The Nation’s Biggest Yiddish Celebration Returns to the Lower East Side

Yiddish New York — the nation’s largest festival of Yiddish music, culture and language — returns December 23 – 28, 2017, drawing enthusiasts from around the world to New York City’s historic Lower East Side.

Yiddish New York (YNY), the nation’s largest workshop/festival celebrating Yiddish language and culture — including its signature music, klezmer — is proud to announce a return for its third year, taking place from Saturday evening, December 23rd to Thursday, December 28th, 2017. YNY 2017 will feature leading performers and scholars of Yiddish culture, including:

  • The New York debut of the Berkeley, California klezmer supergroup Veretski Pass ( Cookie Segelstein – violin, Josh Horowit z – accordion and Stuart Brotman – bass)
  • Acclaimed Amsterdam-based Yiddish singer Shura Lipovsky
  • Grammy-winning trumpeter Frank London (The Klezmatics)
  • Cartoonist and MacArthur Genius Fellow Ben Katchor
  • Poet and feminist activist Irena Klepfisz
  • Award-winning scholar and the visionary behind the Warsaw POLIN Jewish Museum’s innovative exhibits on Poland’s Jewish heritage, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
  • Pioneering klezmer scholar and performer Walter Zev Feldman (New York University)
  • Legendary folksinger Ethel Raim (Center for Traditional Music and Dance/the Pennywhistlers)
  • Celebrated violinist Deborah Strauss
  • I nnovating klezmer clarinetist and composer Michael Winograd
  • Charismatic Yiddish instructors Nikolai “Kolya” Borodulin (Workmen’s Circle) and Miriam Isaacs (Yiddish Book Center)
  • Pew Fellow/trombonist Daniel Blacksberg
  • Yiddish singer, composer and filmmaker Josh Waletzky
  • Educator and Yiddish singer Sarah Gordon
  • Renowned folklorist Itzik Gottesman (University of Texas at Austin)
  • Activist and theater curator Jenny Levison (Center for Social Inclusion)
  • Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer (Romemu)
  • Klezmer musician Pete Rushefsky (Center for Traditional Music and Dance).

And that’s not all — more featured artists and scholars are being confirmed each week!

A group of leading artists/cultural activists founded YNY in 2014 in response to the closure, after 30 years, of KlezKamp — the world’s oldest and largest program dedicated to the continuity of traditional Yiddish folk culture. Continuing the KlezKamp legacy in an urban setting, YNY annually draws 400-500 people of all ages and backgrounds for its daytime workshops, plus another 2300 for its evening concerts, dance parties, theater performances, and more.

“Everybody wants to see continuity for this community,” says organizing committee member Josh Waletzky , an award-winning documentary filmmaker and Yiddish singer.

“I’ve met some of my closest friends through the New York klezmer and Yiddish scene,” says 25-year-old Esther Troetschel, a participant of the festival. “This community is a huge part of my identity, and I love that Yiddish New York is helping to keep our traditions alive.”

Each day, YNY participants can take advantage of a full schedule of workshops in Yiddish language, klezmer music, theater, and more, plus a wide variety of performances, lectures, and films presenting many of the leading figures in Yiddish culture today. Evening programs feature an eclectic series of concerts, dance parties, theater performances, art exhibitions, and jam sessions that are open to the public and held at a diverse venues in Manhattan’s vibrant and historic East Village/Lower East Side neighborhoods.

YNY 2017 program offerings include:

  • Lectures by leading scholars of Yiddish history, literature and culture
  • Yiddish language instruction (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
  • Klezmer music lessons and ensembles (for all instrumentalists)
  • Kids and teen arts
  • Yiddish vocal/singing workshops
  • Yiddish choir, theater, and folk dance
  • Visual arts exhibition
  • Lunchtime film series
  • Neighborhood walking tours covering the Yiddish history of the Lower East Side
  • Creative activism combining arts, politics and community organizing
  • Shabbat services
  • Concerts, d ance parties, and j am sessions

The program kicks off at 8:00pm on Saturday, December 23rd with a Yiddish dance party featuring live klezmer music by an all-star group of leading klezmer musicians led by Grammy-award winning trumpeter Frank London and renowned clarinetist Michael Winograd.

YNY welcomes individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of Yiddish (no prior Yiddish required!). Special programs for kids and teens are taught by leading educators and performers.

The festival’s hub for daytime programs is the 14th Street Y at 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 . 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 has scholarships and work-study options available to students and participants with financial need. A full breakdown of pricing, including information on scholarships and work study, can be found at . Tickets are available for purchase via Brown Paper Tickets .

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 is grateful for support from the Marinus and Minna B. Koster Foundation, the Atran Foundation, the Covenant Foundation, City Council Member Rosie Mendez,  the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Adrienne Cooper Fund for Dreaming in Yiddish, Itsik (Jonathan) Sunshine, and Nicola Bird, Seth Weisberg and family.


Yiddish New York celebrates and engages with East European Jewish (and other Jewish and co-territorial) traditions to foster new creativity and build bridges across borders.

New York Jewish Guide