Yiddish New York – the USA’s largest festival of Yiddish music, culture and language – returns December 24 – 29, 2016

Yiddish New York (YNY), a festival celebrating Yiddish language and culture, including its signature music, klezmer, is proud to announce that it will be returning for its 2nd year. This year’s festival will feature some of the world’s biggest names in klezmer and Yiddish, including Broadway actress Joanne Borts (from the Tony-winning musical Once), Grammy-winning trumpeter Frank London (The Klezmatics),  NY Times Best Selling author Michael Wex (Born to Kvetch), award-winning actors Allen Rickman and Yelena Shmulenson (featured in the Coen Brothers film “A Serious Man”), cartoonist and MacArthur Genius Fellowship winner Ben Katchor, and over 60 other leading figures in Yiddish culture (a full listing can be found athttp://www.yiddishnewyork.com/about/). As London comments, “Yiddish New York was a great opportunity for me to pass on all that I have learned during my many years as a klezmer musician.”


Following its stunning success last year, with over 2,800 people participating (YNY received a major publicity boost when Donald Trump used a Yiddish expletive in mocking Hillary Clinton just before the 2015 festival opened), the Yiddish New York team is looking forward to another great week of engaging classes, fun concerts and most importantly, community building. “Everybody wants to see continuity for this community,” said organizing committee member Josh Waletzky, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and Yiddish singer. That was echoed in a statement by Esther, a young participant in the festival “I have met some of my best friends through klezmer and Yiddish. It is part of my heritage, but also my community. I can’t imagine my life without them.”

Each day, YNY participants can take advantage of a full schedule of workshops, performances, lectures and films, presenting many of the leading figures in Yiddish culture today. Evenings will feature an eclectic series of concerts, dance parties, theater performances, an art exhibition and jam sessions open to the public that are held at a diversity of venues in Manhattan’s vibrant and historic East Village/Lower East Side neighborhoods.

YNY welcomes individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Daily programs include workshops in klezmer music, Yiddish song, Yiddish dance, theater, Yiddish language, as well as a diversity of lectures on Yiddish culture, history and literature. Additionally, YNY offers neighborhood historical walking tours (conducted in Yiddish and English), a visual arts exhibition, a lunchtime film series, book release celebrations, religious services, and more.  Special programs for kids and teens are led by leading educators and performers.


A centerpiece of the festival will be the Adrienne Cooper Memorial Dreaming in Yiddish Concert , which will be held on Sunday, Dec 25, 8:00PM at The Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place. This year’s concert will honor renowned Yiddish poet Irena Klepfisz with the 2016 Adrienne Cooper Memorial Dreaming in Yiddish Award for her inspiring work which is infused with activism and calls for social justice. Adrienne Cooper was a beloved Yiddish singer and cultural activist who died in 2011, and the Dreaming in Yiddish Concert has been held annually in her memory since 2012.

The program will start on the evening of Saturday, December 24th with a Yiddish dance party featuring live klezmer music (more details coming soon)– an auspicious evening, a convergence of the first night of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. 


The festival’s hub for daytime programs is the 14 th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street

(between 1st and 2nd Avenues), which is a short walk from the L, N,R,Q,4,5 and 6 trains.  Tickets can be purchased through the registration page of the website www.yiddishnewyork.com. 6-day full festival passes are available for $498, with significant discounts to enable couples/families to attend. Single day passes are available for $110 ($55 for additional family members). Evening event passes will go on sale soon. YNY also makes work-study scholarships available to students and participants with financial need.


Partner Organizations: The 14th Street Y, The Center for Traditional Music and Dance, The Educational Alliance, The Museum At Eldridge Street, The New York Klezmer Series, The Stanton Street Shul, The Town and Village Synagogue, The Workmen’s Circle, The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, The National Yiddish Theatre, Folksbiene, The Center for Jewish History, The New York Jewish Guide and the New York Jewish Parenting Guide. International partner: Institut Européen des Musiques Juives (Paris)

Yiddish New York receives support from the Marinus and Minna B. Koster Foundation, the Atran Foundation, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Adrienne Cooper Fund for Dreaming in Yiddish, Itsik (Jonathan) Sunshine, and Nicola Bird, Seth Weisberg and family.

Organizing Committee member Pete Rushefsky is available for interviews by phone or email.  Please contact 917-326-9659 or email yiddishnewyork@gmail.com .



Pete Rushefsky

917.326.9659 cell

212.571.1555, ext. 36 office




Grammy-winning trumpeter Frank London of the Klezmatics is featured on Yiddish New York’s faculty. Image courtesy of Yiddish New York.

Grammy-winning trumpeter Frank London of The Klezmatics is featured on Yiddish New York’s faculty. Photo by Alan Roche.

Violinist Deborah Strauss leads an ensemble on the roof of the 14th Street Y at Yiddish New York_s 2015 festival.
Violinist Deborah Strauss leads an ensemble on the roof of the 14th Street Y at Yiddish New York’s 2015 festival. Photo by William Meyers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *