The Yiddish Radio Project
'Gems from the Yiddish Radio Archive' Web Series Concludes
The recent 10-part Yiddish Radio Project series from npr.org and YiddishRadioProject.org continues online with a 26-week festival of Yiddish radio.
Every Tuesday, "Gems from the Yiddish Radio Archive" features another classic recording from the Yiddish radio vaults -- presented it in its entirety, with simultaneous English text translations.
Musician and historian Henry Sapoznik collaborated with Dave Isay, the MacArthur Award-winning radio documentary producer, to create the ongoing series celebrating these recordings, and the forgotten radio geniuses of the golden age of Yiddish-American broadcasting in the 1930s to '50s.
The Yiddish Radio Project stems from one fateful day 17 years ago when Sapoznik walked into an old New York City storeroom.
There, among looming stacks of broken records and musty pamphlets, Sapoznik made the discovery of a lifetime: a handful of single-cut aluminum transcription disks of Yiddish radio shows from the 1930s and '40s.
In the years since then, Sapoznik has combed attics, flea markets and even dumpsters in an attempt to find and preserve all of the last surviving remnants of Yiddish radio.
The collection has grown to more than 500 hours of recordings on 1,000 fragile disks, with everything from man-on-the-street interviews and news programs to searing dramas and swinging music shows -- the last recorded vestiges of a people in the midst of a cultural renaissance.
"You have to remember, these are one-of-a-kind recordings," explains Sapoznik. "So much was so close to being lost forever. What choice did I have?"
Isay says listening to the rare cache of broadcast disks "was like opening up King Tut's Tomb."
"Taken together, the collection give us this incredibly intimate snapshot of American Jewish life in the 1930s and '40s.
"You see the collision of Yiddish and American cultures, the day-to-day lives of immigrants struggling to make it in a new land, and the dawning reality of the genocide occurring across the ocean."
Yiddish Words -- An audible glossary of familiar terms.
Visit the official Web site of the Yiddish Radio Project.
Listen to the current incarnation of WEVD's classic Forward Hour.
Yiddish Radio Project producer Henry Sapoznik is also the executive director of LivingTraditions.org, supporting education in "community-based traditional folk culture."
The Yiddish Voice, a radio show based in Boston, Mass., features live Web audio on Wednesdays.
Learn more about the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass.
Read about the Spoken Yiddish Language Project at Columbia University.
Make Yiddish online with the virtual Yiddish Typewriter.
Web site for the Dora Teitelboim Center for Yiddish Culture.
Hungry for klezmer music? Legacy Recordings has three CDs from classic klezmer artists.