Monday, February 14, 2011
Jewgrass and Canlit
Not your Bubbie's klezmer says Bev Akerman over at Rover riffing on the recent Shabbat Shira sold-out shindig at our shul. But anyone who knows a little about klezmer knows that it's taken many forms over the last few decades, particularly in the US, ranging from groups like Boston's The Klezmer Conservatory to New York's Klezmatics, not to mention John Zorn's Klezmer-inspired Jazz-infused musical experiments. Being an island of Jews in a lake of Quebecois in an sea of Anglos has made the Montreal Jewish community uniquely conservative in character and consequently late to catch a ride on the upcoming cultural waves. But I'm proud to say that our little shtibel (the only Reconstructionist synagogue in a city of eighty or so Orthodox minyans) is trying to do its part to open a few doors and windows a crack, let some cultural fresh air in to the stagnant atmosphere. A culture is vibrant when artists (be they writers, painters, sculptors, actors, musicians, poets, whomever) feel they have the license to combine their own personal traditions with a myriad of other influences. Today is the 102nd anniversary of the birth of A.M. Klein, a Montreal Jewish writer and one of Canada's greatest poets. A writer who left his mark by combining Hebrew liturgy, Yiddish idiom, a mastery of English literary forms, a fluency in French and profound sensibility for Quebecois culture. So you ask, Jewish bluegrass from Montreal? I say you're darn tootin! And mazel tov to Bev on her new collection of short fiction. Strength to strength!