan Yokhpaz, said “We will not change the words or the song, even at the cost of Israel not participating in Eurovision this year.” Adding “The Israel Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) is in dialogue with the EBU regarding the song that will represent Israel at Eurovision.”
Zohar said later in a television interview “The songwriters, KAN, and the singer will have to make the decisions at the end of the day… I do think that Israel should participate in Eurovision because it is important for us at this time to be represented there, and to express ourselves throughout Europe.”
Speaking to the EBU, he said, “We trust that you will continue in your important task of keeping the competition free from any attempt at political manipulation.”
The post Israel Not Budging After Eurovision Disapproval of Song Commemorating October 7 first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
UN Representative to the Palestinians Claims Israelis Are ‘Colonialists’ with ‘Fake Identities’
The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to the Occupied Palestinian Territories referred to Israelis as “colonialists” who have “fake identities” while quoting another Twitter/X account on Wednesday, raising questions about the impartiality of the international body.
She highlighted the following quote from Mizrahi: “free Palestine scares them [Westerners] bcs it is the ghost of their own sins, rediscovered as a living, breathing human. The current political structures of colonial projects cannot afford it, so they try to uproot it. Bcs it is a fight between all colonialists and their fake identities.”
” free Palestine scares them bcs it is the ghost of their own sins, rediscovered as a living, breathing human. The current political structures of colonial projects cannot afford it, so they try to uproot it. Bcs it is a fight between all colonialists and their fake identities..” https://t.co/N1wkOPgKJs
— Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) February 21, 2024
The original post claimed that “All colonial powers work together to guarantee the supremacy of made-up identities over genuine, native ones. Because if this model breaks anywhere, it will collapse everywhere.”
Mizrahi argued that “A Palestinian state would be a major, major moral blow to white, Western colonialism.”
The tweet was met with immediate condemnation.
David Friedman, who served as the US Ambassador to Israel from 2017 to 2021 under former President Donald Trump wrote that her tweet was “Exhibit A why the UN is a failure and why we no longer belong in that bastion of hypocrisy and corruption.”
An account documenting Hamas’ October 7 atrocities asked, “If Israel is indeed a ‘colonialist project’ Where should all the Israelis go if this project should be dismantled?”
The perception of UN bias against Israel has also been boosted by the fact that, in 2023, Israel was condemned twice as often as all other countries combined.
It is not the first time Albanese has made comments that raise eyebrows. Earlier this month, in response to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron calling the October 7 attack “largest anti-Semitic massacre of the 21st century,” she said “No, Mr. Macron. The victims of October 7 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.”
Following backlash, she wrote that she opposes “all racism, including anti-Semitism, a global threat. But explaining these crimes as anti-Semitism obscures their true cause.”
Hamas’ founding charter, in a section about the “universality” of its cause, reads: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
Albanese has also argued that Israel should make peace with Hamas, saying that “It needs to make peace with Hamas in order to not be threatened by Hamas.”
When asked about what people do not understand about Hamas, she added, “If someone violates your right to self-determination, you are entitled to embrace resistance.”
The post UN Representative to the Palestinians Claims Israelis Are ‘Colonialists’ with ‘Fake Identities’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.