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Playlist: Jewish History Editors' Picks

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: <a  href="http://www.flickr.com/people/ableman/">Scott Ableman</a>
Image by: Scott Ableman 
Curated Playlist

Extraordinary reporting, jubilant music, and riveting storytelling perfect for your station's programming around the Jewish holidays, and all year long.

Hour (49:00-1:00:00)

Brooklyn According to Kalish

From Jon Kalish | 58:53

Veteran public radio reporter Jon Kalish's 16-year journey into the Orthodox Jewish community of Brooklyn.

Default-piece-image-1 In 1983 New York-based radio reporter Jon Kalish started covering the Orthodox and Chasidic Jews of Brooklyn for NPR. In 1999 he produced "Brooklyn According to Kalish" for WNYC. The hour-long documentary utilizes recordings Kalish made for pieces he produced for "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition," "Weekend Edition," as well as WNYC and other outlets. Rich in sound and featuring the extraordinary access Kalish gained in the close-knit Orthodox world, this program explores all aspects of the lives of religious Jews as seen through the eyes of Kalish, who is Jewish but grew up outside the realm of Torah-observant Jews. From the yeshivas of Flatbush to the bungalows of the Catskills where Brooklyn chasidim summer, "Brooklyn According to Kalish" explains the mysterious world of the black hats to secular Jews and Gentiles alike. Broadcast on WNYC, WBUR, WBEZ and KCRW. Ideal for Chanukah and Passover programming. Some animals were harmed in the preparation of this program.

ONLY IN AMERICA: Program 1. The First Jews

From RadioArt(r) | Part of the ONLY IN AMERICA: 350 Years of the American Jewish Experience series | 58:28

America provided refuge from ancient European prejudice, persecution and poverty. "The First Jews" tells the little-known early history of Jews in Colonial America, from New Amsterdam to Charleston, SC.

Oaprxlogo_small America provided refuge from ancient European prejudice, persecution and poverty. "The First Jews" tells the little-known early history of Jews in Colonial America, from New Amsterdam to Charleston, SC. John Lithgow reads letters from Peter Stuyvesant to The Dutch West India Company asking permission to expel these Jews, calling them "blasphemers of the name of Christ." Permission was refused. Thus began a 350-year struggle for survival and acceptance. The story concludes with the American Revolution, the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and their crucial role in the success in the new country for American Jews and all immigrants who followed. Narrated and produced by Larry Josephson.

Stories Make the World

From Claire Schoen | Part of the ILLUMINATIONS: Jewish Culture in the Light of the World series | 59:01

"Stories Make the World" is an hour-long audio documentary celebrating the rich tradition of Jewish storytelling within the context of storytelling from cultures around the world.

Corey_small When a 4th grade class was asked "What would happen if there were no stories?" A young girl responded, "If there were no stories, there would be no world. Stories make the world." This program, "Stories Make the World" looks at how societies use storytelling to define culture and to make sense of the world we live in. Judaism has a rich storytelling tradition. This program is full of wonderful tales from around the world, both Jewish and others. These stories not only explore the cultural roots of the societies they come from, but also show how stories can help people speak to one another across traditions. (Each of the 3 shows in this series can be broadcast as stand-alone programs.)

Beating The Odds

From Playing on Air | Part of the Playing on Air Full Length Episodes series | 53:00

In Two Jewish Men in Their Seventies Jerry Stiller and Bob Dishy debate how much the little indignities matter. Waking Up juxtaposes an American urbanite and an African villager's experiences with the same medical threat. In the romance Dear Kenneth Blake, a Khmer Rouge refugee and a homeless man share their survival stories.

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Three short plays. In TWO JEWISH MEN IN THEIR SEVENTIES, by Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, two great comedians Jerry Stiller (“Seinfeld”, “The King of Queens”) and Bob Dishy (Sly Fox, Along Came Polly) play two old friends visiting a new holocaust museum. They don't like it so much. They've seen better. WAKING UP juxtaposes an American urbanite and an African villager's triumph over breast cancer. Although the details from diagnosis to ultimate triumph are vastly different, their stories reveal the universality of the human spirit. In DEAR KENNETH BLAKE, a Cambodian refugee and a homeless man strike up a romance. TWO JEWISH MEN IN THEIR SEVENTIES by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros (Pulitzer nom) with Bob Dishy, Jerry Stiller. WAKING UP by Cori Thomas with Lynette Freeman, Amy Staats. DEAR KENNETH BLAKE by Jacquelyn Reingold with Matthew Cowles, Jodi Long. Interviews with all three playwrights.


