Connect with us


How this Brooklyn neighborhood became the ‘Klezmer Shtetl’

(New York Jewish Week) — Some of the greatest talents in Jewish music have strolled Midwood’s lettered avenues, including the klezmer musician Pete Sokolow and the Hasidic composer Ben Zion Shenker. Both have left us — Sokolow in 2022, Shenker in 2016 — but the Modzitzer synagogue on Avenue L, where Shenker once lead prayers, is a spiritual home for klezmer virtuoso and Midwood denizen Andy Statman, 73. He’s davened (prayed) there for more than 30 years.

Now, a younger group of klezmer musicians joins Statman in making the quiet, south-central Brooklyn neighborhood their home, due to the (relatively) affordable rents, low density and greenery, as well as its proximity to Jewish communal life spread across the borough.

“We needed more room than Park Slope could provide on our budget,” Pete Rushefsky, who has played a hammered dulcimer known as the tsimbl in the city’s klezmer scene for more than 30 years, told the New York Jewish Week. “It’s been a great neighborhood to raise a family.” That’s especially true for a culturally active family: Rushefsky’s wife, Madeline Solomon, sings, plays accordion and runs the Brooklyn Workers Circle School in Park Slope; their 12-year-old daughter, Mathilda, plays in a children’s fiddle band in the neighborhood.

Midwood looms so large over the present-day Jewish music scene that there’s even a klezmer rock band named for it: Midwood, the band, was founded in 2015 by the fiddler Jake Shulman-Ment. The 39-year-old veteran klezmer violinist lives in the same apartment building on Ocean Avenue as Jeremiah Lockwood, a blues performer and a scholar of cantorial music.

“I call it the ‘Klezmer Shtetl,’” said Midwood’s vocalist, Eleonore Weill, who is also a multi-instrumentalist. (Weill used to reside in Midwood but now lives in next-door Ditmas Park, which is also home to Sarah Gordon, lead singer of the rock band Yiddish Princess. Nearby Kensington counts among its klezmer-making residents D. Zisl Slepovitch and the klezmer couple Ilya Shneyveys and Sarah Myerson.)

Another Midwood musician is Michael Winograd, 40, who many consider to be the best klezmer clarinetist of his generation. As a teenager, he went to Statman’s home for lessons; last summer he moved to the neighborhood.

Midwood musicians Jeremiah Lockwood, left, and Pete Rushefsky. (Courtesy)

Elsewhere in Midwood resides guitarist Yoshie Fruchter, founder of Pitom, which the Tzadik record label called “a shredding Jewish instrumental band.” Fruchter has performed with Jon Madof’s Zion80, which plays Shlomo Carlebach tunes in an Afrobeat style, and Mazal Tov Cocktail Party, the latest klezmer/dance music project led by David Krakauer and Kathleen Tagg.

“I didn’t choose Midwood, particularly,” Shulman-Ment told New York Jewish Week. “It sort of fell into my life.” The fiddler decided to rent his Midwood one-bedroom in the summer of 2021 while he was on tour in the Pacific Northwest. After seeing the place online and sending a couple of friends to check it out in person, Shulman-Ment signed a lease while he was still on the road.

As it happens, Lockwood — who lives with his two sons, ages 14 and 16, on the floor below Shulman-Ment — also rented his apartment sight unseen that same summer.

The two neighbors credit Ivona Hertz, co-owner of Ocean Empire Management, with helping them find a home. Her company manages a pair of buildings across from Prospect Park that are home to so many jazz musicians, they came to be known as “the jazz dorms.”

“When the tenants are happy they always recommend their friends,” Hertz said, describing how she came to rent Midwood apartments to so many musicians. “That’s how the ‘jazz dorms’ were created and that’s how the Midwood buildings are now getting more musicians. The apartments are larger, up to three bedrooms, including the square footage, and more affordable in Midwood.”

According to the available rentals on the real estate website StreetEasy, the median rent in Midwood is $2,566. (Hertz, the property manager known for helping musicians, says she typically charges between $1,500 and $1,750 a month for one-bedroom rentals.) The median sale price in the nabe for the first quarter of this year was $644,000, according to the real estate website PropertyShark — that’s substantially less than the Brooklyn borough-wide median of $755,000.

