If you’ve found this page, it’s because you’ve been granted top-secret access as a participant in the Visit Berlin’s Yiddishland walking tour. We will watch the video during the tour.
This page is mostly full of spoilers for what you’re about to see, so please don’t scroll through it yet. Afterwards, hob hanoye! Enjoy the playlist, the links, and the other digital goodies to your heart’s content.
But please don’t share these spoilers with friends in Berlin who might take the tour themselves. You can send the link to bobbe back home – make her proud, she should shep some nakhes.
Save it for when you’re standing in the exact spot where it was made.
Title: Bustling Jewish life in Berlin
Credit Line: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Peter Gessner
Robert Gessner, who shot this footage, was a US-born Jewish photographer and filmmaker who documented Jewish communities in Europe and the Middle East and the rise of antisemitism in the 1930s, taking photos and film footage in the US, Palestine, England, France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. In 1936, two years after this European trip, he published a book titled Some of My Best Friends Are Jews, warning of the Nazi threat. He was also a screenwriter and pioneered film studies, founding the Motion Picture Department at New York University in 1941, which offered the first Bachelor’s degree program in motion picture studies in the US.
More on Robert Gessner’s films and the collection…
Most of the historic songs from the compilation “Vorbei… Beyond Recall”, compiled by Horst J.P. Bergmeier, Rainer E. Lotz, Ejal Jakob Eisler. The full compilation is an 11-CD set costing €200, but most of the disks are now available on Spotify if you search the title.
The modern cover versions are mostly by the Semer Ensemble from their album Rescued Treasure.
The members of this supergroup – Alan Bern, Daniel Kahn, Mark Kovnatskiy, Sasha Lurje, Martin Lillich, and Fabian Schnedler – are all very accomplished musicians and mostly perform in other configurations these days. They are all based in Berlin, apart from Kahn and Kovnatskiy, who live in Hamburg. I recommend listening to and supporting them all.
A number of transliterated lyrics and translations of the songs the Semer Ensemble covered, including “Lebke Fort keyn Amerike” (the first song about the bad husband) and “Sholem Bais” (Esther & Jacob Moshkowitz’s marital argument song), are posted on their website.
Sing the lullaby to the babies in your life!
Shlof, Shlof, Shlof – Sleep, sleep, sleep
Vocal and arrangement: Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk
Clarinet: Ittai Binnun
Violin: Daniel Hoffman
Contrabass: Yehonatan Levi
recorded in Ittai Binnun Studio Jerusalem
Mix/mastering: Marek Walaszek