Jews & Blues: Inside Out

From Inside Out Documentaries | 01:02:30

The story of how Jewish and African-American music came to be mingled is the story of how the soundtrack of the American Century came to be written.

Jb_small WBUR's Inside Out Documentaries Senior Correspondent Michael Goldfarb tells a story of relations between African-American and Jewish communities through the history of American popular music of the first half of the 20th century. In "Jews and Blues: Inside Out" Goldfarb takes us on a journey through ragtime, blues, jazz, klezmer and popular song to see how and where the musical and social connections were made. While listening to the music of Scott Joplin and Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington, Goldfarb traces the lines of musical influence. He takes us to the places where the music played and the musicians met to see how the intertwining of musical expression between Jews and African-Americans reflected-and sometimes helped initiate-social change. The program includes rarely heard performances from Willie the Lion Smith, George Gershwin, Cab Calloway, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band and Artie Shaw, among others. PRSS satellite uplink 8/01 "Jews & Blues: Inside Out" may be considered "evergreen." Michael Goldfarb's book , "Ahmad's War, Ahmad's Peace," published by Carroll & Graf, is out now: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0786715154/002-7566354-8354437?v=glance For more information about this and other Inside Out Documentaries, please contact Namita Raina, National Program Administrator, WBUR Boston. (617) 353-8160 nraina@bu.edu


Half-Hour (24:00-30:00)

Andy Statman's Journey

From Jon Kalish | 27:47

"Andy Statman's Journey" takes listeners on a musicial and spiritual odyssey with the New York virtuoso who has been wowing bluegrass, klezmer and jazz audiences for 40 years.

Default-piece-image-0 "Andy Statman's Journey" takes listeners on a musicial and spiritual odyssey with the New York virtuoso who has been wowing bluegrass, klezmer and jazz audiences for 40 years. Statman is widely considered one of the most gifted mandolin players on the planet and has left audiences shaking their heads at his blistering bluegrass picking and poignant waltzes. But he is equally acclaimed as a clarinetist in the klezmer and jazz scenes. For more than ten years, Statman has been playing jazz versions of chasidic melodies on his clarinet. A chasidic Jew who lives in one of Brooklyn's religious neighborhoods, the 56 year-old musician has been the subject of several radio stories by Manhattan-based independent radio producer Jon Kalish, who utilized interviews conducted over a period of 13 years in tis doc. It also includes music from two recently released Statman CD's, as well as an un-relased album and field recordings at a New York synagogue where Statman's trio has performed for the last seven years. "Andy Statman's Journey" provides a portait of a brilliant but uncompromising artist who is more devoted to following his muse than navigating the commercial music world. Among those heard from in this half-hour documentary are the respected jazz pianist Kenny Werner and bluegrass standout Ricky Skaggs, who describes Statman as "John Coltrane and Bill Monroe poured into one person."

RN Documentary: Family Mystery, Family Myth

From Radio Netherlands Worldwide | Part of the RN Documentaries series | 29:30

In Family Mystery, Family Myth, Jonathan Groubert travels from Holland to the US, England and Poland in search of the truth behind his family's emigration from Poland at the turn of the 20th century.

11449005_small This is Jonathan Groubert's story, but it could be yours too. It goes like this: his grandfather, Isaac, and all his family were from a small city in northwestern Poland called Konin. In 1905 they emigrated, no, escaped Polish anti-Semitism, grinding poverty and vicious persecution to a glorious new life of freedom and complete tolerance in America in 1906. It seems this was all a lie. In Family Mystery, Family Myth, Jonathan Groubert travels from Holland to the US, England and Poland in search of the truth behind his family?s emigration.

Rabbi Abulafia's Boxed Set

From Jon Kalish | 26:43

For more than two years in the 1950s, avant-garde ethno-musicologist Harry Smith recorded a Lower East Side Rabbi's cantorial music, folk songs and Yiddish story-telling. The Rabbi's eccentric grandson, 82-year-old Lionel Ziprin, is hoping to re-release a condensed version of this material.