In addition to relatively low housing costs, Midwood is also known for being home to a very large — and mostly Orthodox — Jewish community. Traditionally Ashkenazi, the southern reaches of the neighborhood have also seen steady growth of its longtime Sephardic Jewish community. “Sephardic Jews dominate from [an area known as the] Avenue H cut to Avenue Z,” Sarina Roffe, CEO of the The Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative and president of the Sephardic Heritage Project, told the New York Jewish Week. “The Sephardic community in Brooklyn has been growing for more than 100 years.”

Most of these newer, klezmer residents identify as secular Jews, and not Orthodox. But many of them said they enjoy living among their Orthodox brethren. Clarinetist Winograd lives in part of Midwood that’s “very Jewish,” as he described it. “I kind of like being a secular Jew who gets to experience the benefit of a quiet Shabbes. I enjoy being a culturally-engaged Jew living in a Jewish neighborhood even if I’m not partaking in the more religious activities.”

Shulman-Ment — who identifies as a secular Jew who is committed to Jewish culture — spent a year living in Crown Heights, so he was familiar with the feeling of living in an Orthodox neighborhood and feeling like a bit of an outsider. He said he’s noticed, though, that if he’s in his “gig costume” — a suit and fedora — some of his Orthodox co-religionists offer a friendly greeting.

Lockwood described his (and Shulman-Ment’s) section of Midwood, along Ocean Avenue, as “rough-hewn and unlovely. It is a hard-working and threadbare place.” And yet, “I like it here fine,” he told the New York Jewish Week, adding: “I just don’t want to encourage out-of-towners to move in.”

Fruchter — who moved to Midwood last December with his wife, Jewish cookbook author Leah Koenig, and their two kids, aged 4 and 9 — said his area of Midwood has a lot of Pakistani residents, but on Saturday his family can often hear zemiros, hymns sung at the Sabbath table, coming from the homes of Orthodox neighbors down the block. “I really like how you see people from so many different places, cultures, religions and backgrounds all sharing the same sidewalks,” Fruchter told the New York Jewish Week via email. “I love walking by businesses with signs in different languages and restaurants where I have no idea what to order… I love that it’s a ‘quiet’ neighborhood but with a lot of bustle in it.”

Klezmer virtuoso Andy Statman, left, has lived in the neighborhood more than 30 years, while guitarist Yoshie Fruchter, right, is a more recent resident. (Courtesy)

The family is involved in the Flatbush Jewish Center, a Conservative egalitarian synagogue in the neighboring Kensington section of Brooklyn where Fruchter has served as cantor on the High Holy Days and organized a concert series.

Fruchter is also a member of Shulman-Ment’s band Midwood — whose recording of their live performance at the “Klezmer On Ice” festival in Minneapolis last winter will be released in the coming months. Midwood the band’s next gig is at the National Yiddish Book Center’s annual Yidstock festival in Amherst, Massachusetts on July 16.

Shulman-Ment will also be performing with the actor and musician Daniel Kahn on June 15 at the East Village world music venue Drom. The performance is timed to the release of the duo’s first album, “The Building & Other Songs,” which features Yiddish versions of songs by Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Woody Guthrie.

The other Midwood klezmer musicians with gigs to look forward to are Rushefsky — who is also the executive director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance — and Statman, who will both be playing with the violinist Itzhak Perlman in the coming months.

In addition, Statman plays in two trios: The Andy Statman Trio, which has performed at the Greenwich Village Synagogue in Manhattan regularly for 20 years, and another with the Eddy Brothers, two young West Virginia bluegrass musicians. More recently, Statman started playing with a traditional bluegrass quartet that’s comprised of players he’s known since he was a teenager. That band is now known as Andy’s Ramble, not to be confused with the 1994 Statman album of the same name.

Statman grew up in Queens and was in his mid-20s when he first moved to Brooklyn in 1976. After a series of apartments, he and his wife Basha moved to Avenue L in Midwood in 1987, where they raised their four children. “Our kids needed to be here. We needed to be here,” Statman said. “There is sky and trees and grass here. There are birds chirping all over. The neighborhood was incredibly vibrant.”

