Alex Jacobowitz: Der klassischer Klezmer Alex Jacobowitz: Der klassischer Klezmer
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Jewish Week New York City (Oct 18, 2007)
A Klez Shot For The Ages



Yale Strom, with camera, enjoys the fruits of his photo-shoot project. LEO SOREL
by George Robinson

It was the perfect “l’dor va-dor” moment, from generation to generation.
Of course, klezmer clarinet legend Dave Tarras wasn’t there, but his son Sy and his granddaughter Stephanie, klezmorim both, were. Poet-singer Baeyle Schaechter-Gottesman was present with her son, Itzik, who runs Yiddishland Records. And a profusion of Klezmatics, Metropolitan Klezmers and the like, not to mention Der Gojim from Amsterdam and Alex Jacobowitz from Germany.
They had all gathered on the steps of the Eldridge Street Synagogue — which is marking the completion of its long-running restoration — to have their picture taken in a lively invocation of the famous 1957 Art Kane photo “A Great Day in Harlem,” a collection of many of the greatest klezmer and Yiddish musicians in the world
today. (Kane was a rookie art director at Esquire who brought together dozens of jazz musicians on a Harlem stoop; the photo shoot later became a celebrated documentary.)
A half-century later, more than 100 musicians were present for the Eldridge Street photo at the invitation of Yale Strom, violinist, Yiddishist, photographer, filmmaker and, now, organizer of perhaps the largest gathering of Jewish music talent in one place since the decline of the Borscht Belt.
“It’s a ‘Kiddush hashem’ [sanctification of God] that this has been done,” said Zalmen Mlotek, the son of prominent Yiddish music scholars and a fixture on the Yiddish music scene. “The fact that it is being done at the Eldridge Street Synagogue is not to be lost; for me that’s one of the most poignant aspects of the event.”
Strom was dancing about the room in which the musicians were assembled beforehand, chatting with old friends and making new ones, giving interviews, shooting photos and reveling in the assemblage of talent he had brought together.
“It’s amazing to walk down this street,” exclaimed Annette Ezekiel of Golem. It was also a little difficult, with orange traffic cones cordoning off one end of Eldridge Street and a single police office in a squad car just north of the synagogue building. At one point while the musicians were being shuffled and sorted on the steps, a trio of Chinese food deliverymen with handcarts were being held back.
In a moment reminiscent of the old socialist-communist spirit of the Yiddish Lower East Side, dozens of the assembled musicians began chanting, “Let them through, let them through.” And the crowd of spectators parted to watch them continue on their way.
But the moment that summed up the entire event had taken place earlier when photographer Leo Sorel (who had cautioned the artists earlier, “Art Kane took over 100 shots for his photo”) told the multigenerational group, “Everybody look forward please.”
To the next generation of Yiddish musicians, that is.