Default-piece-image-1 For more than two years in the 1950?s, avant-garde ethno-musicologist Harry Smith recorded a Lower East Side Rabbi?s cantorial music, folk songs and Yiddish story-telling. The Rabbi?s eccentric grandson, 82-year-old Lionel Ziprin, is hoping to re-release a condensed version of this material. It?s a holy mission for him. Ziprin is a Lower East Side legend who sounds uncannily like the late Lenny Bruce. But, unlike the comedian, Ziprin hangs out at a Lower East Side yeshiva and his life has been a lot wilder. Kalish first met Ziprin in 1998 when one of the reporter?s elderly Yippie friends introduced him to the man. Kalish did a short radio piece and a newspaper article about Ziprin?s rescue of the 15-LP?s his grandfather, Rabbi Nuftali Zvi Margolies Abulafia, recorded with the eccentric Harry Smith but knew the story would ultimately make a compelling radio documentary

RN Documentary: The Jewish Genealogist

From Radio Netherlands Worldwide | Part of the RN Documentaries series | 29:29

Jonathan Groubert speaks with Dutchwoman Petje Schroeder a Jewish genealogist in the Polish city of Lodz.

11011171_small Petje Schroeder has spent the last decade helping Jews from all over the world tie together the threads of their Polish history and rediscover family past and present. She also gives Jonathan an emotional tour through what remains of Lodz’s Jewish past.

Little Odessa in Brooklyn

From Helen Borten | Part of the A Sense of Place series | 29:30

Little Odessa in Brooklyn is about the Russian Jews who survived pogroms and purges and brought humor, music and vitality to Brighton Beach, from its heyday in the 20s, 30s and 40s to the present day.

Default-piece-image-0 Little Odessa in Brooklyn is about the Russian Jews who survived pogroms and purges and brought humor, music and vitality to Brighton Beach,from its heyday in the 20s, 30s and 40s to the present day. It is also the story of a dying neighborhood saved by the determination of one woman and the energy and brio of a wave of new immigrants. This program was originally aired on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. Winner, "Best Documentary on Jewish Life," Judah Magnes Museum, Los Angeles, CA. One :30 promo (click "listen" page, promo labeled "Segment 2")


Segments (9:00-23:59)

Holy Land Tour

From Jake Warga | 13:27

A personal tour through the Holy Land, looking at how the conflict started and what it's like today between Jerusalem and Bethlehem...between birth and re-birth.

Also a slideshow:
http://hearingvoices.com/news/2009/12/holy-land-tour/
or
http://vimeo.com/8037836

Playing
Holy Land Tour
From
Jake Warga

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A narrated audio-rich trip through the holy land exploring the modern state of Christmas.  Between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, between Easter and Christmas, there is a modern and yet ancient wall.  In my travels I explore the origins of the conflict, all the way back to Abraham:

 

"...The name “Isaac” means “He Laughs”  His laughter and blood becomes David’s...A lineage dripping with laughter, but blood is mixed with tears.  Ishmael, the name, means “He Weeps”  The brother of Isaac, the brother of Laughter, weeps to this day...

...In Jerusalem, religions compete to see which can get you up the earliest. Call to prayers from loud speakers in minarets try to beat the roosters. Then come wake-up bells from churches.  Not even an Atheist can over-sleep in the holy land. "

Video:

http://hearingvoices.com/news/2009/12/holy-land-tour/
or
http://vimeo.com/8037836

I'm a Jew

From Tali Singer | 06:34

Devorah Spilman tells the story of how she became an observant Jew.

Playing
I'm a Jew
From
Tali Singer

Img_0269_small Devorah Spilman grew up Jewish. And she always believed in God. But her religion and spirituality did not always go together. By the time she got to college, she abandoned Judaism for the New Age movement.  Then, one day, at one of her co-counseling classes, everything changed.


Cutaways (5:00-8:59)

Queens of Bollywood

From Eric Molinsky | 07:44

Rose. Sulochana. Nadira. From the earliest years of Bollywood, these and other Jewish actresses garnered starring roles.