When he first arrived, Statman took a break from his music career for a year to study Jewish holy texts full time. In the 35 years since, he’s seen real estate values soar to a level he calls “ridiculous.” Statman said that since the early 2000s, he’s watched kids who grew up on his block move to Lakewood, New Jersey or Monsey in Rockland County — both home to sizable Orthodox Jewish communities — because they couldn’t afford to buy homes in Midwood. Now their parents are leaving, he added, because they want to be near their grandchildren.

It’s a fate the clarinetist is personally familiar with: None of his four children, now grown, live in the area. With two daughters and their grandchildren living near Lakewood, the Statmans are considering relocating there themselves.

The post How this Brooklyn neighborhood became the ‘Klezmer Shtetl’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


Canada’s economic growth projected to be about 1% in the first half of 2024

Canada is a country with a thriving Jewish community and has traditionally offered the security of a strong economy for residents. The national economic outlook is naturally something that everyone in Canada’s Jewish community keeps track of – especially those involved in business in the various provinces.

With this in mind, the July 2023 Monetary Policy Report from the Bank of Canada made for interesting reading, projecting a moderate economic growth figure of around 1% for the first half of 2024. This is in line with growth figures that had been forecast for the second half of 2023, and sees the country’s economy remain on a stable footing.

Steady projected growth for first half of 2024

Although projected economic growth of around 1% in early 2024 is not as impressive as figures of around 3.4% in 2022 and 1.8% in 2023, it is certainly no cause for alarm. But what might be behind it?

Higher interest rates are one major factor to consider and have had a negative impact on household spending nationally. This has effectively seen people with less spending power and businesses in Canada generating less revenue as a result.

Interest rate rises have also hit business investments nationally, and less money is being channelled into this area to fuel Canada’s economic growth. When you also factor in how the weak foreign demand for Canadian goods and services has hit export growth lately, the projected GDP growth figure for early 2024 is understandable.

Growth in second half of 2024 expected

Although the above may make for interesting reading for early 2024, the Bank of Canada’s report does show that economic growth is expected to pick up in the second half of the year. This is projected to be due to the decreasing effect of high interest rates on the Canadian economy and a stronger foreign demand for the country’s exports.

Moving forward from this period, it is predicted that inflation will remain at around 3% as we head into 2025, and hit the Bank of Canada’s inflation target of 2% come the middle of 2025. All of this should help the country’s financial status remain stable and prove encouraging for business leaders in the Jewish community.

Canada’s economic growth mirrors iGaming’s rise

When you take a look at the previous growth figures Canada has seen and also consider the growth predicted for 2024 (especially in the second half of the year), it is clear that the country has a vibrant, thriving economy.

This economic growth is something that can be compared with iGaming’s recent rise as an industry around the country. In the same way as Canada has steadily built a strong economy over time, iGaming has transformed itself into a powerful, flourishing sector.

This becomes even clearer when you consider that Canadian iGaming has been a major contributor to the sustained growth seen in the country’s arts, entertainment and recreation industry, which rose by around 1.9% in Q2 of 2023. The healthy state of online casino play in Canada is also evidenced by how many customers the most popular casino platforms attract and how the user experience these operators offer has enabled iGaming in the country to take off.

This, of course, is also something that translates to the world stage, where global iGaming revenues in 2023 hit an estimated $95 billion. iGaming’s global market volume is also pegged to rise to around $130 billion by 2027. These kinds of figures represent a sharp jump for iGaming worldwide and show how the sector is on the ascent.

Future economic outlook for Canada in line with global expectations

When considering the Canadian economic outlook for 2024, it is often useful to look at how this compares with global financial predictions. In addition to the rude health of iGaming in Canada being reflected in global online casino gaming, the positive economic outlook for the country is also broadly in line with expectations for many global economies.

Global growth is also predicted to rise steadily in the second half of 2024 before becoming stronger in 2025. This should be driven by the weakening effects of high interest rates on worldwide economic prosperity. With rate cuts in Canada already expected after Feb 2024’s inflation report, this could happen in the near future.