Sulochana__zillo_in_saubhagya_sundari_small Rose. Sulochana. Nadira. From the earliest years of Bollywood, these and other Jewish actresses garnered starring roles. And while they may have looked somewhat exotic to moviegoers, they came from Baghdadi Jewish families who had been living in India for decades. Reporter Eric Molinsky speaks to film scholars, as well as friends and relatives of these once-beloved but now mostly forgotten stars of Indian cinema, to find out how they became the “go-to girls” for leading female roles in the 1920s, ’30s, and beyond.

Roots of the Frozen Chosen

From Rebecca Sheir | 05:30

Speed-kibitzing with the second Jewish baby ever born in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Frozenchosen_small Jewish people in Alaska often joke about themselves as "The Frozen Chosen." Well, if it weren't for a mensch named Robert Bloom, those Jewish people might not even be in Alaska at all. Bloom was the first Jew to settle Fairbanks, Alaska; in doing so, he helped form the state's first Jewish community. More than 100 years later, Rebecca Sheir chats with Bloom's daughter, 93-year-old Meta Buttnick, about her family's story. But it's winter in Alaska, and the sun's about to set, ushering in the Jewish sabbath. Since Meta's "shomer shabbos," Rebecca's got 30 minutes to record a century of history... will her "mazel" run out before the sun goes down?

The Black Jews of Chicago

From Eric Molinsky | 07:33

At least forty thousand African Americans are practicing Jews who believe that the religion is part of their heritage. Eric Molinsky visited Beth Shalom B'Nai Zaken in Chicago to find out from Rabbi Capers Funnye and his congregants how they practice their faith, and what led them to it.

20080418jew025_small At least forty thousand African Americans are practicing Jews who believe that the religion is part of their heritage. Eric Molinsky visited Beth Shalom B'Nai Zaken in Chicago to find out from Rabbi Capers Funnye and his congregants how they practice their faith, and what led them to it.

Crypto-Jews

From Dmae Roberts | 05:17

Crypto-Jews or Hidden Jews are Jews forced to adopt other religions and political philosophies while maintaining Jewish practices.

Playing
Crypto-Jews
From
Dmae Roberts

Crypto_small Crypto-Jews or Hidden Jews are Jews forced to adopt other religions and political philosophies while maintaining Jewish practices. During the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th and 16th centuries, many Jews fled Europe and came to Mexico. There they took on Christianity as their public religion while at home they practiced Judaism. Through the years, many Crypto-Jewish practices became even more hidden to the point that many families didn?t even know they were Jewish. A stage play Portland, OR, was created from a series of novels by Northwest Writer Kathleen Alcala to tell the story of her family in Northern Mexico during the 19th century and their discovery of theirJewish heritage.

The Itinerant Rabbi

From Philip Graitcer | 05:40

An Itinerant Rabbi ministers to congregations in small Southern towns.

Kassoff_small Deborah Kassoff works for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life and every Friday she packs her car and drives to towns like Natchez, Meridian, Clarksdale, and New Iberia. Kassoff is a traveling rabbi, and she provides religious services to congregations too small to have a rabbi of their own. Although she always thought she?d take a more traditional pulpit, but during an assignment as a student rabbi in Greenville, Mississippi, she fell in love with the South. She was drawn to the challenge to serve communities that are outside the Jewish mainstream and to way that intensity of Southerners? religious beliefs.


Drop-Ins (2:00-4:59)

How To Set a Guinness World Record...maybe

From Syracuse University Broadcast Journalism | 02:33

Hillel at Syracuse University shows us how easy it just may be to set a Guinness World Record and be remembered by the world.

Seder_small Hillel at Syracuse University shows us how easy it just may be to set a Guinness World Record and be remembered by the world.

Jews and the generation gap

From Next Generation Radio | Part of the NPR's Next Generation Radio series | 04:46

Jewish identity across generations.

Default-piece-image-1 There's an old Jewish joke . . . put three Jews in a room and you'll get seven different opinions. But ask an American Jew how modern day Israel affects their Jewish identity and you get even more points of view. That?s what Thea Chroman found out when she talked to some San Francisco bay area Jews of different generations to hear how the Jewish State affects their identity.

The Prince of Kosher Gospel

From Alex Goldmark | 04:14

First person vignette with music.

Default-piece-image-2 Joshua Nelson, a proud African-American-Jew, explains how he fuses the soul music he loved as a boy with the sometimes dreary liturgical songs of his Jewish faith. He sure can spice up a service, just have a listen to the music he makes.