The performance of the US economy is always of interest in Canada, as this is the country’s biggest trading partner. Positive US Q2 performances in 2023, powered by a strong labor market, good consumer spending levels and robust business investments, were therefore a cause for optimism. As a US economy that continues to grow is something that Canadian businesses welcome, this can only be a healthy sign.

Canada set for further growth in 2024

Local news around Canada can cover many topics but the economy is arguably one of the most popular. A projected GDP growth figure of around 1% for Canada’s economy shows that the financial state of the country is heading in the right direction. An improved financial outlook heading into the latter half of 2024/2025 would make for even better reading, and the national economy should become even stronger.

Continue Reading


The Legal Landscape of Online Gambling in Canada

Online gambling has grown in popularity around the globe in recent years. While many jurisdictions have legalized land-based gambling, it hasn’t applied to online platforms. Nonetheless, Canada is one nation that has legalized online gambling with their provinces’ licensing and regulating sites.

Nonetheless, Canadians of legal age can enjoy playing their favourite online games where available. So many games like slots, blackjack, and roulette still maintain their popularity even in the digital sense.  Want to learn about what’s legal in Canada for online gambling? Let’s take a look.

What is legal for online gambling in Canada?

What is the best online casino in Canada? The list we provide you here should be a good start. It’s also important to note that most Canadian provinces do not have laws that prohibit offshore online casinos.

Many provinces provide licensing to online casinos. They even regulate them as well. For example, Alberta and British Columbia have sites regulated by their respective governing bodies. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) allows legal online gambling and oversees the services it offers to Maritime provinces such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

However, there are some caveats to address. In Newfoundland and Labrador, online gambling that is not offered by the ALC is considered illegal. Therefore, it is the only Canadian province as of 2024 that prohibits offshore options.

In terms of the legal age, there are three provinces where the legal age is 18: Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec. The remaining provinces establish 19 as the legal age for gambling including online.

Who are the regulatory bodies for gambling in Canada?

At the Federal level, the Canadian Gaming Association is the regulatory body for gambling in Canada. Thus, they cover both land-based and online gambling in the country. There are also provincial and regional regulatory bodies such as the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) – which covers the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador.  

The Western Canada Lottery Corporation covers Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon Territory. A handful of provinces also have their regulatory bodies covering lottery and gaming.

Canada requires online casinos that wish to accept players from the country to adhere to regulations and licensing. These licenses are provided by provincial regulatory bodies. When licensed, online casinos must follow the regulations and security standards.

However, there is the belief that many of the laws about gambling in Canada may be outdated. This could be because these laws were created long before the advent of the Internet. Therefore, such laws may need to be modernized. Nonetheless, online gambling for the most part is legal, just dependent on the province.

Are there any legal grey areas to discuss?

The grey area that is considered a concern pertains to the use of offshore sites. As mentioned earlier, Newfoundland and Labrador is believed to be the only province that prohibits it. Even online casinos with no licensing by Canadian or provincial authorities accept residents of the country.

On the players’ end, many Canadians are allowed to play at online casinos. However, they may be restricted from certain platforms. This is to ensure that the players themselves are protected from unknowingly playing on platforms that may be illegal. 

What are the other laws and regulations about online gambling in Canada?

Online casinos have implemented measures for responsible gambling. This includes providing support and resources to problem gamblers on their site. They are also restricted regarding the marketing and advertising aspects of promoting their platform. 

One restriction of note is that marketing that is targeted at minors is prohibited. Another prohibits professional athletes from appearing in online casino ads in Ontario.

Even offshore casinos must adhere to these laws and regulations. Especially if they have obtained a license from the provincial bodies that allow them to operate.

Canada’s online gambling is legal – but will things change

As it stands right now, the legality of online gambling in Canada seems to fall under the purview of provincial laws and regulations. Canadian citizens must perform their due diligence further to see which online casinos are allowed by their respective provinces. Just because it may be legal in one province, it may not be the same in others.

Nonetheless, the question is: will any laws relax certain restrictions? Will Newfoundland and Labrador change their tune regarding offshore casinos? It’s unclear what the future holds – but watch this space for any changes about online gambling in Canada.  

Continue Reading



Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.

Continue Reading

Copyright © 2017 - 2023 Jewish Post & News